The Best Movies Starring The Black Adam Cast That You Need To See

By and large, modern superhero cinema is unsurprisingly IP-driven. Marvel and DC superheroes come with built-in fan bases both recent and long-standing — ones comprised of multiple demographics — and appeal to families and solo viewers alike. As Robert Downey Jr.'s essential turn as Tony Stark proved, though, the casts of these films matter. As we previously covered, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has added Harrison Ford to its roster, and DC has endured its share of star turns and casting woes. In "Black Adam," the Warner Bros. tentpole has Dwayne Johnson, who promises to change the hierarchy of the DC Extended Universe forever and, potentially, the company's box-office fortunes (though our "Black Adam" review may disagree).

Johnson is one of the few actors who can open a non-superhero blockbuster. With "Black Adam," he is testing his mettle in modern Hollywood's most tried-and-true genre. Thrillingly, in "Black Adam" Johnson is surrounded by an ensemble of actors both new to and veterans of the genre. Viola Davis reprises her role as Amanda Waller, while former James Bond star Pierce Brosnan joins the fray as Doctor Fate. Additionally, two of Gen Z's hottest up-and-coming actors (Noah Centineo and Quintessa Swindell) look to make their mark on the medium that molds movie stars. 

To engage with "Black Adam" is to double down on its cast. Watching the best of their previous work will prepare you for Jaume Collet-Serra's big-budget smash 'em up, or serve as the next projects on your watchlist featuring these stars. Here are the best films starring the "Black Adam" cast that you need to see.

Dwayne Johnson in The Rundown

Beck (Dwayne Johnson) is the hero of "The Rundown." He doesn't use guns. That's made clear in the film's opening sequence, in which Beck uses his fists, his wits, a henchman's jewelry, and a DJ's turntable to take out an entire football team's worth of bad guys. This sequence rules. When Beck does use a gun, Peter Berg's "The Rundown" transforms into the sort of mega-action epic you'd expect from the former WWE heavyweight. Before that? It's one of the more interesting and pleasurable action films of the 2000s. 

"The Rundown" is written by James Vanderbilt (the scribe who also penned David Fincher's "Zodiac" and 2022's "Scream"), and he deploys the blend of genre know-how and smarts that made those films excellent in wildly different ways. The film itself was Berg's level-up as a director. Before "The Rundown," the actor-turned-helmer had only made "Very Bad Things." After "The Rundown," he delivers the best football movie ever made and an entire canon of Mark Wahlberg docudramas. There's a clear before and after established by "The Rundown," which is gritty and gleaming in equal measure.

Most importantly, Johnson's work as Beck is the ideal counterpoint to the character of Black Adam. Teth-Adam is a monolith of rage and power, a modern-day God unafraid to wield any weapon at his disposal. Beck's arc in "The Rundown" hinges on restraint and getting beat up with gusto. See this film to remember that Johnson has range as a performer.

Pierce Brosnan in The Foreigner

Pierce Brosnan's action-movie heyday is widely known by fans. There's only a handful of actors that have played iconic characters, or characters with a decades-long legacy of box-office success and pop culture cache. And Bond, James Bond, is both. Brosnan endeared himself to Hollywood and audiences with his four-film run as MI-6's most roguish agent, so his appearance in the action-heavy "Doctor Fate" is one that will delight casual film viewers. However, if you want to truly appreciate how much gravitas and grit Brosnan brings to the action genre, it's time to watch Martin Campbell's film "The Foreigner."

"The Foreigner" is Jackie Chan's return to Hollywood action films, at least on paper. In practice, its highlight is Chan in the darkest and most emotionally demanding role of his career. Quan (Chan) is an Hoa immigrant living in Ireland whose daughter is killed in a local terrorist bombing. He begins eliminating those responsible, which puts him on a collision course with Pierce Brosnan's Liam Hennessy, the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland and a clear stand-in for Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Féin, a real-life Irish nationalist party.

Setting Brosnan as an antagonist against Chan is a stroke of genius, particularly because Campbell's at the helm. Campbell directed Brosnan in "GoldenEye," and understands the actor's rhythms and talents implicitly. He makes use of Brosnan's proclivity for bluster and sets it against Chan's electric physicality. It's an efficient, razor-sharp film that proves Brosnan has more to offer than the lasting memory of James Bond.

