Doomsday, who finally made his cinematic debut in this year’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, is like DC’s version of the Hulk: uncontrollable, unstoppable, and strong enough to level entire cities. But whereas Bruce Banner’s green-skinned alter-ego has friends like Rick Jones, Iron Man, and Betty Ross, and tends to hang out with good guys like the Avengers — albeit while causing some collateral damage along the way — Doomsday utterly despises all forms of life, crushes small birds in his hands, has no kind feelings toward anyone, and desires nothing but the total destruction of anything that gets in his path.
Doomsday will forever be remembered as the terrifying villain who finally killed Superman, a climactic feat that even classic villains like Lex Luthor and Brainiac were never able to pull off. But Doomsday, though mindless and indestructible, is not a character who comes from simple beginnings. His ancient, torturous history is more complex than many realize. Now that the beast is back in the headlines, read on to learn 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Doomsday.
15. He’s as Prehistoric as a Dinosaur
Though Batman V Superman kept Doomsday’s Kryptonian roots intact by presenting the monster as a hybridized creation of General Zod’s corpse, ancient Kryptonian technology, and the machinations of Lex Luthor, the comic book Doomsday’s history goes even further back. The Krypton that Doomsday comes from is so ancient, in fact, that Doomsday himself existed many hundreds of years before humanoids became the planet’s dominant species — primarily because back then, the surface of Krypton was so hellishly dangerous that few life forms could survive stepping out the front door.
Doomsday is the result of experiments by the alien scientist Bertron, who sought to create a humanoid lifeform that could survive life on Krypton. To do this, he threw out a humanoid baby onto the planet, where it was immediately killed. After this, Bertron recovered the infant’s remains and cloned them, then put the cloned baby back out into Krypton — repeating this process over and over, with the baby dying each time. Bertron, through murdering this baby over and over, was creating a form of accelerated evolution… and each time he put the recloned infant back out into Krypton, it became stronger.
14. He’s Died More Often Than Some People Do Laundry
This horrible experiment would be one thing if the cloned-and-recloned infant didn’t know about all of the times it had been murdered, but the memory of all these thousands of deaths became recorded in the lifeform’s genes; thus, its entire memory was filled with nothing but the endless torture of dying in brutal ways, over and over again, for decades. By the time that the new lifeform was actually able to survive the harsh atmosphere of Krypton, no longer needed to eat and breathe, had no more use for internal organs, and had then killed all of early Krypton’s most powerful predators, it was ready to murder its most dangerous enemy of all: Bertron himself, whose desperate pleas for life were ignored by the monster he’d so unmercifully created.
Since then, Doomsday has died again many, many times. Betron’s experiments to create “The Ultimate,” as Doomsday was originally named, resulted in a creature with such fantastic regeneration abilities that he can recover from any injury and any death. Furthermore, Doomsday is constantly evolving to become more powerful. Every time he dies one way, he becomes resistant to that form of injury, and can never be killed the same way again. There was at least one time that the only way Doomsday could be defeated was to leave him stranded at the End of Time, trapping his body within the heat death of the universe. That’s at least one death that nobody, not even Doomsday, can evolve past. The X-Men’s Juggernaut is pretty damn unstoppable, but Doomsday might have him beat.
13. He’s Got a History with Darkseid
Darkseid, one of DC’s big bads who will likely play a huge role in the two Justice League movies, has a fairly personal history with Superman’s killer… and it’s not a happy one.
After the Ultimate first escapes from Krypton, he makes his way to the planet Bylon 5, where his murderous rampage (not for any particular reason, it’s just that Doomsday arriving anywhere means a murderous rampage) interrupts the wedding bells between Darkseid and the planet’s princess. Doomsday quickly manages to destroy the planet’s atmosphere, poisoning its resources, and forcing Darkseid to escape before he and Doomsday can fight each other directly.
They meet again, many centuries later, when Doomsday finds his way to Darkseid’s home planet of Apokolips. Doomsday’s mindless rage tears right through Apokolips, leading him right to Darkseid, a god-like foe whom Doomsday single-handedly devastates in combat. Even Darkseid’s legendary Omega Beams — the energy force that he projects from his eyes, capable of disintegrating any living organism in seconds — prove to be no match against Doomsday, marking him as one of the few beings in history to ever withstand them… especially at point blank range.
