Warning: Contains IMPORTANT spoilers for Black Adam!
After introducing a full team to the Justice Society of America, Black Adam sees the death of Doctor Fate. Doctor Fate, played by Pierce Brosnan, is an old friend of Aldis Hodge’s Hawkman (aka Carter Hall). He serves as a calmer presence throughout the film, giving the JSA a more cautious look as Hawkman continually tries to defeat Black Adam in physical combat.
In the comics, Doctor Fate is a founding member of the Justice Society, and Black Adam casts Kent Nelson as a retired member of the team who returns to help with one last job. Based on historical film styles surrounding retired heroes and their latest mission, it’s perhaps unsurprising in the end that Doctor Fate dies in Black Adam. However, the lead-up to Doctor Fate’s death at the hands of Sabbac is still shocking, and there are many questions about Doctor Fate’s death. Black Adam death, his decision to fight Sabbac alone, and whether Kent Nelson or Doctor Fate have a DCEU future.
Why Doctor Fate Was Happy to Die
After a vision of Hawkman dying in the finale Black Adam fighting, Doctor Fate blocks the rest of the Justice Society from entering the palace ruins in Kandaq to fight Sabbac himself. In doing so, he seems to be able to prevent his vision from becoming reality. To do this, however, Kent Nelson must die, a fact that Doctor Fate seemed to be fully aware of when he goes to fight Sabbac.
Doctor Fate’s sacrifice in Black Adam makes sense as a way for him to save Hawkman, as the two have clearly been good friends for a long time. However, that doesn’t necessarily explain the explicit happiness that Kent Nelson seems to experience over his death. However, Doctor Fate’s Black Adam death is set up with his reluctance to use his powers. While his helmet gives him great powers, the helmet also possesses him to some extent, taking away some of his control. Those powers have allowed him to see what the future holds for many years, and it is noted that he has been around for at least 100 years. Doctor Fate’s happiness at his death comes from the freedom it gives him from the helmet and from a determined fate when he finally sees nothing for himself to worry about.
Doctor Fate’s Visions Explained (And Why He Could Change Them)
Doctor Fate’s visions of the future run everywhere Black Adam as seemingly immobile results of the story. These seem to fit Doctor Fate’s name as inescapable. In turn, the idea that this vision of the future cannot be changed fits the stories of countless movies and TV shows that have explored the results of watching into the future.
However, while Black Adam only shows one future that Doctor Fate sees, this is a bit of a cheap move from the DC movie as Kent Nelson reveals that he saw several possibilities. This is much more like the future seen in the climax of the MCU’s Infinity Saga by Doctor Strange (a character who influenced later versions of the Doctor Fate comic strip, an influence that is evident when watching Black Adam). While Doctor Fate envisioned a future in which Hawkman died, Black Adam never showed the vision that fate had where Kent Nelson died. He could see the paths to the various destinies, but knew, just as Doctor Strange did, that revealing how those paths worked too early would make their success impossible, no matter who died in the process.
Interestingly, it’s debatable whether Doctor Fate actually stopped his vision. He seemed unable to see his own death, but when Hawkman used the helmet to trick Sabbac, the vision of Hawkman’s death is identical to that in Kent Nelson’s Black Adam vision. This briefly seems like a statement that that future cannot be changed, but it’s possible that since the vision comes from Doctor Fate’s helmet, the helmet itself recreated the exact vision as part of the trickery against Sabbac.
Why Doctor Fate’s helmet disappeared after the fight (not during)
After Doctor Fate dies in black Adam, his helmet falls to the ground and is eventually picked up by Hawkman who uses his powers to help the Justice Society and Black Adam himself defeat Sabbac. Only after the fight is over does Doctor Fate’s helmet dissolve from Hawkman’s clutches, as the particles float into the air. rather in Black AdamWhen the Cyclone of the Justice Society (Quintessa Swindell) and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) discuss the helmet of fate, it is mentioned that it chooses who can touch it and use its powers, so Doctor Fate’s helmet serves as a display of how his own agency about who can touch it if it leaves Hawkman and presumably looks for a new host.
As Doctor Fate’s helmet disappears in Black Adam makes sense, it may seem strange that the helmet of fate didn’t disappear once he was killed and that Hawkman was able to touch it. Doctor Fate’s helmet can possess the wearer because (at least in the comics) he is not only sentient, but inhabited by the god Nabu. After being associated with Kent Nelson for so many years, the helmet and Nabu presumably acquired some sort of emotional sentiment towards the mortal. After Kent’s Death in the DCEUs Black Adam, the helmet stayed nearby and allowed Hawkman to use his power to take revenge on Sabbac for killing Kent. But once that revenge was settled, the helmet moved on.
Will the fate of the doctor return to the DCEU?
When a major comic book character dies, it’s not uncommon for them not to stay that way. But after Doctor Fate’s Black Adam dead, can he return to the DCEU? The short answer is yes, but there is a bit more complexity to it. In the comics, Doctor Fate is defined by the helmet, not the person, and while Kent Nelson is the first Doctor Fate in each iteration of the DC timeline, he’s not the only one. With the departure of the helmet at the end of Black Adamit seems likely that the helmet could be passed on to a new host and that a version of Doctor Fate could reappear in the DCEU, despite his death in Black Adam.
But perhaps the bigger question is about the Black Adam death is whether or not Pierce Brosnan’s Kent Nelson can return to the DCEU. Technically, it wasn’t Doctor Fate who actually died, but Kent himself, and while the helmet may take on a new host (in the most recent comics, Kent’s mantle is taken over by his apprentice and great-nephew Khalid Nassour), Kent returns to the DCEU in full form seems unlikely. There’s a door open for Pierce Brosnan to play his again Black Adam role in the DCEU however like in the animated series young justice, after Kent Nelson’s death, he can keep his ghost in the helmet for a while. This could allow Kent and Pierce Brosnan to appear to future users of the helmet, if not in fully corporeal form, and could also provide an additional reason why Hawkman was able to use Doctor Fate’s helmet after Kent’s death. Nelson in Black Adam.
Next: Henry Cavill’s Superman Return Should Be More Than Just Fighting Black Adam