Dwayne Johnson in Skyscraper

Early "Black Adam" reactions suggest that Jaume Collet-Serra's megabudget film is heavy on action. Collider reports that "Black Adam" originally received an R rating for "strong violence." Those facts suggest Dwayne Johnson is leaning into — and not away from — his small but mighty canon of pulpy action movies. For every "Jungle Cruise" or "Jumanji," the actor has made a "Faster" or "Walking Tall." Of all those efforts, 2018's "Skyscraper" is the most slept-on.

"Skyscraper" is the second collaboration between Johnson and director Rawson Marshall Thurber ("Central Intelligence," "Red Notice"). It's also easily the most artistically successful. Despite being (too) deeply indebted to "Die Hard" and "The Towering Inferno," the film succeeds on its own gloriously cliche terms. Thurber and Johnson are sincerely trying to revive the "Die Hard" model, and while their film lacks a proverbial Hans Gruber, it makes Johnson's Will Sawyer a compelling John McClaine cipher. 

Sawyer is an amputee and former hostage rescue leader. His entire existence is a tug of war between these polarities, and Johnson humanizes that dichotomy brilliantly. That proves important to the success of "Skyscraper" because literally, everything else that happens in the movie defies physics, gravity, and credible human bone structure. Johnson vaults across massive chasms and survives blows and falls few humans could. He does this with the charisma of a true-blue movie star. Bringing humanity to the impossible and action scenes alike is Johnson's secret weapon, and "Skyscraper" foreshadows what "Black Adam" is likely to deliver.

Viola Davis in Widows

I will take any opportunity to sing the praises of Steve McQueen's "Widows." It is arguably the director's best film, and McQueen has made Best Picture winners. It is unquestionably the best film of the 21st Century so far set in Chicago, Illinois. Most importantly, it is a movie that lets Viola Davis, an acting legend, begin a canon of action movie dominance. Yes, Davis has anchored several DC Universe action-superhero epics as the shifty Amanda Waller ("Suicide Squad," "The Suicide Squad"). But neither of those has drawn on Davis' physical prowess or the ability to bring emotional depths to thrilling setpieces. "Widows" does.

A crackling ensemble crime saga, "Widows" is ostensibly the story of four women (Davis, Elizabeth Debecki, Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo) whose only link is their husbands, each of whom got killed in a heist gone bad. They then bond together to rob a local politician (Colin Farrell) on behalf of the Chicago crime boss (Brian Tyree Henry) to whom their husbands owed money. 

This ingenious setup (courtesy of blockbuster crime novelist Gillian Flynn) offers Davis a canvas on which to paint a performance colored with melancholy and vitriol. She emerges from her grieving to lead a heist of her own. Her pain gives way to fear and anger and power. Without spoiling any of the film's myriad twists, Davis' emergence as an action powerhouse is both surprising and deserved, making it a must-watch alongside her turn in "Black Adam."

Aldis Hodge in The Invisible Man

Aldis Hodge is full of surprises. The burgeoning A-lister has revealed new layers of his talent with regularity over the last two decades, from wire-taut stoicism ("Friday Night Lights") to heartbreaking vulnerability ("Underground"). It makes sense that two of his most recent and notable efforts would continue this trend, beginning with 2020's "The Invisible Man," which our review made clear was a timely, scary take on the story.

Leigh Whannell's reimagining of the Universal monster classic is nothing if not surprising. It makes its heroine Cecilia Kass (Elizabeth Moss) and not Adrian Griffin, the Invisible Man himself (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) the film's protagonist. It's as much a treatise on gaslighting and the patriarchy as it is a standard horror film. And that willingness to be different extends to Aldis Hodge's James Lanier, a police detective and childhood friend of Cecilia's. James is arguably the most charming character in "The Invisible Man," a father whose heart of gold and goofy swagger provides a haven for Cecilia when she escapes Adrian's clutches. 

Like everyone around Cecilia, James is given cause to doubt his friend's sanity. He finds himself at war with his profession, and his ultimate willingness to enter the gray area of right and wrong when Cecilia is proven right makes him something far more complicated than good or heroic. James' complicity in revenge becomes a symbol of his humanity. That's not an easy reveal to watch, but Hodge makes it feel masterful. The performance is proof he can bring all sorts of depth to Hawkman if "Black Adam" allows him to, making it a must-watch.

