We know that a Fantastic Four reboot is on the way from Marvel Studios, and while comic fans everywhere are clamoring for Marvel’s First Family to make their MCU debut, just as anticipated is their primary nemesis: Doctor Doom. The sovereign monarch of Latveria and a master of both science and mysticism, Doom has been one of the Marvel Universe’s most dangerous and prolific villains since his debut in 1962, and we’re all eager to see him show up in the MCU.
However, while he will likely play a part in the upcoming F4 film, Doom is far more than just a Fantastic Four villain. He’s encountered just about every other hero and villain in the Marvel Universe at some point or another, and has been a star player in numerous stories over the six decades since his first appearance.
Fantastic Four was announced at Comic-Con 2022 as the start of Marvel’s Phase 6 with a release date of November 8, 2024. And while Doom very well might make his debut there as the villain of the film, let’s look at some other ways how the MCU could use Doctor Doom…
Doctor Doom: An Origin Story
For the uninitiated, here’s an overview of Doom’s backstory: Victor von Doom was the son of Werner and Cynthia von Doom, a Latverian doctor and a Romani witch respectively. When Victor was very young, Cynthia sold her soul to the demon Mephisto in exchange for the power to free her people from persecution, only to be damned for eternity when she couldn’t control the magical powers she gained. Werner would also die while Victor was a child after failing to save the terminally ill wife of Baron Vladimir Fortunov. From that moment on, the young Victor swore revenge not just on the Baron, but all of humanity. The only other person Victor loved besides his parents was Valeria, a girl of similar age from the same traveling Romani clan as his mother, but Victor forswore Valeria after both his parents were killed.
Growing up to become an engineering prodigy and skilled inventor, Victor accepted a scholarship to State University in New York. It was here where he would first meet Reed Richards, the man who would eventually become his rival, Mister Fantastic. Victor would be expelled from school when the machine he built to contact his mother’s soul exploded on activation, permanently scarring his face. But what made matters worse is that Reed had peeked at Victor’s calculations and warned him he made a mistake, while Victor was adamant he hadn’t. In his arrogance, Victor blamed Reed for the accident, and after spending some time with a group of Tibetan monks, Victor built a suit of armor not just to give him power, but also to hide the scarred face he was determined to never let anyone see again. Naming himself Doctor Doom, he would return to his homeland, murder Fortunov, and establish himself as Latveria’s sovereign. From then on, Doom would seek nothing less than world domination and the destruction of Reed Richards, the man who he held responsible for his downfall.
This story was first relayed in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four Annual #2 in 1964, and would receive far more elaboration in the 2006 Books of Doom miniseries from Ed Brubaker and Pablo Raimondi. It could easily be adapted as an origin film or Disney+ series, and further story material could be mined from Doom’s solo run in Astonishing Tales, which detailed the underground Latverian resistance loyal to the monarchy Doom overthrew, as well as the yearly battle Doom has with Mephisto to try to free his mother’s soul.
A Doctor Doom solo film was actually in development back when 20th Century Fox still had the rights, under the purview of Noah Hawley, best known for the Fargo TV show and another Marvel adaptation, Legion. While that version is likely long defunct, Howard Stern may have recently leaked that an MCU project for Doom is in the works, so perhaps Doom’s origin will receive the screen treatment after all.
Super-Villain Team-Up: Doom and Namor
Doom first appeared in Fantastic Four #5, where he battled the Fantastic Four, but he would return in the very next issue with a new ally: Namor the Sub-Mariner, the prince of Atlantis who first debuted in the Timely Comics era as a hero, but was brought into Marvel’s Silver Age in Fantastic Four #4 as one of their earliest antagonists. Doom and Namor would team up in issue #6 to get revenge on the F4, and this issue also featured one of Doom’s all-time greatest schemes: literally launching the F4’s home, the Baxter Building, into orbit. The villainous alliance was sadly short-lived when Doom betrayed Namor by leaving him stranded on the building, but Namor and the F4 would of course survive this encounter to fight another day. Ever since, Doom and Namor have had a volatile relationship, sometimes working together, but just as often turning on one another.
Doom and Namor would have several more encounters in the following years, including multiple run-ins in Namor’s solo book, where Doom would try to coerce Namor into once again allying with him in his bid for world conquest. Their back and forth would even receive its own comic in the 1975 series Super-Villain Team-Up, which launched with two Giant-Size specials before becoming a regular series with Doom and Namor for 13 issues. During this time, the two would have encounters with the undersea barbarian warlord Attuma, the Fantastic Four, the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime, the Avengers, and even the Red Skull, which culminated in a duel between Doom and the Skull that took place on the moon (!). Even with all that, what is most hilarious about the series is that despite the title, Doom and Namor spend more time in it at each other’s throats than actually working together.