12. He’s Killed Millions (Including a Whole Bunch of Green Lanterns)
Years and years before Superman battles him to the death on Earth, many planets across the universe face their Doomsday, and not all of these worlds are lucky enough to survive the encounter. The planet Calaton suffers the rampages of the Ultimate for three years, seeing everything but their capital city destroyed at his hands, and the planet’s natives are only able to get rid of him by combining into one being and blasting away an entire fifth of their planet. The planet Khundia is also unfortunate enough to suffer an invasion from Krypton’s ancient monster, until they are able to shoot him off into space.
One of Doomsday’s most horrific rampages occurs when he meets the Green Lantern Zharan Pell and then steals his power ring. Though he’s not the most imaginative creature in the universe, the Ultimate wielding a green power ring is certainly not something that any of us more imaginative beings want to picture, and the Guardians of the Universe are, unsurprisingly enough, utterly terrified. When the monster speeds right towards Oa, an onslaught of Green Lanterns go out to face him, and every single one of them is murdered by Doomsday. At the last moment, one of the Guardians is only able to stop Doomsday’s wrath by sacrificing himself, and thus tearing open a hole in space that the Ultimate falls into.
11. He Beat the Entire Justice League with One Hand Tied Behind His Back
After his death on Calaton, Doomsday’s corpse is tied up, sealed into a metal capsule, and shot into space, where it floats around for a long, long time. Unfortunately for us on Earth, this capsule ends up crash landing here, and the now-revived Doomsday is able to free one of his hands and bust his way out of the capsule, whereupon he immediately crushes an innocent bird in his free palm. Once the monster starts tearing a path through the Midwest, he gets the attention of the Justice League, who combine all of their powers to take on Doomsday — and aren’t strong enough to stand up to him.
It’s already insane enough that one being could take down the entire Justice League, but what makes it even more impressive is that as it happens, only one of Doomsday’s hands is free. The other hand, still shackled by the Calatonians, is literally tied behind his back, earning the mindless beast bragging rights for all eternity.When the Justice League works together to hit Doomsday with everything they’ve got in one last-ditch attempt to stop the monster in his tracks, all they succeed in doing is freeing the other hand. Oops.
10. He Got His Name from Booster Gold
Much like Abomination in The Incredible Hulk, the version of Doomsday depicted in Batman V Superman is named by suggestion, a narrative device that has become fairly common in contemporary superhero movies. In the film, the name Doomsday is indirectly applied to the monster by Lex Luthor, shortly after his creation: “An ancient Kryptonian deformity. Blood of my blood, born to destroy you… your Doomsday.”
In the comics, the being who was formerly known as the Ultimate receives his name in a similar fashion, but not from Lex. During Doomsday’s devastating first battle against the Justice League, when Superman flies in to help out, time-travelling hotshot Booster Gold tells the Man of Steel that, “Trouble isn’t the word, Superman! I’m telling you right now — it’s like DOOMSDAY is here!” Though Doomsday obviously isn’t one to sign checks or give autographs, the name has stuck ever since.
9. Doomsday is Superman’s Bogeyman
Much like the Joker is the one villain who gives Batman sleepless nights, Doomsday is the bad guy who most haunts Superman’s darkest thoughts. Even though Lex has gotten into Superman’s head in the past, and Darkseid’s machinations have brought Earth to the brink of extinction, Doomsday is the force of nature that Superman bled into the ground for, desperately trying to stop him, truly believing he might not be capable of preventing the creature from ripping apart the world he loved… only to then face death at his monstrous hands.
This fear was especially emphasized in the Injustice storyline, which depicts a dark alternate reality wherein Superman loses his mind and becomes a totalitarian dictator. This turn of events is caused by the Scarecrow’s fear gas, known for making people hallucinate their worst fears; sure enough, when Superman is doused with Kryptonite-laced fear gas, he comes face-to-face with Doomsday, and quickly flies the monster up into space. It is only after bringing Doomsday out of Earth’s atmosphere that the fear gas wears off, and he discovers to his horror that “Doomsday” is actually Lois Lane, pregnant with his unborn son, and the Joker has set the trigger for a nuclear bomb to her heartbeat… which then goes off, destroying Metropolis.
