Why a Fantastic 4 reboot should be Triumph & Torment
The Doctor Strange/Doctor Doom team-up is critical to the supervillain’s greatness
Victor von Doom is arguably the greatest Marvel Comics supervillain, yet you wouldn’t think that from his terrible appearances in all of the Fantastic Four movies. Time and again, his sympathetic origin is gutted to give him the same one as the Fantastic Four, and none of his complicated and nuanced villainy is translated to the big screen either.
This is a simple plea to Marvel Studios that the next Fantastic Four film reboot holds off on introducing him so they may give him a film where his own backstory can be the focus. Let the Fantastic Four fight the Mole Man, Wizard or Puppet Master in their return to the big screen, while establishing Doctor Doom as being busy ruling his home country Latveria.
A loose or faithful adaptation of the 1989 graphic novel Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment could be a beautiful portrayal of Doom as tragic hero. The comic essentially provides a beginning, a middle and an end to Doom’s character arc, telling the story of how with Doctor Strange’s help, Doom finally frees his mother’s soul from a deal she made with the demonic Mephisto as a young sorceress. It would provide a director the opportunity to incorporate flashbacks that explore Doom’s upbringing, his fallout with Reed Richards, his rise to power and what drove him.
For the uninitiated, Doom is a Roma from the Eastern Bloc nation of Latveria, which was ruled by a baron who despised the Romani. Seeking retribution, Doom’s mother Cynthia made a deal with the devil to gain the power to wreak revenge on their persecutors. But there was a price: the magic spells Cynthia learned also caused the deaths of innocent Latverian children, and unable to live with what she did, she allowed herself to be swallowed into Hell.
Doom eventually got a scholarship to study in America, where he met Reed Richards. While there, he built a device to build to commune with his dead mother, but opening the portal to Hell naturally blew up in his face: the traumatic incident caused him to be expelled, beginning his mental decline, as he became convinced Reed sabotaged his machine.
The film can work as a sequel or spin-off, with Reed Richards presumably taking on Stephen Strange’s role to a certain degree if the film were written as a Fantastic Four sequel. Given Fox’s apparent interest in introducing Valeria (Reed and Sue’s daughter), this would be a good demonstration of Doom’s capability to work with Reed, despite despising him, when necessary. They can then adapt the story of Valeria’s birth from the comics, where Doom assisted in the delivery after Sue had complications with her pregnancy, thereby explaining why Doom would feel indebted enough to help.
Marvel Studios is often criticised, sometimes justifiably, for focusing on their heroes at the expense of building great screen villains. With the Fox-Disney deal, they have the chance finally show what a rich, fascinating villain Doom is on the big screen. They just need the right narrative that provide opportunities to elaborate on his great back-story, and an adaptation of Triumph and Torment with the Fantastic Four instead of or with Strange is that chance. I for one, cannot wait to see what Marvel do with the F4 and Doom.