While a straight adaptation of the stories from the Super-Villain Team-Up book is unlikely, the core concept of pairing Doom and Namor in a project does hold potential. We’ve already seen double-bill MCU projects in films with Ant-Man & the Wasp, as well as on Disney+ with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, so Doom and Namor could easily receive similar treatment. We also know that Namor and the Atlanteans are set to make their debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, so perhaps the prince of Atlantis will meet the ruler of Latveria sooner rather than later.
Doomwar: Wakanda and Vibranium
Speaking of Black Panther, while Doom’s primary adversaries are the Fantastic Four, he also has rivalries with several other Marvel heroes, with two of the biggest being Iron Man and, you guessed it, the Black Panther. Doom and T’Challa first met in Astonishing Tales #6, when Doom learned of Wakanda’s vibranium and decided he wanted some of the miracle metal for himself. T’Challa, who was living in the United States at the time because he was serving with the Avengers, naturally hurried home to defend his kingdom, and the two battled to a stalemate in the following issue. Ever since, Doom has sworn to get his hands on the precious resource, and he would finally succeed in this goal decades later in the 2010 miniseries Doomwar by Jonathan Maberry and Scot Eaton.
Similar to Captain America: Civil War, it’s easy to imagine a Black Panther 3 that’s less of a solo film but more of an event crossover to round out the trilogy.
In this series, Doom secretly provides backing to the Desturi, a xenophobic political faction that wishes for Wakanda to return to its isolationist roots. After the Desturi oust T’Challa, Shuri (who had the Black Panther mantle at the time) and capture T’Challa’s then-wife Storm, Doom strolls in to steal all the vibranium out of a vault, which requires passing a purity test where Bast, the Panther God, looks into a person’s soul and judges their intentions. Incredibly, Doom passes this test, because Bast learns that Doom’s quest for world domination is not based in greed, but in the genuine belief that his rule is the only way to prevent humanity from destroying itself. With a new arsenal of vibranium weapons and robots, Doom would then wage war against dozens of Marvel’s heroes, and was only thwarted when T’Challa used “shadow physics” to reduce all the vibranium to an inert state.
While the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman and the announcement that his role will not be recast in Wakanda Forever means that some aspects would need to be changed, an adaptation of this storyline with some of the characters’ roles moved around could easily provide the basic template for Black Panther 3. The MCU’s Phase 6 has several blank spots on its roster right now, so a third film set in Wakanda seems like a strong possibility. Similar to Captain America: Civil War, it’s easy to imagine a movie that’s less of a solo film but more of an event crossover to round out the trilogy, with numerous Marvel heroes joining Wakanda’s forces to help repel the master of menace.
Triumph and Torment: Doom, Sorcerer Supreme
Another character that Doom has an interesting relationship with is Doctor Strange. One aspect of Doom that is left out in most adaptations is that he is a skilled sorcerer, able to effectively wield both science and magic. Believe it or not, he was even a candidate to become the Sorcerer Supreme! This event occurred in the 1989 graphic novel Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment, written by Roger Stern and with art by Mike Mignola and Mark Badger. The story involves Aged Genghis, vessel of the Vishanti (think supernatural beings that give the Sorcerer Supreme their power), bringing together several mystics from around the world for a once-a-century contest where the winner is bestowed the official title of Sorcerer Supreme.
While Strange wins the contest, Doom comes in second place, and so Strange is honor-bound to grant Doom one favor. Strange is horrified by this because he knows of Doom’s reputation as a dictator, but Doom asks Strange for help to free his mother’s soul from hell. After traveling to Latveria, Strange is surprised to discover the extent of love the Latverian people have for their monarch. The two sorcerers journey to hell to confront Mephisto, and during the battle Doom enacts a plan where he seemingly betrays Strange. Cynthia’s refusal to go along with Doom’s plan because he’s a “traitor” is what proves her purity of heart and frees her from damnation. It then turns out that Doom had only pretended to betray Strange, and the implication that Doom was willing to have his mother hate him to save her hangs over their final conversation.