8. He Eventually Got Smarter… and Superman Beat Him More Easily Because of it
It’d be unfair to characterize Doomsday as “dumb,” but his mindlessness and inhumanity are pretty key to his character, and a major part of what makes him such a terrifying force of nature. Unlike rational beings, which can be reasoned with, have their soft spots and loved ones, or can at least comprehend the existence of others, Doomsday is fueled only by a sheer hatred of life, and a genetically-coded drive to destroy anything that gets in his way, thanks to the terrible repeated deaths forced upon him by his creator.
However, Doomsday’s basic nature is transformed when he is revived by Lex Luthor, who then has the Joker drop him down in Washington DC. By this time, Doomsday has changed, having gained more human intelligence, tactical planning abilities, and emotion. This occurs on the anniversary of Superman’s death, but when Superman races in to stop the monster, the battle goes very differently than previous ones.
Though the thought of a more-intelligent Doomsday would seem horrifying, it actually results in a weakened Doomsday. Whereas the mindless creature from before was unable to think logically, it also couldn’t feel pain… and thus also couldn’t experience fear, worry, and self-doubt, the terrible consequences of intelligence that all sentient beings must face. The Last Son of Krypton turns Doomsday’s new, all-too-human emotions against him, and blows Doomsday away.
7. He Was Once Merged with Marvel’s Dr. Doom
Superman meets Spider-Man. Carnage meets the Joker. The Avengers meet the Justice League. Everyone loves those super-rare occasions where the Marvel and DC universes cross over, and back in 1996, the two companies decided to turn it up a notch by creating a brief publishing imprint called Amalgam Comics, wherein both universes (and all of the characters within them) merged into one. This resulted in the creation of fan-favorite characters like Dark Claw, a merging of Batman and Wolverine, as well as odd ones like Lobo and Howard the Duck becoming, um, “Lobo the Duck.” Usually, characters were merged together based on common trains.
During the Amalgam run, the most frequently recurring supervillain ended up being Dr. Doomsday, an amalgamation of Doomsday and Dr. Doom, two wildly different characters without much in common other than having the word “Doom” in their names. In the Amalgam universe, Victor von Doom is introduced as the chief scientist of Project Cadmus, who is studying the remains of the alien Doomsday, when one of the monster’s bony protrusions explodes in von Doom’s face. This accident not only leaves von Doom with a similarly rocky appearance, but also Doomsday’s powers, including the ability to recover from death stronger than before. As the big bad of Amalgam Comics, Dr. Doomsday attempts to conquer both the Marvel and DC universes.
6. In the New 52, General Zod Put Him in the Phantom Zone
Much like Crisis on Infinite Earths, the DC reboot commonly referred to as the New 52 made a lot of changes to DC canon, and among them was a new telling of Doomsday’s origins. This different take on the character, while keeping Doomsday’s link to Krypton, tied him in more closely with another major Superman villain.
General Zod, who is usually only connected to the Phantom Zone because of the fact that he got stuck in it for so many years, is presented in the New 52 reboot as having put Doomsday there as well. During the years in which Zod is a Colonel, many years before Kal-El is born, Doomsday comes back to Krypton and slaughters thousands of Kryptonians, eventually facing off against Zod himself. Though Zod admits to admiring the creature due to its capacity for violence, he nonetheless traps Doomsday in the same bizarre prison that he will one day become trapped in himself.
5. Superman Inhaled His Ashes… and Became Doomsday
Also in the New 52 universe, Doomsday’s blood becomes infected with a virus that kills anything within a hundred yards of him, so Superman attempts to defeat Doomsday by flying him to Venus and burning his body in the planet’s extreme temperatures. This proves unsuccessful, as Doomsday returns to Earth, landing right in Smallville, taking the battle to an even more personal level. Superman cuts Doomsday in half, disintegrates him into ashes, and then inhales those ashes so that the death virus will not spread, and Doomsday will be contained inside his body.
Superman soon begins exhibiting more aggressive personality traits. Later still, he starts sprouting bony protrusions, and his skin becomes increasingly grey and rock-like. This makes it evident that Superman has been infected with Doomsday’s virus, and though he tries flying into an asteroid belt and smashing up asteroids to burn up his anger, Doomsday’s virus inside him starts gaining more and more control. Eventually Superman is able to rid himself of the virus, but not before using his additional power to pummel Brainiac’s ship.
