- Who Is Doctor Fate?
- Doctor Fate’s Origin
- Powers and Abilities
- Other Wearers of the Helmet
- Doctor Fate’s Signature Villains
- Doctor Fate, the Justice Society of America and Black Adam
- Doctor Fate in TV and Games
Doctor Fate Explained
Who Is Doctor Fate?
Of all of the magic users in the DC universe, Doctor Fate is one of the most powerful. His mystical power comes from an ancient being named Nabu, his mentor and a Lord of Order dedicated to fighting against agents of chaos. Kent Nelson is one of many to wield the powers of the Helmet of Fate, but as a founding member of the Justice Society of America, he might be the most legendary.When he isn’t at JSA headquarters, Doctor Fate operates out of Salem, Massachusetts. His Tower of Fate, a foreboding brick building with no doors or windows, holds his considerable collection of archaeological and mystical artifacts.
Fate fights against countless otherworldly threats in the messy world of magic.
Doctor Fate’s Origin
Readers first met Doctor Fate in 1940’s More Fun Comics #55, but his origin wasn’t revealed until 1941. The beginning of Kent Nelson’s tale is a tragic one. As a boy he accompanied his archaeologist father into an unexplored ancient temple. He wandered away and discovered a figure seemingly frozen in time. Following the mysterious man’s mental command, Kent pulled a nearby lever. The device not only revived the man, but released a lethal gas that instantly killed Kent’s father.
The being’s name was Nabu. He hailed from the planet Cilia and was close to half a million years old, he revealed to Kent. He offered to teach the boy the secrets of the universe in return for the horrible accident that befell his father. (Kent, understandably, would have preferred to have his dad back.)
Nabu taught Kent the ways of mysticism and magic. When his teaching was complete, he tasked Kent with a mission to “bring good to those on Earth who use the ancient magics to do evil.” To that end, he gave the young man a cloak, amulet, golden helmet, and the name Doctor Fate.
Doctor Fate went on to fulfill that mission for years to come, first with his wife and partner Inza and later as a founding member of the Justice Society of America. Most recently Kent Nelson served as an invaluable advisor and member of the Justice League Dark.
Powers and Abilities
Doctor Fate wears the golden Helmet of Fate, Cloak of Destiny, and Amulet of Anubis. The Helmet of Fate is the source of Nabu’s power and his spirit inhabits the artifact. When the helmet is worn, Nabu shares the “host body,” and together they become Doctor Fate. Kent has mystical abilities of his own without the helmet, but they are significantly stronger when it is donned.
Levitation, telekinesis, telepathy, energy bolts, energy shields, teleportation, intangibility, healing, and time manipulation are just some of Doctor Fate’s powers. His magic spells often manifest with the projection of an ankh, the Egyptian symbol for life.
Kent is also an accomplished archaeologist and scholar.
Other Wearers of the Helmet
The years of battling against chaos finally caught up with Kent Nelson, and shortly after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, he and Nabu were ready to train his successor. Young Eric Strauss was chosen. The helmet continued to change hands through the death of its bearer. Kent’s wife Inza Nelson, Linda Strauss, Jared Stevens, and Hector Hall all wore the mantle of Doctor Fate.
Eventually chance (or something else) brought the helmet, without Nabu’s spirit inside, to psychiatrist Kent V. Nelson at the lowest point of his life. This Kent Nelson was the great-grandnephew of the original Doctor Fate, and he was thrown into a life he didn’t know was possible.
Many years later, a new Doctor Fate wielded the power of Nabu. Khalid Nassour, a young medical student, stumbled upon a golden helmet during a trip to the museum. The goddess Bastet bid him to put it on. The spirit inside identified itself as Nabu, servant to the Egyptian god Thoth.
Becoming Doctor Fate seemed to be Khalid’s destiny. In a surprising twist of Fate (see what we did there), it turned out that Khalid was the great-nephew of the original Doctor Fate, Kent Nelson. Kent paid a visit to his family and became a mentor to the young hero. Together they faced opponents who threatened not just innocent lives but the existence of magic itself.
Doctor Fate’s Signature Villains
One of Kent Nelson’s first foes was Negal of Charn, a demon-like entity who was the ruler of an underworld realm. Doctor Fate followed an undead shadow into Charn’s depths and quickly disarmed Negal. The underworld ruler agreed to stay away from the world of men, and was true to his word until many years later when he crossed paths with a new Doctor Fate in the form of Kent V. Nelson.
Nabu may have been the source of Doctor Fate’s power, but he straddled the line between good and evil. The Lord of Order did whatever he thought was necessary to win the war against chaos. He devised a desperate strategy to destroy all magic and magical beings to keep order, and wrested control of Kent’s body to enact his plan. It took Zatanna and Wonder Woman making an ill-advised bargain with a Lord of Chaos and the Justice League Dark’s combined power to stop the Lords of Order from extinguishing magic. Nabu was completely sealed inside the Helmet of Fate, trapped for eternity.
Doctor Fate, the Justice Society of America, and Black Adam
Black Adam, or Teth-Adam, is the primary antagonist for Shazam and was once a foe of the Justice Society of America. (In time he joined their ranks as a member.) As a founding member of the JSA, Doctor Fate is well-acquainted with the antihero.
In the upcoming Black Adam film starring Dwayne Johnson, Pierce Brosnan will play Kent Nelson alongside Aldis Hodge as Hawkman, Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher, and Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone. Details on the plot are sparse, but with the involvement of the JSA and Kent Nelson, the film could take place in the past during the Golden Age of heroes—or even on a parallel Earth that isn’t part of the DCEU.
Black Adam First Trailer Screenshots
Doctor Fate in TV and Games
- TV: Did you know the Black Adam movie won’t be the live action debut of Doctor Fate? He first appeared in TV’s Smallville and also popped up in Stargirl. He’s also a fixture in DC animation, including Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Young Justice, and Justice League Action.
- Games: Take Fate into your hands in DC Universe Online, DC Legends, LEGO Batman, LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, Injustice: Gods Among Us, and Injustice 2.
What do you hope to see from Pierce Brosnan’s Doctor Fate in the Black Adam movie? Let’s discuss in the comments!
Kelly Knox is a freelance entertainment writer who also contributes to StarWars.com, DCComics.com, Nerdist, and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, and comics.