Sure, the Joker is great, and Darth Vader is classic, but comic fans know that the greatest supervillain of all time is Doctor Doom, the scarred dictator of Latveria. Doom's prominence in the comics is the exact reason why his low profile in the movies has been so shocking.
Though Doom has been adapted to the big screen on two occasions, in the 2005 Fantastic Four movie and the 2015 reboot, both movies completely missed the point of the character, depicting him in a fashion that had almost nothing to do with the regal, brilliant, egomaniacal antihero that Stan Lee so obviously loved to write.
However, change is in the wings. Now that Disney is acquiring the movie and TV assets of 20th Century Fox, it means that heroes like the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Silver Surfer can finally join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are even rumblings about a live-action Doctor Doom movie currently in the works.
If you're wondering what's so important about Doctor Doom, or why this infamous mad scientist is so deserving of his own movie, it's time to learn 16 Devious Things You Never Knew About Doctor Doom.
What both Fantastic Four movies totally misunderstood about Doctor Doom is that he's not a regular bad guy. Sure, the name Doctor Doom is pretty menacing, but Doom is a surprisingly sympathetic figure. He could easily be the greatest hero of the Marvel Universe if it wasn't for some of his personality flaws.
In the beginning, Victor Von Doom was a young boy from the fictional Eastern European country of Latveria, a nation ruled by an oppressive regime. After the death of his parents, Victor is forced to flee his homeland, where he travels to the United States. As an adult, he masters the arts of both science and mysticism, forges a futuristic metal armor for himself, and then returns home to Latveria in a blaze of glory, retaking his country for the peasants...
...whom he then enslaves beneath his oppressive rule, as the new dictator of Latveria. So yeah, it's complicated. Doom's people both fear and love him. He's brought them technological abundance and safety, but at the cost of their freedom.
If there's one thing that is unarguably Doom's greatest flaw, it's his arrogance. Well, that, and his vanity. He's got an ego the size of a planet, and a massive insecurity problem going on whenever others challenge his greatness. That's a big reason why he's never quite made it as a hero, in the long run. Sure, he might save the world, but he's doing it in order to prove his own greatness.
So he'd take it quite personally if someone accused him of not actually being a doctor... but he's not. Keep in mind, Doom was expelled from Empire State University after his little explosion mishap, so he never got to finish his studies. In other words, the title "Doctor Doom" is entirely self-appointed. Though in all fairness, considering that the guy does create robot armies, super-powered armors, and time machines, we'd say he's more than earned the title by now, in his own autodidactic way.
During Victor Von Doom's early childhood, his mother Cynthia was dragged down to Hell. Yes, actual Hell. Understandably enough, Victor wants to rescue her from there, so when he becomes a student at Empire State University, he builds a machine to contact her in the netherworld. Just one problem: his calculations are slightly off, as his annoying classmate Reed Richards points out to him. Doom doesn't like being corrected, so he brushes Reed off. Unfortunately, Reed is right, and the machine blows up in Doom's face, leaving a puffy little scar.
Just a little scar. But Doom's pride is severely hurt by his failure, so he leaves New York and goes wandering through the mountains of Tibet, where he takes up residence with the aforementioned clan of monks. There, he forges a metal suit. But once again, he's so impatient that he rushes the process, and presses the red hot mask to his face, resulting in the severe scarring that we all know today. So his impatience has caused him problems a few times.
Though Doctor Doom has menaced many of Marvel's heroes, from Captain America to Spider-Man, he certainly has a special animosity for the Fantastic Four. Or really, if we're going to be honest, he's okay with three out of the four: it's just Reed Richards that he despises. Why? Because Richards is smarter than him. That might sound silly, but it really gets under Doom's charred skin.
Despite that, Doom secretly has a lot more affection for the team than he'd like to let on. For one, he actually helped deliver Reed and Sue's second child, a girl. Sure, he did it on the condition that he got to name her, but he nonetheless was named as the child's godfather. He's worked alongside the Fantastic Four on multiple occasions.
Perhaps most significantly, in Secret Wars, he envisions a reality wherein Sue Storm is his wife, with Franklin and Valeria as their children. He definitely has some jealousy issues.
For all his flaws, Doom does sincerely care about the people of Latveria. On one of Doom's nicer days, he took in a young orphan named Kristoff Vernard, whose mother had recently been murdered by one of Doom's political rivals. Doom didn't just give Kristoff a home: he raised him as his own, and even decreed that young Kristoff would be his heir.