4. His Origin Always Gets Changed in Adaptations
Doomsday has a fairly depressing, dark origin, but it’s an interesting one, and fairly unique. That said, while his popularity has led to many media adaptations over the years, the one thing that each of these adaptations has in common is that they eschew the character’s comic book origin. No Bertron, no years of abuse on ancient Krypton. But, some elements of his origins remain in each version.
The Batman v Superman origin was referenced above. When Smallville made the unexpected move of introducing Doomsday in its eighth season, it took much of its influence from tragic antiheroes/villains like the Hulk and the Wolf-Man, depicting its Doomsday as a figure that alternated between a monstrous form and a human one named David Bloome, though the monster’s Kryptonian roots were honored. The Justice League animated series depicted Doomsday as a Superman clone created by Project Cadmus, brainwashed to hate Superman, and then shot out in a rocket when he became too powerful.
3. Doomsday was Created to Give Superman a More Physical Enemy
From a writing perspective, it’s hard to come up with new Superman villains. When you have a hero so powerful, the obvious choice is to create a villain that can undermine him or outsmart him in some way — a more cerebral threat — which is what defines his relationship with such baddies as Lex and Brainiac. Alternatively, there are villains that specifically target his weaknesses, like the Kryptonite-powered Metallo or the magic-based Mr. Mxyzptlk. Then there are weird villains like Toyman, who has always seemed more like a Batman villain in the wrong city.
But back in 1991, DC writers felt that Superman needed a new sort of villain. They wanted him to face off against a bad guy who could physically overcome him with sheer force, much like how Bane would overwhelm Batman a few years later. Later on, when they decided that they were going to have Superman die at the hands of this new monstrous enemy, editor Mike Carlin penned the phrase “doomsday for Superman,” and the rest is history.
2. Superman Sacrificed Himself to the God of Television
Remember that TV show Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman? The one starring Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain, which put a very central focus on the relationship between, well, Lois and Clark? In addition to being the first Post-Crisis media adaptation of the Superman mythos, this series also had a huge impact on the comics: it unintentionally caused the legendary Death of Superman story, and thus introduced the world to Doomsday.
As the series was in production, the comic book writers had already had Clark propose to Lois, and the plans were set for wedding bells. However, when Lois & Clark entered development, with its focus on the romance, the producers of the series wanted the comic book to hold off a little bit before letting the two characters tie the knot, hoping that they could have the wedding episode of the series coincide with whenever the characters got married in the comics. With the wedding plans now held off for a few years, and a year’s worth of story plans no longer applicable, the Superman writing team was stuck for ideas, unsure of how to fill the time until they could write the Super-Marriage.
Then, in the midst of fevered discussions, writer Jerry Ordway joked that the only solution was to just kill Superman off. This joke kept coming back, until finally the writers decided to give it a shot, a dare that resulted in one of the most iconic Superman stories ever written.
1. He Almost Got Into a Movie All the Way Back in 1998
Doomsday has graced TV screens a handful of times, both in animation and live-action. On the big screen, a loose interpretation of the Death of Superman story was adapted in the last half hour of Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, but with no Doomsday attached. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice marks the first time that Doomsday has smashed his way into theaters all across the world, and it’s only fitting that in his cinematic debut, he retains his honorary title as the monster that killed Superman.
But if things had been just a little bit different, Doomsday would have made his cinematic debut almost two decades ago, back in 1998… only a year after Batman & Robin disappointed legions of moviegoers.
Tim Burton’s Superman Lives project is one of the most infamous cancelled movies of all time. Originally poised to reignite the Superman franchise, the movie would have been a bizarre take on the Death of Superman storyline, starring Nicolas Cage as the Man of Steel. Between Kevin Smith’s production stories, the leaked concept art, and odd story suggestions by producer Jon Peters, it’s a movie that will never cease to fascinate comic fans. It’s hard to say how Smith’s treatment would have translated to the big screen, but we do know that if it had premiered back when it was supposed to, it would have featured a version of Doomsday created by Brainiac. It’s hard to imagine how they would have brought Doomsday to life back then — animatronics, a costume, early CGI? — but if we ever want to find out, we’re going to have to figure out how to travel to the parallel reality in which this film saw the light of day.
What did you think of Doomsday’s appearance in Batman v Superman? Did he live up to his name? Sound off in the comments.