Playing superheroes a thrilling change of pace for Dwayne Johnson, Pierce Brosnan and Noah Centineo | Inquirer Entertainment

Playing superheroes a thrilling change of pace for Dwayne Johnson, Pierce Brosnan and Noah Centineo

By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 12:20 AM October 16, 2022
Pierce Brosnan (left) as Doctor Fate and Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam

Pierce Brosnan (left) as Doctor Fate and Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam —PHOTOS COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES

The DC Extended Universe is about to get bigger and more exciting with the eagerly anticipated release of director Jaume Collet-Serra’s “Black Adam,” starring Dwayne Johnson in the role of Shazam nemesis-turned-superhero.

In comic books, particularly in JSA #21, Black Adam’s change of heart takes place after he helps the Justice Society of America (JSA) battle the formidable Sin-Eater and is offered JSA membership thereafter.


The JSA, introduced to comic-book aficionados in 1941 with original members Doctor Fate, the Spectre, Sandman, Hourman, Atom, Jay Garrick’s Flash, Alan Scott’s Green Lantern and Hawkman, predates the Justice League by about two decades. Various iterations of JLA and JSA characters also place them on Earth-1 and Earth-2, but explaining that would entail longer and more detailed discussions better-suited for the purist fanboys out there.

 Aldis Hodge as Hawkman

Aldis Hodge as Hawkman

Origin story

In the film, Black Adam’s story began 5,000 years ago when the slave Teth Adam (Dwayne), gifted with the mighty powers of the gods, began using his newfound skills for vengeance.


Aiming to wield his “dark sense of justice” onto the world, Black Adam soon crosses paths and powers with the members of the Justice Society—namely Doctor Fate aka Kent Nelson (Pierce Brosnan), Hawkman aka Carter Hall (Aldis Hodge), Atom Smasher aka Al Rothstein (Noah Centineo), and Cyclone aka Maxine Hunkel (Quintessa Swindell)—who intends to drag him back to eternal captivity.

But sometimes, an aggrieved man’s woes and wicked wisdom have a weird way of sorting themselves out for the greater good—as the telling tagline of the movie, which opens in Philippine cinemas on Wednesday, suggests: You can be the destroyer of this world … or you can be its savior!

Last weekend, Inquirer Entertainment attended the global press conference graced by the aforementioned cast and moderated with easygoing flair and gusto by Yong Chavez. In it, Dwayne expressed how pleased he was to portray the title role in a story that also features the Justice Society.

Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher

Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher


“It was truly an honor to make this film and be able to introduce the JSA to the moviegoing world,” the 50-year-old box-office superstar noted when asked about what drew him to the project and his character in it. “As many of you know, the Justice Society was the very first superhero group … [they were there] even before the Justice League.

“In terms of familiar attributes, aside from flying and being able to shoot electricity from my hands (laughs), I would say we both have the same conviction and passion. Like me, Black Adam is pretty passionate about what he believes in.”

Asked to expound on the challenge he had to hurdle to bring to life a complex superhero who blurs the line between good and evil, the actor explained, “There were a few things that I found most challenging. First, we wanted to make a film that was different and unique in the superhero genre, which has been wildly successful over the years.


“But we also wanted to usher in a new era for the DC universe by creating five, six, seven new characters—which wasn’t easy to do. With so much dedication and respect to the mythology beloved by DC Comics fans, there was a lot of balancing act that we all took accountability for. Everyone came to the table and really wanted to make a tremendous film. The movie’s characters may reflect some philosophical differences … and none of them is wrong.”

Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone

Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone

New role

While he welcomed the unique opportunity of playing his “hero-antihero” character with eagerness and enthusiasm, Dwayne said that it was really his coactor Pierce Brosnan and his character, Doctor Fate, who make Black Adam’s intriguingly convoluted tale more cohesive.

Dwayne stressed, “There’s no one else on this planet who could have played Doctor Fate other than Pierce. In many ways, Pierce and Doctor Fate are the anchor of our movie.”