Sadly, things went awry when Doom seemingly died, and Doom's robots reprogrammed Kristoff's mind with Doom's memories, causing the boy to believe that he was the real Doctor Doom (albeit trapped in a child's body). When Doom came back, the two were drawn into an immense conflict, as both believed themselves to be the "true" Doom. Though Kristoff had all of Latveria's resources at his disposal, Doom still won out in the end.
All of this psychological tampering caused a rift to form between Doom and his adopted son for many years, but they have since resolved their differences and worked together again.
Sometimes, Victor Von Doom knows better than to get into a losing scuffle, and sometimes, he wants to be in multiple places at once. That's why he employs "Doombots," which are lifelike android replications of himself which think, act, and talk just like the real deal. These Doombots even believe that they are the real Doom, and considering that the guy rarely takes off his armor, they're pretty convincing.
Aside from the fact that a genius master planner like Victor would believably have Doombots, these android duplicates serve a practical story purpose as well: they make retcons a lot easier.
Think of it this way. Anytime a writer has Doom do something stupid, ridiculous, or out of character, the next writer is free to say, "Nope, that was a Doombot," thereby absolving the mighty Doom of many embarrassing incidents. This trick has been used so often that TVTropes even has a page titled "Actually a Doombot" to describe instances of the same trope being used in other media.
The 2015 Secret Wars storyline might've been the biggest Marvel crossover of all time, but at its heart, it was a Doctor Doom story. This is the story that ends with Reed Richards using the godlike power of the Beyonders to restore the multiverse, which at this point has been devastated. In the process, Reed does his greatest enemy a solid: he warps reality in order to heal Doom's face. Yeah, Reed is a really nice guy.
As a result, Victor now has his old good looks back, much to his delight. However, the restoration of Doom's appearance prompts an even more important psychological development within the world's greatest supervillain: though previously he had sought world peace through world domination, he now sees the errors in his old philosophy, and has turned over a new leaf. He also has taken on a new identity...
Since the restoration of his face, Victor Von Doom has been striving to be the hero he always could have been. That doesn't mean he's not still the arrogant, vain glory hound that he always was, but this time, Victor is genuinely trying to atone for his sins, and make the world a better place. However, the name "Doctor Doom" doesn't necessarily sound too heroic.
After Tony Stark falls into a coma, Doom takes on a new, but familiar mantle: Iron Man. Often referred to as the "infamous Iron Man," Victor has started turning his reputation around in a big way, taking on foes like Mephisto, and even earning a lofty spot on the Avengers.
Who knows if Doom will maintain this role— there's a good chance he'll eventually be Doctor Doom again— but he's certainly done a great job proving his worth as an antihero. Though we shouldn't say that too loudly, since it might inflate his already massive ego.
In the dark future landscape of the year 2099, the Marvel Universe has been overtaken by corporate bureaucracies, which run rampant over personal rights and freedoms while conducting countless illegal genetic experiments. In this horrific landscape, new people don the old heroic mantles of ancient figures like Spider-Man and the Hulk. However, the greatest hero of the year 2099 is Doctor Doom— and it's not a new man in the armor, but Victor himself.
See, for mysterious reasons, Victor materializes in the future, having disappeared countless decades ago. Initially horrified by the state of his beloved Latveria, Doom finds himself even more bewildered by the state of the world. Driven to action, Doom decides to save the planet... by conquering it, of course.
What's fascinating about Doom 2099 is that this time, Doom is right. Instead of being the villain, Doom's overthrow of the corporate tyrants is actually cheered on by the population, and they embrace his rule.
Doom has often tried to seize power for himself, whether it's world domination or new mystical abilities. However, his crowning achievement occurs in the Secret Wars storyline, wherein Victor absorbs all of the power of the Beyonders, and reshapes the entire multiverse in his image. That's right, Doom becomes a literal god: "God Emperor Doom," to be precise.
Doom is ruler of this new universe, and compels the population to worship him as their creator, ruler, and source of life. As mentioned before, he then takes Sue Storm as his wife, and Franklin and Valeria as his children. However, Reed Richards and a collection of other superheroes eventually rise to overthrow Doom's power, and restore the multiverse. It's a complex story, but if anyone ever wanted proof of why Doom is Marvel's greatest villain, Secret Wars is the answer.
