No solo Doom marks the inevitability of the Fantastic Four joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
You got to have faith. Despite the evidence to the contrary, a Fantastic Four film could work. What Roger Corman, Tim Story, and Josh Trank failed to do, another filmmaker with a true belief in the source material could finally prove to the world that Marvel’s first family has what it takes to spearhead a billion dollar franchise.
Comic fanatics like myself are not ready to give up on these characters, because we know that they hold as much rich, emotional texture as any member of The Avengers. Their cosmic plight easily rivals the Guardians of the Galaxy, and they have the best villains in the industry.
The simple proof of which is found in 20th Century Fox’s desperate attempt to get Doctor Doom and Silver Surfer solo adventures off the ground. I am always quick to raise an eyebrow whenever comic book publishers or movie studios attempt to transplant an arch-nemesis into their own antihero spinoff (see my Venom trailer breakdown). However, I was intrigued when Noah Hawley was first attached to the prospect of a Doctor Doom film.
Looking at what Hawley has accomplished with Legion, it is hard to decree anything other than excitement at his potential reworking of the granddaddy of Marvel villains. Victor von Doom is basically an evil reversal of Black Panther. Doom is a super smart brainiac who rules over a provincial, but technologically advanced kingdom. Instead of receiving supernatural strength from the goddess Bast, Doom gains advantage on his opponents through mastery of the Satanic arts. Not to mention all the rad Doom-bots and flying saucers he’s got stored behind his Latverian borders. Yeah, I guess I am totally down for a diabolical biopic centered around Marvel’s most treacherous and narcissistic despot.
Not so fast. As we all eagerly await the sputtering release of Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants, the future of 20th Century Fox’s Marvel properties remains in question. Disney and Fox sitting in a tree…will they? Won’t they? Their impending merger has thrown many of their projects into a state of flux.
Hawley is gearing up to shoot his feature directorial debut, Pale Blue Dot, and his faith in a Doctor Doom movie appears to be dwindling. The script is done, and he believes that the studio is on board with his interpretation, but doubt in its formation has crept into the conversation. Speaking to Vulture, Hawley expressed his concern for the nefarious monarch:
“I know there’s also a little uncertainty, given the potential for a Disney merger and the fact that Marvel may regain control of X-Men and Fantastic Four. They may have a plan of their own in a desk drawer…I think the studio would like to make it. I think we’re all just trying to figure out how and when we’re gonna do that.”
Nothing is in stone. There are still a lot of variables in play, and this conglomerate nightmare could never happen. You can bet your bottom dollar that Marvel Studios mastermind Kevin Feige has multiple plans in play depending on how everything shakes out. There is a fringe universe out there where Sony never played ball, and Peter Parker never hooked up with Captain America: Civil War. The Marvel Cinematic Universe had a strategy for that possibility, and they’ve got several revolving around the Fantastic Four and the X-Men.
Forget what creative and financial hell Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox could mean for the industry, just the idea that Hawley has been denied his shepherding of Doctor Doom is disappointing. If anyone could have constructed a compelling plot around the mad scientist, it was the guy who breathed life and sorrowful resonance into Charles Xavier’s chaotic offspring.
If I were a betting man, I’d put money down on the FF returning to the MCU. The merger may or may not go through, but eventually Feige and his minions will wrestle the property back into the House of Ideas. Marvel Comics certainly thinks the reunion is inevitable; the company is relaunching Fantastic Four with a new number one in August.
Obviously, I feel like a schizophrenic when contemplating the possibilities of Doctor Doom and the Fantastic Four. I want mainstream audiences to feel about these characters the way I, and a legion (pun intended) of Marvel zombies, do. They are not the corny failures we’ve seen on screen before.
They are The Incredibles. Brad Bird has already proven their appeal via homage and replication. Focus on love and family plus jealous, demonic dictators and never-ending space invasion. This should be easy, superhero gold.
And yet…the Disney/20th Century Fox beast means one less avenue for creators to play. Ever since news of this possibility hit, us nerds have been warring with ourselves. We dig what the MCU has been doing, and we trust them to right the ship on disasters like Fantastic Four. Yet, we can’t deny the freshness of Deadpool and Logan. Is there a place for them with Mickey? Seems unlikely we’ll get F-Bombs and hand-claw penetration inside the magical kingdom.
I’m certainly tired of this chatter. Pull the trigger already. I’m sure Hawley would have made a helluva Doctor Doom. I’m also sure the MCU will revitalize the Fantastic Four. It’s the question that tortures. The watched pot never boils. I’m ready to dunk my head in, and flay the anticipation away.