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Who Is Atom Smasher in ‘Black Adam’?

Who Is Atom Smasher in ‘Black Adam’?

The size-changing hero not only is a steadfast member of the Justice Society — he also has a surprising connection with the Suicide Squad!

Black Adam marks the live-action debut of the Justice Society of America, as the legendary superhero team will do battle with Dwayne Johnson’s vengeful demigod. This version of the Society contains four members: winged warrior Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), wind manipulator Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), the Lord of Order Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), and finally, Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo). It’s the last one that may prove to be the most interesting character, as he has a long and troubled history in DC Comics canon.

Like most of the Justice Society members, Albert “Al” Rothstein aka Atom Smasher has a connection to the Golden Age of superheroics. His godfather is Al Pratt, the Golden Age version of the size-changing superhero known as the Atom. Like Pratt, Rothstein has the ability to grow up to 60 feet in size. As he grows larger, his strength and durability increase to colossal levels. But his powers come from the villainous side of the family — specifically his grandfather, who was once the supervillain known as Cyclotron.

A History of Superheroism
Rothstein first started his superhero career as Nuklon, joining the superhero team known as Infinity, Inc alongside fellow legacy heroes Wildcat (Yolanda Montez), Doctor Mid-Nite (Beth Chapel) and Hourman (Rick Tyler). He’d also become a member of the Justice League of America, though his tenure was cut short by the invading alien superteam known as the Hyperclan. It wasn’t until the Justice Society was reformed that he found his calling, renaming himself Atom Smasher and working alongside younger heroes including Stargirl and some of his fellow former Infinity Inc teammates including Hourman.

Atom Smasher has a unique connection to Black Adam. In fact, he may be one of the few people who the antihero can call a “friend.” Said friendship didn’t get off to a great start, however. Smasher joined most of his teammates in expressing a healthy amount of skepticism when Adam claimed to reject his villainous ways and joined the Justice Society. However, the two connected over their frustration with the Society’s moral code. Adam, being Adam, was used to delivering lethal force to stop his foes. For Smasher, the Society had prevented him from killing the terrorist Kobra after Kobra had engineered a plane crash that led to the death of his mother.

The final straw came when Kobra escaped prison. Both Adam and Smasher joined forces to overthrow Adam’s home nation of Khandaq, with Smasher killing its president and leading a coup with some of his former Infinity Inc. teammates. In return, Adam kills Kobra. This leads to a battle with the Justice Society, and an uneasy truce. Adam is allowed to rule Khandaq — but he, Smasher, and their allies can never leave its borders.

Links to the Suicide Squad
Smasher was eventually put on trial for his actions and sentenced to jail time. He wouldn’t stay long: Amanda Waller approached him for help in putting together a new Suicide Squad to battle Adam.

Black Adam is not the first time Atom Smasher has appeared in a DC Universe project. He briefly appeared in Justice League Unlimited, and was played as a villain by Adam Copeland in the Season 2 premiere of The Flash. And while it remains to be seen if Atom Smasher will form a similar bond with Black Adam in the film, the presence of Viola Davis as Waller may hint at him possibly joining the supervillain black ops squad in the future. Whatever the case, he’ll definitely be one of the most compelling Justice Society members in the film.