But his character offers a thrilling change of pace as much for Dwayne as for the former James Bond star. Reacting to his colleague’s complimentary remark, Pierce said he found it interesting to get cast in a superhero movie at his age. Now 69 years old, the smooth and still-dashing actor said that the offer came at the right time.

“The timing was perfect for me,” Pierce pointed out. “Doctor Fate met me at a good time in my life, with the years that I have on me and the experience of life that I’ve lived. I enjoyed playing him enormously. Every day was a joy to go to work with my fellow actors, and we did become a family. Jaume created such a wonderful arena for all of us to do our best work and fly with it.

“Doctor Fate is one of the oldest characters in the pantheon of DC Comics. He’s a sorcerer, but first and foremost, he’s a man named Kent Nelson, an archaeologist. His entry into this world came with a sacrifice … and that was in the form of his father’s death. He then carries the mantle of the cosmic being Nabu.

Sarak Shani (left) as Adrianna and Mo Amer as Karim

Sarak Shani (left) as Adrianna and Mo Amer as Karim

Sarak Shani (left) as Adrianna and Mo Amer as Karim

“Given all that mythology, an actor must really go back to his own self … Kent is a man who sees the future, so he sees death and people dying. When you have those kinds of secrets in your character’s DNA, you can bring a very personal subtext to it as an actor. That is why Doctor Fate is very close to me.”

Just as thrilled at the chance of donning a superhero costume was Noah Centineo (“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”), who was teased by his costars during the interview about his heartthrob status (“Oooh, Noah … ahhh! I love you, Noah,” they would playfully poke fun at him).

The 26-year-old matinee idol, who looked physically transformed by his short-cropped hair and more muscular physique, said that he approached his characterization for Atom Smasher like any other role.

“You do as much as you can to understand who the character is,” he reasoned. “Atom’s mastery at what he does comes from a pedigree of superpowers, from his Uncle Al to his grandfather, even that of being a villain. And with that comes expectations and a pressure that he has on him. There’s also a sense of privilege.

“So, you’ve got to bake all of that into who he is. And with this incredible cast, which has turned into a family, I let it all go and just trusted everyone—that was the easiest part, without a doubt. I felt fortunate to even be considered for this role in the first place. Every single day, my excitement just grew and grew.

“Moreover, I loved hearing Jaume’s take on this film and his fresh perspective on Black Adam’s ethos: What is good, and what is bad? And if it’s good, who is it good for? If it’s bad, who is it bad for? What does that mean?”

Johnson in “Black Adam”

Johnson in “Black Adam”

Was bulking up just as easy for Noah?

“Well, you can’t really talk to me about [bulking up] when you have that guy [points to Dwayne] around (laughs),” he quipped.

In the case of Aldis, who plays the iconic Hawkman, the whole experience made him feel like he’s “living a dream.”

He mused, “Oh, it was fantastic! Stepping into this, being a comic-book fan myself, I have a great love for superheroes. DC got me into this world as a kid, so I know where the fans’ love for these characters is rooted in. “I see this as a privilege and a responsibility … to step into Hawkman’s shoes and honor what we all grew up reading. Getting the role also reinstills my belief and faith in being able to hope for the fulfillment of a dream. And I am very excited for moviegoers to see this because what we did here is truly magical.”

For her part, playing the role of Cyclone felt like a journey of self realization for Quintessa.

“The thing that stood out the most for me was how unique she is,” the actress said. “I loved how open Jaume and our producers were to the idea of just letting Cyclone be herself. There wasn’t any stereotype that was attached to this young female character. She isn’t trying to be who she’s not, she’s just figuring herself out. And this is her first opportunity to amplify who she has worked to become and step into her dream.

“Cyclone comes from a lineage of superheroes, and there’s this idea motivating her as to how she can match the person who’s come before her. But now, she’s stepping into her own.

“In Black Adam, she has a fantastic representation of who she wants to be around her. And so, it becomes this journey of self-exploration, which has really inspired me and made me want to embrace who I fully am!”


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