At the conclusion of the San Diego Comic Con panel for FX's Legion, series creator Noah Hawley dropped some unexpected but fantastic news: he's writing a Doctor Doom movie for 20th Century Fox. The Hollywood Reporter reports he's even in the running to possibly direct the film. Hawley is a rising star and hot commodity right now, with two critically acclaimed hits on the FX channel, Fargo, based on the Coen Bros. film, and Legion, his visually spectacular, head-trippy immersion into untold facets of FOX's X-Men universe.
Naturally, Hawley naming dropping Doctor Doom instantly ignites interest in FOX's moribund Fantastic Four franchise. 2015 was the last time the first family of Marvel Comics graced the big screen. Director Josh Trank's Fantastic Four, starring Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jordan, and Tobey Kebbell was a dismal failure critically, at the box office, and creatively. Trank attempted to meld Marvel's science fiction superheroes into the body horror genre, but backstage drama during the production led to the film being taken away from Trank and recut by producer Simon Kinberg. The result was ultimately one of the most poorly received superhero films in recent memory, and a death knell for the cinematic Fantastic Four. But that was then, it seems.
In the current Hollywood marketplace for superhero movies, the trend is beginning to lean towards exploring the characters who would traditionally be the antagonists for superheros and making the villains the lead. For years now, DC Films has been developing a feature film about Shazam's arch enemy Black Adam starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, with Johnson styling the character as an "anti-hero." Sony Pictures, which just struck gold by forging a deal with Marvel Studios to allow Spider-Man to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has set Tom Hardy to star as Spider-Man's enemy Venom, directed by Ruben Fleischer (Gangster Squad). It's therefore not surprising, after two different movie versions of the Fantastic Four (both poorly received) that FOX would turn to their nemesis to find another angle into reinvigorating the franchise.
There can be no discussion of a Doctor Doom movie without first addressing the four blue-clad elephants in the room. So the question is, will the Fantastic Four also appear in a movie centering on Doctor Doom as its protagonist? They would kind of have to, otherwise Doom would have no one to fight or even talk to (though Marvel fans know the Doctor Doom character is no stranger to long soliloquies). Thus far, Doom and the Fantastic Four are the only denizens in their corner of the universe, unless Hawley's film utilizes other Fantastic Four-related characters like the Silver Surfer or Namor the Sub-Mariner, the latter of whom is someone fans are also dying to see on the big screen.
Unlike the mad rush by other studios to launch shared universes, FOX has so far resisted the urge to unify its two major Marvel properties, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men. The X-Men universe is already expansive; besides the core X-Men films that center around James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, FOX launched multiple other X-Men projects like the R-rated Deadpool films, and television projects like The Gifted and Hawley's own Legion, which is getting a second season on FX. Meanwhile, while most of their Marvel peers are now getting to play in each others' sandboxes, the Fantastic Four have been relegated to their own universe closed off from all the other superhero universes. FOX does own the rights to multiple characters ancillary to the Fantastic Four, but they have only exploited the primary four heroes, the Silver Surfer, Galactus, and - of course - Doctor Doom.