Comic book movies have long been must-see destination viewing for those looking for a bit of fantasy escapism in an increasingly divisive and difficult to comprehend world. Over the past twenty years in particular, they have been emblematic of our collective desire to feel empowered in a society that rarely allows us the time and space to establish a fulfilling sense of control.
Even so, 2022 has proven to be the first non-pandemic year since 2017 to not enter a comic book adaptation into the billion dollar movie club, and has reportedly been tumultuous for the genre behind the scenes at almost every studio. As we press into 2023, Marvel continues its pursuit of longer form storytelling on its multitude of direct-to-streaming series and has come under criticism for building a cinematic universe in which everything must get bigger and bolder to remain satisfying to those who’ve already seen it all, while Sony succumbed to an internet meme to re-release Morbius without understanding that they were the butt of a joke, and DC most publicly of all faced scrutiny for late-in-the-year decisions regarding the future of the DC Extended Universe (now to be without Henry Cavill as Superman only weeks after his return) and a public falling out with the world’s highest paid actor, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, regarding his long-gestated DC film Black Adam.
Following 2021, a year of memorable debuts and the ultimate in superhero movie fan service, the comic book genre was forced to diversify in terms of its styles of storytelling in 2022, and as such offered everything from a David Fincher-tinged detective thriller to a horror master’s take on a superhero dealing with issues of the mind, from shallow children’s television-esque nonsense to deep ruminations on grief.
In this edition of Ranked, we at The Film Magazine are comparing each of the 9 major superhero movie releases (not including direct-to-VoD features like Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse) in terms of their quality, their impact on our culture, their importance to the genre, and their attempts at evolving comic book adaptations beyond their previous limitations. These are the 2022 Comic Book Movies Ranked.
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9. Black Adam
For a passion project from a former professional wrestler who earned his career and reputation for being one of the most charismatic men on the planet, it was utterly nonsensical that Dwayne Johnson would play the role of a superhero completely absent of personality. The man formerly known as The Rock, who’d regularly brag about holding the “millions… and millions” in the palm of his hand, was essentially playing a narrative trigger rather than a character, a floating and invincible agent of violence who’d be better named as Mr. Anti-Charisma than the titular Black Adam; his self-serious (but not in a funny Peacemaker way), angsty and hyper-aggressive presentation proving a vacuumous presence that sucked the life out of what was already an uninspired mess of a movie.
With visuals that look like they were taken directly from a mid-2000s historical fantasy film, Black Adam was surpassed visually by even The Rock’s poorly presented Hercules (2014) and the black and blue drabness of fellow 2022 comic book release Morbius. Worse still, Black Adam himself was barely present for large periods, his role in the film taking a backseat throughout the 2nd act as a lengthy list of side characters went in their own directions, each equally as lacking in any kind of truthful essence.
With a narrative filled with conveniences and utterly illogical character decisions, a yellow hue over the entire presentation, a backstory twist that is among the most poorly presented in the history of cinema, and enough poorly generated CG-scapes to take even the most hardened of superhero moviegoers out of any given moment, Black Adam was among the worst superhero films of the decade and must certainly be considered the worst comic book film of 2022.
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