The Rock's 'Black Adam' Characters Have Bonkers Backgrounds
This week, DC released a little "Hey, we exist too!" sizzle reel containing new footage from their upcoming movies: The Batman, The Flash, Black Adam, and Aquaman: We Stand By Amber Heard (But Will Continue Hiding Her In The Trailers). Black Adam, starring The Rock as Shazam's dark counterpart, is interesting because it includes a bunch of DC characters who have never been on the big screen before -- unlike The Batman, which features the third cinematic Penguin and Riddler, the fifth Catwoman, and the second and sixth Batmen.
So, it's kind of refreshing to see DC take their chances with weirdos like Dr. Fate, a mystical hero capable of awe-inspiring magical feats, the foremost of which is being able to see through that helmet.
Dr. Fate debuted in 1940, and his origin stated that he was a kid called Kent Nelson who, while exploring an Egyptian pyramid with his archeologist dad, stumbled upon and freed a 500,000 year old alien called Nabu the Wise. Unfortunately, Kent's dad breathed some ancient Egyptian poison gas and died in the process. Nabu, whose wisdom doesn't extend to knowing how to tactfully deal with children, tried to comfort Kent by ... forcing him to train in ancient space magic over the next 20 years.
Nabu also gave Kent a helmet through which he could possess him, because he's nice like that. This version of Dr. Fate remained active until the '80s, which is when things got really weird. When Kent Nelson died, Nabu picked another kid called Eric Strauss to be the new Dr. Fate, with the caveats that he had to 1) be magically grown into an adult, and 2) merge with his stepmother Linda to achieve full power, for some reason. This superheroic take on Tom Hanks' Big took a dark turn when Eric got fatally ill from Nabu's fast-aging magic and Linda had to become Dr. Fate by herself, even joining the Justice League at one point.
Through the sort of convoluted series of events that can only exist in comics, Eric and Linda ended up dying but reincarnating as an older married couple, while Nabu reincarnated as their unborn child. Because, oh yeah: the adult kid and his stepmom were in love. A resurrected Kent Nelson had another stint as Dr. Fate (this time, merging with his wife) only to end up dying again. After that, DC revamped the character as an EXTREME, gun-loving character called Fate. Just Fate, no doctorate. Doctoring is for wusses.
There have been other Dr. Fates since then, but somehow the helmet always comes back to Kent Nelson, so he's the one who's being played by Pierce Brosnan. If they follow the comics, perhaps one day we'll get to see what he'd look like merged with Benedict Cumberbatch.
All of this character confusion is nothing compared to another long-time DC hero shown in the Black Adam footage: Hawkman, the one who appears to be dressed for a pretty badass Cirque du Soleil production.
Like Dr. Fate, Hawkman's 1940s origin is tied to Egypt: he was an archeologist named Carter Hall who, upon touching an old-ass knife, remembers he was an Egyptian prince in a past life and uses and uses cutting edge ancient technology to make himself an anti-gravity belt (the wings are pretty much for show). In the '60s, Hawkman was rebooted as an alien police officer whose uniform happened to look like Carter Hall's suit. In the '80s, the character was rebooted again ... while the previous version was still around, which caused all sorts of continuity hiccups. DC addressed the problem by merging all the Hawkmen into one guy, which somehow made things even more confusing.
Later, it was established that all Hawkmen were the same guy reincarnated across time and space. Hopefully the movies do something similar, because that would mean the live action Hawkman below can still be canon:
Top image: Warner Bros.