Jennifer Holland in Brightburn

"Black Adam" is the story of a superhero so powerful Dwayne Johnson promises he changes the hierarchy of the DC Universe. "Brightburn," by contrast, is the story of a boy so powerful (and evil) that he unravels the hierarchy of one nuclear family. The James Gunn-produced horror pic (written and directed by two of Gunn's brothers) didn't exactly light up the discourse or box office when it was released in 2019. Still, "Brightburn" is the full-blown horror epic that "Black Adam" could never be. Adam is frequently compared to Superman, but Brandon Breyer is ostensibly Ka'lel if he breaks bad at the age of 12. It's must-see superhero film counterprogramming. Crucially, it also features "Black Adam" star Jennifer Holland.

Holland would go on to have larger and meatier roles than Ms. Espenschied, Brandon's beleaguered school director. But her work suggests the exact blend of toughness and vitality that has made her a vital component of the DCEU as Emilia Harcourt. Harcourt has evolved from a card-carrying member of Amanda Waller's team to a hero with emotional agency and a believer in her own moral compass. That's a fascinating counterbalance to Black Adam, a man with the powers of a God who may be willing to destroy the world if the trailers are any indication. That means there are two solid reasons to watch "Brightburn," and if you haven't done so yet, rectify that immediately.

Viola Davis in The Woman King

"The Woman King" is a coronation for the creatives who made it. It cements the action-directing bona fides of Gina Prince-Bythewood, who follows up her thrilling "The Old Guard" with an even more taut and bruising film. The ecstatic performances of Lashana Lynch ("No Time to Die"), Sheila Atim ("Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness"), and John Boyega ("Attack the Block") confirm their movie star status. Meanwhile, Viola Davis evolves into the action movie star "Widows" theorized she could be. Seriously. Let the record show that, at the end of 2022, the action hero championship belt that Grantland wrote about so many years ago firmly belongs to a woman in her late 50s. You love to see it.

There's so much to love about "The Woman King." You could champion the attention it draws to the Agojie, the squadron of all-female soldiers who guarded the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s. You could recommend the film solely based on its action scenes, which draw more from recent foreign action-war cinema than typical American fare. There's zero doubt, though, that Davis is the highlight. She's never had a role as physically demanding as General Nanisca in any sense (we previously wrote about the intense training for "The Woman King") and Davis' performance reflects the actor's confidence in vaulting the challenge throughout. 

It's not dissimilar from the mid-career, action movie excellence Keanu Reeves achieved as John Wick, but infinitely rarer and more unexpected. "The Woman King" is the sort of film Hollywood should make more often. See it because "Black Adam" is the norm.

Aldis Hodge in One Night in Miami...

Aldis Hodge is capable of finding humanity and truth in iconography. That's easier to do on paper when you're playing a real-life legend than a mace-wielding reincarnation of Egyptian royalty, but success at neither is guaranteed. In "One Night in Miami..." Hodge does the former, suggesting he should prove capable of the latter with aplomb.

At its core, "One Night in Miami..." is the story of multiple legends. It fictionalizes the real-life evening when musician Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), boxer Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), football player Jim Brown (Hodge), and humans rights activist Malcolm X (Kingsley Bel-Adir) gathered at the Hampton House together. Regina King's film is faithful to the Kemp Powers play that inspired it (Powers also scripted the big-screen adaptation), embracing the chamber play's intimate setting and searing dialogue. 

It asks all four actors to tap heretofore unseen depths as performers, embodying their characters' signature mannerisms while making them also feel organic. All rise to the occasion, but Hodge may have the trickiest task of all. As written, Brown doesn't express the same level of vitriol or achieve the same catharsis as Malcolm or Sam. He's asked to bottle. Hodge lets the audience see everything under his surface without indicating once. It's subtle, masterful work. Hawkman should be a walk in the park for him and one that's impeccably realized to boot.

Sarah Shahi in For Your Consideration

The MCU is known for its quips. The DCEU? Less so. But the secret weapon of Jaume Collet-Serra's best films is a wicked sense of humor. There's Paris Hilton's self-referential work in "House of Wax." Or even better, there's Steven Seagull in "The Shallows." "Black Adam" will likely be funnier than its advertising indicates, which means star Sarah Shahi's role in Christopher Guest's 2006 comedy "For Your Consideration" could make her a vital part of the tonal equation.

