DC’s newest anti-hero is changing the hierarchy of the DC Cinematic Universe, but the heart of Black Adam is the relationship between Sarah Shahi (Sex/Life) and comedian Mo Amer, who star as brother and sister duo Adrianna and Karim. The latest big screen release from Warner Bros. introduces several new superheroes thanks to the Justice Society of America, but it also gives the humans of the story time in the spotlight.
Ahead of Black Adam’s theatrical release, Screen Rant spoke with Sarah Shahi about how Dwayne Johnson’s DCEU character will blur the lines of what it means to be a superhero, and why Black Adam resonates with her character.
Mohammed also Amer opens up about Middle Eastern representation in the DCEU and how his character Karim views Black Adam as a terrifying protector.
Sarah Shahi & Mo Amer on the Humanity in Black Adam
Screen Rant: The first question’s for you, Sarah. How does Adrianna differ from Black Adam, and how is she the same?
Sarah Shahi: Well, she can’t shoot electricity through her eyes. I was trying to, one day on set; I was like…
Mohammed Amer: Yeah. She hit me once.
Sarah Shahi: Nothing was happening. But no, she’s human. And they do have their similarities. She’s, for all purposes, a badass, although I hate that word. And they both have a lot in common in the sense that they were family people. She has a son. She lost her husband. He had a family that he had since lost. So the idea of seeking revenge to protect your family, or to redeem the death of your loved ones, is something that I think resonates with the two of them.
And also, Adrianna was like Tomb Raider meets Indiana Jones. And so it was important not only to show just her toughness and her ability in that sense but also her vulnerabilities and the softness in her. Because she does kind of become the Black Adam Whisperer. To be able to watch that transition happen and to see how they affect each other in that space was also important.
Mohammed, I know that Khandaq is a fictional location. However, this is our first time, in the superhero genre, exploring Middle East territory. We’re moving in the right direction toward representation. But what does that mean to you, having that representation starting here in Black Adam?
Mohammed Amer: It means the world to me. It just has my own series, as well. Writing that, I always thought about how FUBU is “For Us, By Us” is “For Us, but For Everyone.” That’s how I think about it. And it’s important to make these universal stories of compassion and just humanize these characters that are normally demonized and dehumanized.
It’s a huge privilege and an honor to be a part of a story like this, and it’s not just about inclusion. It’s not just about a fictionalized Middle East, but also about spirituality, ego, worldly desires, faith, and belief. It’s just a beautiful way to just encompass everything that I, at least, was raised by and made aware of at a very young age. And it resonated deeply for me and for all of us. Not just us brown folk in the show, here in the movie. It was everyone that had a big deal, a big part in this film, that took this very seriously and understood that this is important to execute this at the highest level.
A big part of this movie’s theme is morality. Can you talk to me about Adrianna’s perception of morality with Black Adam versus the JSA?
Sarah Shahi: Yes. Well, she is all Team Black Adam. It’s like the purpose of this movie is to blur the lines between heroes and villains. That is something that is such a definition that can be subjective.
She has the full capacity to save something; to have the rebirth, you need to destroy something else. The country cannot survive if Intergang is around. They need to go.
It’s like she and the JSA, they are counter to that. They want justice and peace, but they want it by saving everybody. When they come in, they’re saying, “We’re your heroes; we want to protect you.” And Adrianna has that speech where she’s like, “Well, where were you 20 years ago when all this stuff happened?” That’s not a hero!
They’re coming from their own needs and looking at it from that perspective, and I’m coming from it from my own needs and what serves our country.
Mohammed, we know the destruction that Black Adam was able to cause. How does your character feel about Black Adam, though? Does he look at him as a protector?
Mohammed Amer: He does, but he’s also terrified of him. He’s trusting his sister in this whole process, and he understands that this, I guess, had to be done. But he’s also very nervous about it. And the nerves come from, “Are you going to be able to control him and bring him back to earth, no pun intended, because he flies?”
But that was the main concern of the character. Trusting his sister and understanding the history of it all, he doesn’t want anything to do with it. But he feels, in the end, that it’s the right thing to do and the way to earn our freedom.
About Black Adam
Nearly 5,000 years after he was bestowed with the almighty powers of the Egyptian gods — and imprisoned just as quickly — Black Adam is freed from his earthly tomb, ready to unleash his unique form of justice on the modern world.
Check out our other Black Adam interviews here:
Next: 10 Things That Redditors Want To See In Black Adam
Black Adam arrives in theaters on October 21.