One of the few happy moments in Victor Von Doom's life was his relationship with his first love, Valeria, the only woman he ever truly loved. Both Victor and Valeria were teenage refugees living in the Romani camps of Latveria, but when Doom had the opportunity to study abroad in the United States, he was forced to leave her behind. Nonetheless, she always remained close to his heart.
Don't feel too sappy, though, because this little love story has a dark ending. Many years later, Doom sacrificed Valeria's life to fulfill a blood pact with demons, who'd offered to give Doom unlimited mystical power in exchange forhim relinquishing something of "irreplaceable value"— the love he and Valeria shared. Even worse, as Valeria burns alive in a burst of hellfire, her flayed skin transforms into a new suit of armor for Doom, so he can "always keep her close."
Honestly, this might've been Doom's most disturbing moment, but in more recent years, he's tried to redeem himself for it.
Here's another thing that the Fantastic Four movies missed out on. Because while Doom is certainly one of the most brilliant scientific minds of the Marvel Universe, he's also a powerful sorcerer, and it's that precise combination which makes him so lethal. Basically, imagine combining Iron Man and Doctor Strange into one body, and that's Doom. Scary, right?
Doom's mystical abilities aren't some minor feature of the character, either: it's a pretty huge facet of his personality. See, Doom's interest in magic originated with his mother, Cynthia, who was a witch. Later on, Doom was trained in the mystical arts by a clan of monks in Tibet, and he went on to master his abilities when he was in a relationship with the sorceress Morgan Le Fay (yes, that Morgan Le Fay). The key to Doom's power is his mastery of both seemingly contradictory sensibilities, as well as his iron will to succeed at anything he tries to do.
These days, everyone gives Deadpool credit for breaking the fourth wall. But in reality, Doctor Doom was breaking that wall to smithereens back in the 1960s.
Comics really don't get much more meta than Fantastic Four #10, plotted by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The story shows both "Stan" and "Jack" working together in the Marvel offices, faces obscured, as the two work feverishly to figure out who will be the villain in their new issue: in other words, the very same issue that you're reading. Just as the two creators lament the fact that they killed off Doctor Doom in his last appearance, the Latverian dictator hears his name, and storms the Marvel offices.
Doom goes on to show the creators his face, and then forces them to call Reed Richards. Because really, who would argue with their own creation, particularly when that creation is Doctor Doom?
For comic fans still bitter about Doctor Doom's mistreatment in the Fantastic Four movies, there's a beacon of light: in 2017, filmmaker Ivan Kander directed a short fan film, Von Doom, which finally brings the true Doctor Doom to life.
Kander's film faithfully adapts the character's comic book origins, portraying Victor as a tortured soul with heroic ambitions, trying to right the wrongs of his past through a combination of science and magic. Arguably, the film makes a clear case for why Doom works better as the protagonist of his own story instead of playing second fiddle to a team of heroes.
Von Doom is short, but it's mesmerizing, gripping, and dives just deep enough into the character's complexity to leave you wanting more. Don't just take our word for it: you can watch Von Doom here on YouTube.
Working alongside artists such as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and John Romita, Stan Lee co-created almost the entire Marvel Universe as we know it. During his time writing for Marvel Comics, Lee worked on hundreds of supervillains, many of whom have now lit up the big screen, such as the Green Goblin and Magneto. However, out of all of his villainous creations, Stan Lee has always firmly stated that his all-time favorite is Doctor Doom.
Actually, Lee takes it a little further than that: he believes that Doctor Doom isn't truly a villain. As he explained back in 2016:
"Everybody has Doctor Doom misunderstood. Everybody thinks he’s a criminal, but all he wants is to rule the world. Now, if you really think about it objectively, you could walk up to a policeman, and you could say, ‘Excuse me, officer, I want to tell you something: I want to rule the world.’ He can’t arrest you; it’s not a crime to want to rule the world."
Hopefully soon, Doom will get the movie he deserves. Though news has been quiet so far, Legion showrunner Noah Hawley has mentioned on a few occasions that he's working on a Doctor Doom solo project. One would imagine that it might in a similar vein to Von Doom, but we'll have to wait and find out. While Hawley was developing the project well before Disney purchased 20th Century Fox, he has confirmed that the project hasn't been canceled, and he's hoping to continue working on it.
If the movie does go forward, though, there's a good chance that it will now be incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so Doom could storm the gates of the MCU in his own movie. Talk about a grand entrance! It's still early days, but we do know one thing: Mads Mikkelsen is interested.
Is there any Doctor Doom trivia that we missed? Let us know in the comments!