Beefing up the narrative to make the pair’s journey into hell a longer quest narrative could easily be the plot of a hypothetical Doctor Strange 3. Given that the mid-credits scene of Multiverse of Madness implies Strange would travel to the Dark Dimension with Clea, perhaps Dormammu could play the part of the demon who owns Cynthia’s soul, and Clea could come along for the ride? However it happens, seeing these two sorcerers working together would be a dream come true for longtime Marvel fans.
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade - Scarlet Witch and Doom as Partners
Strange wouldn’t be the only Marvel mystic that Doom would be paired off with. He also spent some time with the Scarlet Witch in Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, a 2010 miniseries from Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung. The story involved Wanda’s return to the Marvel Universe after her disappearance at the end of House of M five years earlier. An amnesiac Wanda, who claimed not to have magic powers, was discovered by the Young Avengers in Latveria, where she was engaged to be married to none other than Doctor Doom.
The main thrust of Children’s Crusade is Speed and Wiccan not just trying to confirm that they are in fact Wanda’s kids, but trying to prove that she can be redeemed for the devastation she caused during Avengers Disassembled and House of M. During the story Wanda’s memories and powers are restored, and she relates how years ago Doom helped her access the Life Force to generate enough mystic power to resurrect her children, and that she would need to do it again to perform a counterspell to undo the depowering of nearly all mutants in House of M. However, Patriot tries to stop the spell, and this results in Doom gaining the full power of the Life Force, which he only loses after a battle where Wanda and Wiccan work together to remove it. Doom would subsequently take the blame for Disassembled and House of M, repairing Wanda’s reputation at the cost of their relationship.
Given Multiverse of Madness’ ending, a loose adaptation of Children’s Crusade could easily bring Scarlet Witch back into the fold, with the idea of her turning into a multiversal villain replacing her depowering of mutants as what she needs to be redeemed for after she loses her memories and winds up in Latveria. The MCU has also been bringing in most of the Young Avengers, with Tommy/Speed, Billy/Wiccan, Kate Bishop/Hawkeye, Eli Bradley/Patriot and Cassie Lang/Stature having already appeared in the MCU in some capacity. This story features Doom in more of a supporting role, but it would still be a great way to weave him into the MCU canon.
Secret Wars: God Emperor Doom
When it comes to his most well-known event stories, Doctor Doom has played the “ultimate villain” in both versions of the universe-wide crossover Secret Wars. The original version of Secret Wars was published in 1984, and involved an ultra-powerful cosmic being called The Beyonder bringing a group of heroes and villains to Battleworld so he can learn whether good or evil is more powerful. Doom became the de facto leader of the villains, and even managed to steal the Beyonder’s power (it didn’t keep). However, far more likely to be used for the MCU is the 2015 version of Secret Wars.
In this story, an Incursion between the mainline Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe that would have destroyed them both is leveraged by Doctor Doom, Doctor Strange and Molecule Man to steal the power of the Beyonders (yes, there’s more than one) so Doom could build a new Battleworld out of shattered remnants of the destroyed universes. Doom would become God Emperor of this new Battleworld, where most of the Marvel characters would lose their memories and serve new functions. The Invisible Woman was Doom’s wife, Strange was his lieutenant, the various versions of Thor were his personal army, the Human Torch was the sun (!) and the Thing became a giant shield wall around his kingdom. Doom thought he’d managed to erase Reed Richards from this new reality, but Reed had in fact survived the Incursion in a life raft vehicle, and returns for a final battle with Doom where both the multiverse and Doom’s face are restored.
With the confirmation the current MCU phases are telling the Multiverse Saga and Secret Wars is definitely happening, it seems that God Emperor Doom has a good chance of showing up on the big screen.
While Secret Wars is a massive crossover involving most of the popular Marvel characters, the main series from Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribić is far more contemplative than action-packed, with the story serving as a finale of sorts for the Reed Richards and Victor von Doom rivalry. Because of the MCU’s recent interest in the multiverse with Loki, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Incursions were even a plot point in the latter), and now the confirmation at Comic-Con 2022 that the current MCU phases are telling the Multiverse Saga and Secret Wars is definitely happening, it seems that God Emperor Doom has a good chance of showing up on the big screen. Though we hope we don’t have to wait until 2025 to see him!
However the MCU decides to use him, there are a plethora of avenues to choose from when it comes to Doctor Doom. Where would you like to see the character show up first? Let’s discuss in the comments!
Carlos Morales writes novels, articles and Mass Effect essays. You can follow his fixations on Twitter.