Black Adam: How Noah Centineo Is Shedding Atom Smasher’s “Dark Familial Past”

Exclusive: Noah Centineo shares his dream to "set a foundation" for Atom Smasher in the DCEU.

Black Adam Atom Smasher
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Viewers fell in love with Noah Centineo as Peter Kavinsky in To All the Boys I Loved Before, but he’s stepping into the superhero world in a big way with Black Adam. Centineo plays Albert Rothstein, better known to comics fans as Atom Smasher, a member of the Justice Society of America with a long heroic journey of his own.

Like many JSA members, Atom Smasher is a legacy hero, with ties to both heroes and villains of the past, and he has an interesting relationship with Black Adam in the comics. We spoke with Centineo about bringing Atom Smasher to life and his role in the JSA. 

When you first started to learn about Atom Smasher, what was the thing that excited you about him the most?

NOAH CENTINEO: What I love about Al at this place in his life is that he’s still very naïve. We get to watch a young superhero taking a lot of intense action in cross-sections of morality for the very first time, and we see it start to mold him and affect him. The Atom Smasher, who we’ve come to read about in the comics, is usually the fully developed and adult version of himself. I’m excited to set a foundation to hopefully grow into and out of that.

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Can you tell us about the importance of Atom Smasher’s relationship with Cyclone?

One of the important aspects of Cyclone and Atom Smasher’s relationship in the film is that together they lend two very different but fresh perspectives to one of Black Adam’s central ethoses. Another is that, and this is the root of their relationship, the audience gets to witness the phenomenal process of two young metahumans becoming heroes.

How does coming from a family legacy of heroes and villains inform Al’s journey?

Atom Smasher’s pedigree is a driving force for him. On one side, there’s a hovering darkness of his familial past, and there’s a fear and shame there that motivates him to drive a stake into the ground to differentiate himself from that past and say, “I am good,” even taking it upon himself to right the wrongs committed by his bloodline. And then you have, on the other side, his uncle, who is an absolute legend and his number one role model, really, who sets such a prime example for him to follow and leads the way for him to be good.

How did it feel to first put on the costume?

Oh my god, it felt like I was a kid again—a kid whose imagination had finally somehow fused together with reality. I mean, as a boy, I grew up pretending to be superheroes all the time, running around my room, backyard, playgrounds, recesses. And now, to be able to portray one in such an epic way is surreal, to say the least.

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Read more about Black Adam in our cover story here.