Given all the latest news from DC Studios, Black Adam’s streaming release on HBO Max feels less momentous than previously expected and hoped for.
Black Adam releases on HBO Max on December 16, 2022, but the timing of its streaming debut now feels anticlimactic. When Black Adam was released in cinemas in October 2022, many expected the movie to be a big hit for Warner Bros. Discovery given Dwayne Johnson’s star power and a surprising return for Henry Cavill’s Superman. Touted as a fresh direction for the DCU, Black Adam introduced both a new antihero and another flagship superhero team with the Justice Society of America, and yet the movie fell short of expectations both critically and at the box office.
Now Black Adam will release on HBO Max just two months after its theatrical premiere following a global box office haul of less than $400 million. As a result, the movie is likely to mean a loss for DC Studios and Warner Bros. Discovery, given Black Adam’s generous production budget and massive marketing campaign. It’s hard to forget, however, that in those two short months between Black Adam’s cinema release and its debut on HBO Max, there has been a momentous shift in management for the DCU, affecting not only this movie but everything else DC Studios still has on its release slate.
Black Adam 2 May Already Be Dead
Dwayne Johnson previously maintained that Black Adam would be a stepping stone to a Black Adam and Superman face-off, foregoing the character’s connection with Shazam’s lore. With Black Adam performing below expectations, however, the chance of a Black Adam sequel is looking slim. It’s hard to ignore the signs that new DC Studios heads James Gunn and Peter Safran will be taking the DCU in an entirely new direction, having already decided against Patty Jenkins’ treatment for Wonder Woman 3, as well as officially announcing that Henry Cavill will not be returning as Superman in the future after all.
Though Black Adam is a new character for the DCU, the movie is still very much tied to previous narrative threads and characters that were established under the old regime. Black Adam featured not only a Superman cameo but one from Viola Davis’s Amanda Waller, inextricably linking Black Adam’s franchise future with other current DC properties that are likely to be phased out over the coming months and years. Unless Black Adam does unexpectedly well on HBO Max, its future is uncertain at best – especially as the streaming service is itself currently facing troubling cancelations and sudden removals at the moment.
Black Adam’s Post-Credits Scene Doesn’t Work On HBO Max
Given that one of Black Adam’s major draws was Henry Cavill’s return as Superman, it seems unlikely that Black Adam will perform much better on streaming. Despite only being part of a post-credit scene, Cavill’s return to the big screen as Superman was hailed a success and gave audiences hope for the character’s future. The scene even used John Williams’s iconic Superman score as a way of signaling to viewers that Superman’s future was bolder and brighter than ever. This was not to last, however, as now, it has officially been announced that Cavill will not be continuing his role as the Man of Steel.
But watching Black Adam for that specific scene now doesn’t have the same attraction – the tease of a Black Adam versus Superman confrontation is now unlikely to lead anywhere. And while Black Adam as a movie can certainly be enjoyed as a standalone adventure, and not every comic book movie needs to be connected to a larger universe, the critical reception for Black Adam’s narrative was middling at best, with the movie winning audiences over with big action spectacles instead that play better on the big screen in a theater than on a TV at home.
Black Adam Should’ve Been Huge On HBO Max
It has to be noted that not every movie that underperforms at the cinema suffers the same fate once it hits streaming. In fact, some perform much better on streaming than predicted. There are plenty of movies that people are willing to wait for to watch at home, especially as the pandemic and rising prices have justifiably made audiences apprehensive about heading to theaters. Black Adam could very well just be a fun weekend movie to watch at home in order to catch up on what the DCU has been up to and where it might be going, particularly during the holiday season.
However, with the changing of the guard at DC Studios and the incredible number of rumors and news items in circulation concerning the DCU franchise’s future, it’s easy to imagine that audiences won’t be as excited to watch a movie that, despite being connected to what came before, has very little chance of moving things forward for the future. It’s a shame, as Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam, the world of Kahndaq, and the introduction of the Justice Society of America all had potential. Black Adam’s HBO Max release now feels underwhelming, a consolation prize marking the slow end of an era.
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