The Best Character In Black Adam Isn't Black Adam

This post contains spoilers for "Black Adam."

"Black Adam" is finally in theaters. While it's still up in the air whether it changes the hierarchy of power, what isn't in question is how much it expands the world of the DC Extended Universe. "Black Adam" is an origin story for the antihero played by Dwayne Johnson, but the film also features the Justice Society of America in a significant supporting role. This big-screen iteration of the team is a mix of members from different versions of the JSA in the comics, allowing for a diverse set of young and old heroes. While they each more or less get a fun moment to shine in the film, one character ends up not just being the best JSA character but the best character in "Black Adam" as a whole.

Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate is a genuinely great character whose arc in the film is so compelling, and when you pair that with a powerset that lends itself to creative action scenes, you get what is undoubtedly the best character in "Black Adam." While you would think that the titular character would be the best in the movie, several vital scenes make Brosnan's Doctor Fate a much more engaging character.

A golden age character brought to life

Introduced in the film as a veteran superhero called by Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) to aid in bringing Black Adam in, Doctor Fate immediately brings a sense of intrigue to the team dynamics. The other two members of the team, Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) play the young up-and-coming heroes who are relegated as backup. In "Black Adam," Hawkman and Doctor Fate get most of the development, with the two younger heroes feeling like "rookie" caricatures. While that's a troubling aspect of the film as a whole, the development audiences manage to get in the movie works for the most part. That's where Doctor Fate comes in, a hero burdened by his powers, but nonetheless ready to step up. 

Similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Doctor Strange, Doctor Fate uses his abilities to see into the future, a fate he sees as not always being set in stone. A big part of why the character works so well is Brosnan, as the former Bond actor taps into his usual charm, avoiding the path of the archetypical nihilistic veteran hero. Doctor Fate is a character who brings positivity and inspiration to the film despite his long years as a hero burdened by his knowledge of the future. Brosnan's calm and suave performance makes Doctor Fate feel like a Golden Age comic book character come to life.

Creative powerset

Whenever Doctor Fate uses his powers in the film, it's also highly entertaining. The costume, complete with the golden helmet, translates from page to screen well. Moreover, "Black Adam" could have gone the easy route and made the character a carbon copy of Doctor Strange. Thankfully, it's almost always an inspired effort when Doctor Fate joins in on the action. The kaleidoscopic visuals paired with Doctor Fate's abilities give the fights a different feel, and his ability to multiply himself leads to some of the more surreal sequences in the movie. The action isn't always the easiest to follow, but Doctor Fate is the best character in the film because he doesn't always need to fight to shine. Fate's alter ego, Kent Nelson, gets just as much time in the spotlight.

Kent Nelson feels like the strategist for the JSA, whose precognition and glimpses of what fate has in store for the characters make him feel like an invaluable character whether he fights or not. The scenes in which Kent merely observes Black Adam and Hawkman needlessly trading blows also bring an unexpected form of humor to the movie. You rarely see a superhero in these films who already has their life figured out, and it feels like every time Doctor Fate is on screen, he knows precisely why he's there and what needs to be done next. Unfortunately, that also leads into the tragic part of the character's story in "Black Adam."

Changing your fate

In what could easily be considered one of the best scenes in the film, Doctor Fate seals himself off from the rest of the JSA  so that he can fight Sabbac (Marwan Kenzari) alone. Throughout the movie, Doctor Fate is given premonitions by his helmet that death is in Hawkman's future. However, the hero's resolve to intervene and change fate leads to an emotional sacrificial moment. Carried by Brosnan's performance, Doctor Fate's gives a tremendous speech about how finally not seeing a future ahead of him is something beautiful. "Black Adam" and its explosive third act are wholly driven by Doctor Fate, who not only frees Black Adam so that he can stop Sabbac, but also gives his life to hold back the demon for as long as possible. The fact that Kent is doing all this while giving Black Adam a motivational speech is just the cherry on top. 

With so much of the film's resolution hinging on Doctor Fate and his sacrifice, it's much easier to see him as the best character in "Black Adam." Brosnan plays the character remarkably well, and Doctor Fate's unconventional nature and his powers provide the film with a calm, collected hero willing to risk it all to protect others. While the journey of Brosnan's version of the character begins and ends in "Black Adam," one can only hope that if another takes the mantle, they're just as engaging and entertaining as Kent Nelson. Sorry, Black Adam, there's always a chance you can be the best character in a potential sequel.