"For Your Consideration" isn't the best Christopher Guest movie, but it's easily the one with the most star-studded ensemble. Major roles and minor roles are filled by heavy hitters, from Guest regulars Jennifer Coolidge and Catherine O'Hara to future big names John Krasinksi and Casey Wilson. Shahi is closer to the latter, but as Sanchez she makes a brief but indelible impression. Shahi would go on to star in NBC's "Life" almost immediately after the film's release. If Shahi can bring the comedic bent of "For Your Consideration" to the larger, meatier role of Adrianna Tomaz — who, in the comics, becomes the super-powered Isis — "Black Adam" could be a great time at the movies indeed.

Noah Centineo in To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Noah Centineo is a bonafide Gen Z star. The 26-year-old actor (who, yes, is technically a late Millennial) has been a constant on family and teen-friendly screens since 2013, beginning with Freeform Network's "The Fosters" and continuing through Netflix's "To All the Boys..." trilogy. There are possibly multiple generations of viewers unfamiliar with Centineo; "Black Adam" will acquaint them. But to truly understand his appeal, look to his breakout Netflix smash.

As Peter, Centineo adds to the essential canon of unapproachable yet approachable jocks in high school movies. Think Channing Tatum in "She's the Man," or Penn Badgley in "Easy A." Those are both actors who went on to long careers, in part because they illustrated from the jump that they were more than pretty faces. 

This is what Centineo does in "To All the Boys I've Loved Before." His softness is his strength and his hurt, stemming from an absentee father, makes him kinder than it does brooding. Essentially, Peter is a guy capable of making selfless and heroic choices. Therefore, Centineo is primed to break out even more as Atom Smasher, and audiences who come into "Black Adam" familiar with his work in "To All the Boys..." will appreciate that elevation all the more.

Pierce Brosnan in The Ghost Writer

Few actors are more indistinguishable from the character that made them than Pierce Brosnan. That's because Brosnan is one of seven actors to ever play James Bond and the star of one of the best-ever Bond films to boot (that would be "GoldenEye.") Brosnan was Remington Steele before Bond, so he became associated with debonair spy and con man swagger almost irreversibly. There are zero questions audiences will carry that interdependence into their viewing of "Black Adam," but what's thrilling about Brosnan as a performer is his willingness to toy with his well-established iconography. Take, for example, "The Ghost Writer."

Brosnan plays Adam Lang, the former Prime Minister of England, in "The Ghost Writer." We meet him as he's fending off scandal while employing an unnamed author (Ewan McGregor) to write his memoirs, hoping they'll help soften his image. "The Ghost Writer" wants us to suspect and be charmed by Brosnan equally, and Brosnan's well aware of it. He calibrates his performance perfectly and playfully, highlighting Lang's genuine pain and darkness all while toying with audience expectations. 

It's fun to watch James Bond break bad. Just as it will be fun to watch him as a master of the mystic arts. Brosnan's self-awareness never dips into self-parody, and watching him walk that line in "The Ghost Writer" should make "Black Adam" fans very excited for his Doctor Fate.

Quintessa Swindell in Voyagers

For full transparency, Quintessa Swindell hasn't been in many movies. Although I haven't seen Paul Schrader's "Master Gardener" yet (which stars Swindell), it is more than likely better than Neil Burger's "Voyagers." "Voyagers" works right up until the moment that it doesn't. Ostensibly "Lord of The Flies" by way of The CW and space, "Voyagers" is compellingly tawdry and suspenseful. Eventually, it gives into the ludicrous and goes as off course as the mission to reach a planet more inhabitable than Earth. The reason to see it, for our purposes, is Swindell's obvious star power.

If "Voyagers" is lucky, it will cement its place in film history because its cast goes on to massive success. Besides Colin Farrell in a thankless supporting role, it has Tye Sheridan and Lily Rose-Depp, two young stars already well on their way to massive success. It appears Swindell will be joining them soon. Her character, Julie, isn't given much to do in "Voyagers" beyond being beholden to the increasingly violent and sexually charged events on board the Humanitas. 

However, Swindell plays Julie as a young woman of remarkable restraint and intellect. Her awareness is richer than the script suggests on paper, and Swindell's ability to inform Julie with these qualities is the mark of an actor who can make a rich meal from thin stock. She should, therefore, hold her own in the fight-heavy "Black Adam" rather nicely.