Blackhawk is a 1952 Columbia black-and-white movie serial based on the comic book Blackhawk published at the time by Quality Comics which is now a part of DC Comics. The serial carried the subtitle "Fearless Champion of Freedom"; it was Columbia's 49th serial.
It stars Kirk Alyn as Blackhawk and Carol Forman as the foreign spy that must be stopped from stealing the experimental super-fuel "Element-X"; Alyn and Forman were also the hero and villain of Columbia's earlier Superman. Blackhawk was produced by the famously cheap Sam Katzman and directed by the team of Spencer Gordon Bennet and Fred F. Sears. It is considered relatively cheap and lackluster, made in the waning years of movie serial production.
A flying squadron of World War II veterans, The International Brotherhood, is a private flying investigative force led by Blackhawk. They uncover a gang of underworld henchmen, led by the notorious foreign spy Laska, who reports to The Leader, a mystery man. During the a serial's 15 chapters, Blackhawk and his flying squadron set about bringing these criminals to justice.
Writer George Plympton described a production staff meeting where they listened to a recording of the short-lived Blackhawk radio series. Everyone at the meeting was "aghast at the confusing babble of accents." For Columbia's serial, all of the Blackhawks speak with standard American accents.
In chapter 3 Kirk Alyn performs a potentially dangerous stunt without the use of a stunt double. In order to save the life of squadron member Stan, who's tied to a stake in the path of a taxiing plane, Blackhawk (Alyn) runs up to the vehicle and turns it aside by grabbing the wing. A hidden pilot inside the plane steered it to simulate the movement. When writing this scene, the screenwriters were thinking of a small lighter wood-and-canvas plane, not the heavy metal aircraft used in the final scene; it could have easily killed Alyn if the stunt's timing had gone wrong.
William C. Cline describes the serial as a "pretty good airplane adventure" in his book In the Nick of Time. Despite this, Blackhawk was the last aviation serial; fliers had rapidly become less impressive in American popular culture, and science fiction was taking its place.
Made in the 1950s, Blackhawk was produced after the movie serial's heyday; many from this period were generally inferior to those made in the previous decade.