Oh. Joy. In case anyone was still wondering, Fox is still developing a Doctor Doom film. This, of course, follows questions that only naturally arose after the recent acquisition of Fox by Disney. The status of many projects in development has been brought into question, really. Then there are new projects to consider, such as the upcoming Kitty Pryde solo movie. Disney has confirmed that the Marvel properties held by Fox will be coming to the MCU as well. So that can only lead to wondering where existing projects go.
Announced at last year’s Comic-Con, the Doctor Doom film is being helmed by Noah Hawley, creator of Legion. And according to him, things are rolling along without a hitch. In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, he’d said:
I haven’t had a phone call, and I’m just operating under the assumption that it’s business as usual. Obviously, the merger, should it go through, will take a year at least. Certainly no one’s reached out to me from Marvel or Fox to say, ‘Well, you know, maybe we should take a beat or maybe we should rush.’ I’m working on the script, and we’ll see what the landscape is when I deliver it. It’s coming. I’m almost done with the last Legion [Season 2] script, and then it’s my first responsibility.
Adapting villains for superhero movies is hard enough as it is. Adapting them for titles of their own is even more difficult. Even in their home medium, titles featuring villainous leads are few and far between. The most recent standout is Harley Quinn. But even that comes with an exceptional caveat. Furthermore, Doctor Doom is almost universally recognized as one of the greatest villains in comics, praised alongside the likes of Magneto, the Joker, and even Darkseid. But one of the things that likely earns him that status as comic book royalty is the interplay between him and other established members of the Marvel Universe. Obviously, he’s the direct nemesis of the Fantastic Four. But he’s also a considerable problem for the likes of Spider-Man, The Avengers, and more. His ambition spans worlds, and the entire Marvel Universe knows and is wary of it.
An entire film centering around that kind of character is a tempting idea, for sure. It can be done, but you’d need a character charismatic enough for it to work. Doom does qualify. But it’s also fairly easy to mess up, as Fox has shown us twice, now. First he became a victim of the overly campy nature of the 2005 film, being portrayed by Julian McMahon. The issue is that Doom is supposed to be imposing and regal, not sniveling and petty. Then, in the 2015 film’s attempt at doing the exact opposite, they drained all of the interesting, albeit far-fetched, elements out of his character in order to make things more “grounded in reality.” And this, of course, also didn’t work. Because Doom is all about being larger than life.
As far as can be told, this is going to be Fox’s last pass at doing the character justice. If they can’t, then maybe Marvel will take a shot at it. However, if this movie fails, then it may be quite some time before fans are ready to take another trip to Latveria. And Marvel may yet shy away from doing anything with one of their most iconic characters for quite some time.