Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate in Black Adam

No Matter What Doctor Strange Fanboys Think, Doctor Fate Is Not a Knockoff

For the last few years, Doctor Strange had the privilege of being the only supernatural doctor in the comic book verse. In Black Adam mainstream audiences got the first film on-screen depiction of Doctor Fate. Naturally, there has been some discussion about who is the ”knockoff,” and the truth is somewhere in the middle.

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Firstly, the character of Doctor Fate did technically come first. The first version of Fate, Kent Nelson (as played by Pierce Brosnan in Black Adam), appeared in May 1940’s More Fun Comics #55, as created by Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman. Nelson was an archaeologist who, during an expedition, accidentally awakened the fictionalized version of the Mesopotamian god Nabu, who taught him magic.

Many people have taken the title of Doctor Fate, and Nelson has been able to play as a mentor to them and other magic users in the DC Comics world. His grandnephew, Khalid Nassour, is the most recent version of Fate to exist in comics.

Doctor Strange was created by Steve Ditko over 20 years later, in July of 1963. His backstory is very similar to that of his film adaptation. An arrogant neurosurgeon, who gets injured and then travels East in order to discover new healing practices, is humbled and then becomes the Sorcerer Supreme.

As a creation of the Silver Age of comics, Doctor Strange, under Ditko, was known for its surreal and almost hallucinogenic quality—a quality that would make people assume the writing and drawing team were on drugs. The character has remained popular over the years and is very often called up to handle large magical threats or provide insight for those suffering from different afflictions. He has worked with everyone from Elektra to Superman.

Fate and Strange serve many similar functions, and there is no denying that, despite it being said that Strange was crafted after a radio program, that there are aspects that bleed into each other—Black Cat and Catwoman, Deadpool and Deathstroke, Captain Marvel and … Captain Marvel. The list goes on and on. Yet, just like in those above examples, it isn’t really about the similar name, but how each character is developed—the nuances that make them more interesting and how they reflect the comic book universe they live in.

Fate, for example, as a product of the Golden Age of comics and a DC character, is much more of a noble character (although he has shades of arrogance from time to time). There is also the added factor of his magical bond with Nobu at times threatening to take him over. With his character, being Doctor Fate is a duty, not something he loves, in comparison to Strange, who does, despite it all, love being Sorcerer Supreme.

Neither is a knockoff of each other; they are two characters who share a similar purpose, but differ in legacy, origins, and what that purpose means to them as a people. That is more interesting than both of them being doctors.

(featured image: WB/DC)


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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.