The Neglected Nemeses: Doctor Doom
Every once in a while, I need to resurrect a baddie that has already been featured in a film, mostly due to the fact that the first interpretation of the character was so bad, they need to be given a second chance just to show off what their true character. Case in point: Doctor Doom. Doom was originally featured in Tim Story’s 2005 Fantastic Four film and again in 2007′s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, both times played by Julian McMahon. I’ll be honest, I didn’t totally hate the casting of McMahon, as he is a fairly decent actor. The problem comes from the fact that the character was written so badly, McMahon was doomed (pun intended) from the get go- he didn’t stand a chance to make something of the character, which was a neutered version of the comic book character that we all know and love so much. With a reboot of the franchise in the works at Fox, it would provide a perfect time to start anew with the Doctor Doom character, and the whole damn franchise for that matter. I know the “darker, grittier” approach has been done to death, but I can think of no other franchise that needs it more.
Victor von Doom was born in the fictional country known as Latveria to gypsies Werner and Cynthia. Victor knew little of his mother who was killed after summoning the demon Mephisto, trying to harness it’s power. The plan backfired and the power raged out of control. She was eventually killed by a soldier who witnessed the event. Before dying however, Cynthia made Werner promise to protect their son from Mephisto, which he did until his death, caused by exposure to the elements after Werner and Victor were forced to flee their kingdom. the young victor was placed in the care of Boris, a friend of Werner. Having discovered his mother’s artifacts, Victor began to train himself in the arts of sorcery and in an attempt to set his mother’s soul free, he and Mephisto met in an annual battle. By the time he was a teenager, von Doom had become a scientific genius and using his newly discovered inventions, he waged a one-man war against the monarchy of Latveria, always staying one step ahead of them.
Word of Victor’s genius eventually made it’s way to the United States and he was invited to attend Empire State University. In doing so, he left behind his love Valeria and further extended his knowledge, which he vowed to use to seek revenge on those who wronged him. Upon arriving, Reed Richards offered to become roommates with Victor, which he quickly dismissed.
Throughout his university days, Doom pursued a rivalry with Richards, convinced of his own superior intellect. Doom’s greatest invention was a machine designed to rescue his mother’s soul from the netherworld. Richards tried to warn him of a flaw in his calculations, but Doom was too proud to listen. He activated the machine and it exploded in his face. Expelled for the explosion, Doom sustained only a few facial scars, but believed his looks had been ruined.
Having been embarrassed and scarred, if only a little, Victor found his way to Tibet, where he met the Aged Ghengis. The senile sorcerer told von Doom to seek a lost order of monks, which he soon found and made them his slaves. Victor ordered them to create a suit of armor that would hide his face from the world. The mask was placed on the face of Doom before it had time to cool, ensuring that his face became severely scarred.
Now using the moniker Dr. Doom, he returned to Latveria where he slayed King Vladimir and imprisoned his son Rudolfo. In order to ensure the crown was relinquished to him, Doom created a robot that was identical to Rudolpho and used this robot to surrender the crown to Doom. Victor created a kingdom where no Latverian would want or the citizens could live free of war, and of course, all praise to Doom or deal with the consequences. Doom maintained a puppet of a Prime Minister to act as a ruler, but the outside world knew nothing of his actual rule of the country. Dr. Doom soon set three goals for himself: 1- Free his mother, 2- Prove his superiority over Reed Richards and 3- Conquer the world. By this time, Reed and his friends had formed the Fantastic Four and Dr. Doom sought them out, taking the Invisible Girl. In order to retrieve her, the remaining members were forced to travel back in time and gather the gems of the legendary Merlin. But Reed outsmarted him, bringing back only chains.
During the wedding of Reed and Sue Storm, Doom summoned a number of super-villains and unleashed them on the wedding party and their guests. The group of villains were defeated, however, thanks to the FF4 and their super hero friends who were in attendance. Reed, with the assistance of a ub-atronic time displacer, sent the villains back to the time before they were summoned by Doom. Later, Doom acquired the powers of the Silver Surfer, which he lost when he challenged the barrier Galactus has placed around the earth.
Doom has had several partnerships during his run, including the Sub-Mariner. The pair joined forces, thinking their combined hatred for the FF4 would win out. However, just as Dr. Doom was to hurl the Baxter Building into the sun, Sub-Mariner turned on him and Doom was sent adrift in space. When the Faceless One staged a coup in Latveria, Doom hired Luke Cage as a spy, but when it came time for payment, Doom refused to pay. Cage tracked Doom to Latveria where the two fought to a stand-still, causing Doom to agree to a payment. When the people of Atlantis were rendered comatose, Namor was forced to seek the help of Doom after Reed Richards was unable to assist. In turn, Namor assisted Doom against Andro, formerly the Doomsman, who had brought many of Doom’s robots under his control through a self-created religion. The two have had an on-again-off-again alliance, but Namor has never fully trusted Dr. Doom.
The above stories are but a small portion of the history of this eclectic and dominant force in the Marvel Universe; a force that deserves a better interpretation than we have previously endured through. The problem lies not really with Doom, but with the Fantastic Four: How do you create a film based on a group of characters that has traditionally been viewed as “family oriented” and at times, even campy? As a whole the four main characters and their powers can come across as a bit silly and non-threatening. We as comic fans know better than that however. No disrespect to Red Skull at all, but if Marvel can pull that character off as well as they did in Captain America, then they should be able to create a FF4 film that won’t come across as childish and silly. Now that we have Chronicle directo Josh trank attached, maybe we can get the FF4 film we deserve.
So who should don the metal mask and portray this powerful bad ass? I know this name gets tossed around a lot for comic book villains, but Doom is seems, to me at least, that Jason Isaacs was born to play. Jason Isaacs is not only an amazing actor, but the man handles villainous roles like he was bred for it. For instance, his role in The Patriot, opposite Mel Gibson, was down-right chilling at times and his acting in the role of Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter series, while not as violent and heartless, was still evil incarnate. A role like Doom would be one that he could fully embrace and let the darkness inside be unleashed! Isaacs has proven time and again that his skills as an actor are far from lacking, jumping from character to character and giving each one of them a new spin and creativeness. Jason Isaacs is one of those actors that could be cast as just about anyone and he’d own the role like no other.
ecksmanfan (Josh Johnson/GeekBoy) is a contributor here at Comic Book Therapy, helping readers to control the geek within. Josh is the owner and editor of GeekBoyMovieNews, your go-to website for all things related to geek movies, plus a little bit more. If you have suggestions for the next installment of The Neglected Nemeses, be sure to mention it in the comments below! You can view past installments of The Neglected Nemeses by CLICKING HERE.