Black Adam (2021): An Insightful Anti-Colonialist Subtext

If, like me, you checked out review scores before watching this film . . . all  I can say is that this defied my expectations. Don’t listen to the “top critics” on Rotten Tomatoes and just read the reviewer scores, this film promotes a rather insightful anti-colonialist narrative that challenges basic assumptions about the strategic use of mercenary companies for hire as part of US foreign policy directives, challenges the exploitation of the Middle East’s resources for US government profits with the clever use of a fantasy mineral, ties the exploitation that Middle East civilians suffer with the unsavory targeted political assassinations of high-profile pro-democracy activists who live in fear of their lives and those of their families, challenges the double-standard bigotry of “good versus evil” arguments espoused by superheroes who come around only when US interests in global hegemony are threatened, and the dialogue is far better than what most people claim.

Now, you may think that this is a nonsensical review because other reviewers have claimed it is not deep and that it’s just The Rock / Dwayne Johnson punching stuff and shooting lightning to make things explode. It is absolutely all of that as well and that is what makes this film fantastic. All of the brilliance of this film is in the deeper subtext of the dialogue, the conflicts of interests among the various parties, and the layered interests of each of the characters vying to come out on top — whether for international stability, self-determination, selfish aims, or pro-democracy sentiments. It even does worldbuilding extremely well by having the commanding presence of Viola Davis’s Amanda Waller demand Teth Adam be stopped merely because he may pose a risk for US interests. It adds a fascinating sense of political realism by having Teth Adam be the vaunted champion that a country under the foreign military occupation of mercenaries have waited for and how they cheer when he kills their occupiers whereas they boo the Justice Society for rescuing their oppressors. The disparate reactions to what Teth Adam does and what the Justice Society does feels like a real living, breathing civilization of people.

This is one of the most layered and dynamic films I’ve seen in awhile and the fact that so many “top critic” Rotten Tomatoes’ scores have been negative either means they’re more interested in their specific corporate organization having a favorable working relationship with the US government for the latest in real world news or they weren’t mature enough to understand, examine, and appreciate the layered complexity and deeper truths of this film. Whereas, while the US public has been led to believe it’s just “cool smash-smash” explosive CGI, the majority nevertheless appreciate that this is a entertaining film regardless of the sophisticated subtext. Nevertheless, for me, the subtext definitely gives it a 10/10 in my book. Perhaps these “top critics” of Rotten Tomatoes aren’t as brilliant as they like to imagine themselves to be and the US public writ large has a keener eye for the finer political art.

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