| |

Black Adam changed DC hierarchy by putting the wrong person in charge

Who is currently accepting Amanda Waller's orders?

According to a Warner Bros. statement on Tuesday, James Gunn and Peter Safran will co-rule Warner Bros.’ new DC Studios department. However, in DC Studios’ vast cinematic universe, there appears to be only one top honcho capable of directing the world’s biggest superheroes.

James Gunn isn’t in command of the DC film world, according to the new film Black Adam, but neither is Black Adam. Amanda Waller is a woman. Amanda Waller, the woman who despised superheroes so much that she founded the Suicide Squad, appears to be in command of all DCU superheroes today.

[Editor’s note: This essay includes Black Adam spoilers.]

Black Adam changed DC hierarchy by putting the wrong person in charge

Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is a cruel government official overseeing a squad of forced supervillains towards the conclusion of David Ayer’s 2016 film Suicide Squad, which Batman threatens to shut down. She’d been deposed by her own home-base operatives at the conclusion of James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, who knocked her unconscious with a golf club. The last time we saw her, she was a vicious government operator whose devastating mishandling (again!) of a squad of compelled supervillains is revealed to the worldwide press at the end of the first season of James Gunn’s 2022 series Peacemaker.In Black Adam, she appears to have emerged from the incident with enough authority to send an entire elite superhero squad to the other side of the world — and “call in a favor” to give Superman instructions as well.

Waller initially appears on a television screen in Black Adam, instructing Hawkman to gear up, assemble a crew, and catch a very strong superhuman who has suddenly surfaced in a faraway land. Hawkman, who spends more time than anybody else in the film preaching on strict ethics for superheroes, agrees straight immediately. There’s no sign that he thinks taking Waller’s commands strange.

She reappears in the film’s mid-credits sequence, this time through a drone-mounted hologram, to deliver Black Adam severe words and warn him that she has instructed someone to check up on him. That someone is (as Black Adam’s production heavily implied) Henry Cavill as Superman. At the risk of repeating myself, Superman appears to be conversing with Black Adam at the request of Amanda Waller, whose claim to fame is implanting bombs into the skulls of murderers in order to drive them to commit war crimes.

Logistically and financially, the narrative function of Waller’s growing reach and influence is obvious. While there’s a lot to detest about Ayer’s Suicide Squad, Viola Davis was destined to portray Amanda “The Wall” Waller. The DCEU is a brand-conscious series, and its executives want people to remember that they have an Oscar-nominated actress of her quality in a pivotal position. Her continued appearances also show how much the simple presence of Agent Coulson helped link the initial batch of Marvel Cinematic Universe films.

The issue with Black Adam is that it misidentifies Amanda Waller as Nick Fury.

Black Adam changed DC hierarchy by putting the wrong person in charge

It’s easy to dismiss this as a misunderstanding of her comic-book character. Waller in the comics does not form superhero teams because she despises and distrusts superpowered individuals until they are completely under her control and no one else’s. DC’s comics universe is sometimes branded as having a more black-and-white morality than Marvel’s: Black Adam, for example, makes much of the concept that the Justice Society’s hard code renders them ineffective and unrelatable. However, Amanda Waller’s entire bargain is to go to whatever length to keep mankind safe from superpowered humans.

Amanda Waller controlling the Justice Society’s activities is not just incongruous with DC’s comics, but also with Warner Bros.’ films. If Amanda Waller can urge the Justice Society to engage in another country’s affairs, if she can ask Superman to pay a “let’s chat” visit to an actual foreign superpower… What was her need for the Suicide Squad? Why did she feel the need to join the Suicide Squad twice?

In a series the scale and complexity of DC’s film world, characters acting inconsistently is not uncommon. However, Black Adam confuses purpose for form (Waller, like Nick Fury, creates vital connecting tissue across movies) (Waller recruits and dispatches superhero teams, just like Nick Fury). In the process, it speaks to the franchise’s primary issue, which is that duplicating MCU framework is frequently emphasized above exploring the useful, creative, and exciting ways in which DC’s world differentiates itself from the Distinguished Competition. There was no need for a Nick Fury in the DC Extended Universe. It hardly has an Amanda Waller anymore.

Similar Posts