The DCEU timeline isn’t well explained, making the chronological placement of Black Adam hard to figure out before the movie is released.
There’s a lot still unknown about how Black Adam will unfold, both in its individual storyline and as far as the wider DC Extended Universe goes. Likewise, there’s just as much unknown about the DCEU’s timeline and chronology, with what’s been shown in Black Adam only confusing matters more. This is the exact opposite of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in which movies’ events are pinpointed to the very second in relation to the timeline.
Black Adam has long been hyped up as a sort of new beginning for the DCEU, and that may be more true than some fans know. That’s only compounded by plans for and issues with other DC movies, none of which make the timeline an easy thing to understand. Here’s why the Dwayne Johnson film is such an outlier in the DCEU at the moment and how it could get even more perplexing.
So far, most of the major DCEU films post-2017, with Wonder Woman 1984 being a notable exception, have firmly taken place after the events of Justice League. This can be seen in 2021’s The Suicide Squad and its Peacemaker spinoff, as well as the events of the first Aquaman movie. By this precedent, it could be assumed that the same goes for Black Adam, whether that’s true or not. There are no references to the already established DCEU characters, with heroes such as Superman and Wonder Woman not being so much as spoken of in the footage shown so far. This makes sense, given that it’s Black Adam’s film and not theirs, but other absences are particularly egregious.
There’s no reference to the wizard Shazam or Billy Batson, suggesting that this movie could take place before or during Shazam!. That would explain why Black Adam’s greatest rival is nowhere to be found in his first movie. Given that Billy and his family seem to be more low-key, there’s the potential that Black Adam is actually set after the second Shazam! movie. Another theory is that this movie could even be adjacent to Justice League, though which version is unknown. It would be particularly interesting, if unlikely, that Black Adam is a sequel to the events of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, though tentative plans for the DCEU could result in an even weirder scenario.
Another upcoming DCEU flick is The Flash, which has been in development and delayed almost as many times as Black Adam. That movie has numerous behind-the-scenes issues plaguing it, which could change its already controversial plans. Said plans involve heavily rebooting the DC Extended Universe as audiences know it, namely the events of films like 2013’s Man of Steel. Given what’s going on with that movie, not to mention the renewed interest in Superman by David Zaslav, it’s highly unlikely that some of that still happens.
Nevertheless, Black Adam could still take place in a largely altered world. Instead of being set after the events of Justice League, his movie might be in a new, altered timeline where the Justice League never formed. This would explain why the Justice Society is the prominent superhero team seen in the movie’s footage so far, whereas the League is nowhere to be seen. While this is a feasible theory, there’s also the fact that Dwayne Johnson really wants a showdown between Black Adam and Henry Cavill’s Superman. Said confrontation all depends on them actually existing in the same timeline, a prospect that is increasingly muddled by the development of the DCEU.
Black Adam thunders into theaters on October 21, 2022.
Timothy Blake Donohoo is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he majored in Communication and minored in Creative Writing.
A professional freelance writer and marketing expert, he’s written marketing copy and retail listings for companies such as Viatek.
In his spare time, he enjoys reading, playing video games, watching documentaries and catching up on the latest Vaporwave and Electro-Swing musical releases.