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8/10/2022 • 4 min read
When we talk about the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson superhero movie, BLACK ADAM, it makes sense that most questions regarding the film focus on Black Adam himself. He is the title character, after all. Plus, he’s played by the biggest action movie star in the world.
But there's a lot more going on in this film. BLACK ADAM will also launch big-screen versions of classic DC heroes such as Hawkman, Atom Smasher, and Doctor Fate — some of whom are more widely known than others. In other words, BLACK ADAM is also a Justice Society of America movie.
That team’s roster and rich history make this an attractive prospect. Not that Black Adam can’t carry his own him (he’s super strong, he should be able to carry anything!), but bringing a new crew of DC characters to theatres makes the movie even more appealing. What is the Justice Society of America, you ask? Read on to find out!
The Justice Society’s biggest claim to fame is that it was the first superhero team in comics. Its first incarnation, created for "All-Star Comics" issue 3 in late 1940, included Doctor Fate, Hawkman, Sandman, Atom, the Spectre, the Flash, Green Lantern, and Hourman.
Much later, the entire superhero team concept was retooled into the Justice League. Some Justice Society members came along for the ride, such as The Flash, while others sunk into obscurity. But then something really strange happened. DC started incorporating the concept of parallel Universes into its overall story. Now both the Justice Society and the Justice League represented different DC Universes, allowing them to coexist on comic book shelves without chronologically contradicting each other.
This went on for a while, with many fun crossovers between Universes, until it all blew up in the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" storyline in 1985. That merged all the Universes together and solidified the Justice Society as a team that existed earlier in the 20th century than the more modern Justice League. As such, the Justice Society has an enduring feeling of being a group of old-timers, even if its members are quite young.
Another big difference between the Justice League and the Justice Society is the roster for each team. Put simply, the Justice League tends to be a group of DC’s biggest marquee characters. The Justice Society, on the other hand, can be… pretty much everyone else.
Some core members of the JSA, such as Hawkman and Atom Smasher, rarely seem to change. But the team doesn’t have a lot of restrictions on membership or size. As a result, it can feel like pretty much everyone in the DC Universe has been a member at one point or another.
Given DC’s penchant for multi-Universes, cataclysmic story events, and canon adjustments, it’s very difficult to pinpoint an exact mainline history of the JSA. The good news is this means you can jump right in on any era and enjoy yourself. More than anything, the JSA offers writers a really cool starting point to do pretty much whatever they want, allowing readers to enjoy unfettered, classic superhero storytelling.
This also makes the team an open book when it comes to the big screen. There isn’t a huge minefield of specifics creators have to wade through to deliver a story that’ll satisfy comic fans. That’s what makes their inclusion in BLACK ADAM so perfect. Sprinkle in some JSA characters, and if they hit the ingredients are ready to make a whole JSA film. The JSA offers filmmakers a fun clean slate to play upon with superheroic abandon.
All images courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
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