After years of waiting for the movie to materialize, Black Adam is finally about to blast onto screens this fall. Dwayne Johnson has been attached to the eponymous anti-hero for around 15 years at this point, so it’s fair to say the hype for this one among DC fans is pretty high. It’s not all about The Rock’s Teth-Adam, however, as Black Adam is also noteworthy for marking the cinematic debut of the Justice Society of America.
With the Justice League seemingly retired for the moment, and DC holding back on a clash between Adam and Zachary Levi’s Shazam, the heroic foils to Johnson’s unrepentant protagonist in the film will be the JSA, the original comic book super-team. Despite their significant status in DC lore, however, the group isn’t really known to audiences at large. But that should change soon once we get to meet them in Black Adam, which features a handful of the JSA’s toughest members.
Looking for a primer on the JSA ahead of Black Adam‘s entrance to the DCEU? You’ve come to the right place…
What is the Justice Society of America?
20 years before the Justice League and Marvel’s Avengers formed in the early 1960s, there was the Justice Society of America. By 1941, DC — and its sister company All-American Publications — had already created various popular superhero characters so the decision was made to bring them together in a crossover team-up book.
The Justice Society’s founding members were Hourman, Doctor Fate, Sandman, Atom, the Flash, Green Lantern, the Spectre, and Hawkman. Black Canary became the first woman on the roster in 1948. Iconic heroes like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were only honorary members, as DC had a rule that no character with their own title could be part of the team full-time.
Though the Golden Age team persisted through the Silver and Bronze Ages, the JSA properly returned to prominence in the late ’90s and early 2000s, with their roster expanding exponentially. These days, legacy hero Stargirl is often the face of the group, with the two generations of the JSA playing a major role in The CW’s ongoing Stargirl TV series.
Which JSA heroes are in Black Adam?
There are so many Justice Society heroes that Adam would be overshadowed in his own vehicle if the movie showcased them all, so it appears that Black Adam has shrunk down the team to four core members, each of whom gets a few shots to show what they can do in the film’s first trailer. Here’s a quick guide to the DCEU’s JSA lineup:
Hawkman has undergone various reimaginings since his creation in 1940, but here’s how his story tends to go. Archaeologist Carter Hall is really the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian prince who gained his immortal powers after being exposed to an extraterrestrial element known as Nth Metal. The same goes for his eternal love Shayera aka Hawkgirl.
Aldis Hodge (The Invisible Man) plays the role in Black Adam, sporting a very faithful recreation of the character’s comic book look. As in the source material, Hawkman will be the leader of the team whose old-fashioned heroism and moral outlook clashes with Adam’s lack of scruples.
Not to be confused with the Atom — although he is the godson of original Atom, Al Pratt — Atom Smasher is not only super-strong, he also has the ability to grow to enormous heights. Real name Albert Rothstein, Atom Smasher was created in 1983 and has also gone by the alias Nuklon.
Interestingly, Rothstein and Black Adam have a storied history in the comics. Once Adam reformed and joined the JSA, Atom Smasher didn’t believe he’d truly changed so the pair shared a mutual dislike. But once Adam proved himself, they developed a firm friendship. We’ll have to see if this is something that’ll be replicated on screen, where the character will be portrayed by Noah Centineo (To All The Boys).
Like Atom Smasher, Cyclone is another legacy member of the JSA, The granddaughter of original Red Tornado, Ma Hunkel, Maxine Hunkel was infected by nanobytes as a child by Professor Morrow — the creator of the second Red Tornado, an android — which give her the power to generate cyclones, project blasts of air, and fly.
Quintessa Swindell (Trinkets) will bring Cyclone to life in Black Adam. Swindell is non-binary and uses they/them and he/him pronouns, but it’s unknown if this is something that will apply to their character as well.
Move over Doctor Strange, there’s a new superhero sorcerer in town. As created in 1940 (over two decades before Strange’s arrival), Doctor Fate is really Kent Nelson, who gains extremely powerful mystical abilities once he dons the Helmet of Nabu, which houses the spirit of the ancient being Nabu — one of the Lords of Order who is locked in an eternal battle with the Lords of Chaos.
As his name suggests, one of Fate’s most notable powers is his knack for receiving visions of someone’s future. In the Black Adam trailer, Nelson (as played by former James Bond star, Pierce Brosnan) tells Adam that his destiny is in flux and it’s his choice whether he becomes a hero or a villain. With Brosnan being the oldest member of the team, the DCEU’s version of Kent looks to be the elder statesman of the JSA.
Black Adam smashes into cinemas on Oct. 21.