Even though they debuted in 1941’s All Star Comics #3, and have had several incarnations on TV, the Justice Society of America has never made it to the big screen. That’s all set to change this year when Black Adam hits theaters. In the highly-anticipated first full-length trailer for Dwayne Johnson’s DC Comics passion project we’re introduced to three members of the DCEU’s JSA. And they look cool as heck!
If you haven’t seen that trailer yet, check it out here!
But who are the JSA members? What are their powers? Where did they originate? We’re here to answer all your burning Black Adam related JSA questions!
Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate
A founding member of the Justice Society of America, the first of many iterations of Doctor Fate debuted in 1940’s More Fun Comics #55 created by Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman. Though it would take over a year for his backstory to be revealed, the first person to hold the mantle was Kent Nelson. It’s been confirmed that this is the version of Doctor Fate that Brosnan will be playing, and looking back at Kent’s comic book history that choice makes a lot of sense.
In an origin that feels like it could definitely come into play in Black Adam, as a child, Nelson was exploring the tomb of the Mesopotamian god Nabu with his father. When a terrible accident leads to the death of the man who raised him, Kent becomes the charge of the god whose temple he discovered. It was there that he was taught to wield magic and then eventually bestowed with the artifacts that gave him his powers, including that iconic helmet.
With the Black Adam movie relying so heavily on the cosmic lore of the titular anti-hero and the magic that gave him his powers, it makes sense to pit him against and possibly alongside another deity-like hero. It’s also very interesting as Black Adam’s birthplace of Khandaq was heavily based on Ancient Egypt which sits alongside Mesopotamia as one of the oldest civilizations on Earth. So don’t be surprised if we see some deeper history between Black Adam and Nabu.
He’s also one of the few characters aside from Superman that feels like he could almost match up to Black Adam. His years training with Nabu and the amulet, cloak, and helmet gave him magic, immortality, unbelievable strength, telekinetic powers, and more. He’s an extremely skilled practitioner of the dark arts too, so we’re definitely entering the DC magic arena here.
Aldis Hodge as Hawkman
The casting which got fans almost as excited as Johnson as Black Adam was the announcement that Aldis Hodge would be playing Hawkman. Another founding member of the JSA, he flew onto comics pages in 1940s Flash Comics #1 created by Gardner Fox and Dennis Neville. This hero is one of the most well known in Black Adam‘s roster thanks to a version of him appearing in the CW Arrowverse shows. In those TV shows–most recently Stargirl–viewers met Carter Hall’s Hawkman, who Hodge will be playing when the character hits the live action big screen for the first time in October. This is another character choice that proves how dedicated Black Adam is to exploring the origins of the JSA and the Golden Age of these DC heroes.
In the comics, Carter Hall was the original Hawkman. Just like Black Adam and Doctor Fate, he has a connection to ancient civilization. In this case, it’s Egypt. The Arrowverse stuck pretty closely to his classic origin which saw an ancient Egyptian royal, Prince Khufu, killed alongside his lady love by his advisor and priest.
So how did he become a pulpy ’40s archaeologist? That would be thanks to a dagger made of Nth metal which Carter touched, reconnecting him with his past lives and the truth that he’s the reincarnation of Khufu. That very same metal is what allows Carter to fly with his impressive golden wings. He’s very much a classical romantic hero as throughout time he’s found his reincarnated love who goes by the moniker Hawkgirl. He also has a connection to the alien world of Thanagar, whose residents were hanging around our world in ancient times, something teased by the fact that we appear to see Carter Hall flying in an alien spacecraft.
Like many heroes, Carter’s powers have changed throughout the years. But he’s rarely seen without his helmet, wings, and mace, which are shown in the trailer. It’s going to be really exciting to see the inevitable history between Black Adam and Carter as the pair are both ageless characters who have been alive for millennia. And, as the trailer teases, they have very different ideas of what it means to be a hero.
Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher
Diverging from the Golden Age of heroes is Atom Smasher. Unlike his JSA counterparts, he’s not a founding member and didn’t hit shelves until 1983’s All-Star Squadron #25, created by Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway. But, of course, because Black Adam is intent on bringing the Golden Age to the big screen, Atom Smasher–introduced as Nuklon, a name that stuck around until Kingdom Come–has a cool connection to the era.
Atom Smasher’s alter-ego Albert Rothstein is the godson of the Golden Age Atom. That’s not his only (in)famous family connection, though, as his grandfather faced down the Golden Age Atom as a reluctant supervillain known as Cyclotron. In an interesting twist, a retcon revealed that Cyclotron was the reason the Atom gained enhanced powers! Ah, the joy of comics! That makes Atom Smasher a rare double legacy character.
His powers are a bit of a meta joke on the original Atom, who was a short guy who didn’t start off with any powers and was just a bit of a scrapper who ended up with some powers after messing with Cyclotron. So what are Albert’s abilities? Well, as the trailer showcased, he can grow to massive size, making his powers an inversion of the newer Atom that fans know. Interestingly, Atom Smasher has the most deeply connected comic book history with Black Adam after the pair bonded over shared violence and became close allies. The pair even tussled with the JSA during that time, so you can expect their relationship to be key when it comes to Black Adam.
Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone
This trailer still doesn’t reveal one more key member of the new JSA that we’ll definitely be meeting in the movie: Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone, another DC legacy hero. We suspect they’re saving her for the next round of footage.
Black Adam Release Date
Black Adam is in theaters Oct 21, 2022.