Twelve Days of X-Mas, Day 3: ‘DOCTOR DOOM’

This feature previously appeared at MCU Exchange in December of 2017.

Welcome to another installment of what I hope is an enjoyable, extended look at a series of films that I’d like to see used as a way to bring the X-Men and Fantastic Four universes into the MCU. I’ve spent a troubling amount of time in my own mind thinking about this and figured that if I was going to spend that much time, I might as well write it up and feel accomplished! In doing so, I know that I’ll push some buttons with some readers, so let’s be clear about a few things: these are only MY ideas and do not, in any way, represent insight into what we should expect; of all the films I end up writing about, there’s a very small chance ANY of them get made; you’re free to write your own fan-fiction about films you want to see.

With so much time between now and when we will first see the X-Men enter the MCU, there’s a lot of time for things to change (including my own mind); however, this “blueprint” is my current idea and one that I’ve attempted to base both in the kind of decisions Marvel Studios has made to date and on the types of changes we’ve seen recently. Unfortunately, in writing these I’ve discovered I am NOT cut out to do screenplays, so some of these  stray from convention in a few ways.

In the first installment, I took at look at how The Starjammers could potentially kick off Marvel Studios’ inclusion of the X-Men characters into the MCU. Then I took a shot at introducing Charles Xavier to the world and explaining just why he needed the X-Men in the first place. Now it’s time to introduce my absolute favorite Marvel Comics character of all time: Victor Von Doom. This film would represent a major departure from the norm for Marvel Studios because the main character is one of their greatest villains; however, he’s also one of their most well-developed characters and deserves his own film, especially given the role I have imagined for him. After a brief discussion this morning, we are envisioning this as the MCU’s There Will Be Blood!

The film opens in Doomstadt on June 23, 2020: Midsummer’s Eve. Following some beautiful establishing shots of Castle Doom, Victor von Doom summons a dimensional gateway. Upon stepping through the portal, Victor finds himself in what appears to be Hell. This is not Muspelheim. This is not the Dark Dimension. This is a place unlike any other and, as we find out, one that is whatever its host wills it to be. As Victor makes his way through the visually striking dimension, he is greeted by two beings: the film’s villain and the driving force behind ever decision Victor has made his entire life. The demon Mephisto tortures a woman as he welcomes Victor to his realm. Victor gives his Inigio Montoya speech, revealing to us the woman is his mother, and then the two engage in a battle of extra-dimensional energies in the vein of Doctor Strange. Cut to title.

The film proper opens in Latveria in 1984. It’s an appropriate time not only to fit the current MCU timeline, but also to properly root Victor in the Romani culture from the comics. The 1980s were not kind to the Romani people of Eastern Europe. They lived in ghettos, were persecuted (one Eastern European leader of the time said there were some Romani you “just had to shoot.”) and even sterilized, so our fictional country of Latveria won’t differ much from what was actually happening during that time.

It’s in a Latverian Romani ghetto, just outside the capital city of Hassenstadt, that we first meet the von Dooms: Victor, his father, Werner, and his mother, Cynthia. From their ghetto, the von Dooms look up to Castle Hassenstadt, ancestral home to the ruling family of Latveria, the Fortunovs. The castle is now inhabited by a young, ruthless warlord, Valdimir Fortunov, the third member of his family to rule the country since being given control of it during the Red Skull’s march on Europe in World War II. During Vladimir’s 4-year reign, the Romani have been villainized and identified by the government as dangerous criminals. It’s not uncommon to see mass executions of the Romani and, as we move back to Victor and his family, we find that the people of their tribe, the Zefiro, led by an elder named Boris, are planning their exodus from the country. The von Doom’s small home holds a wealth of treasure for young Victor. While is father is a doctor and man of science, his mother is well-known among the Romani people as a practitioner of the mystic arts and their home is full of texts and artifacts, many of which the 4-year old Victor is shown reading and studying.

As plans develop, a group of Zefiro are caught outside of their ghetto and brought before Vladimir. As punishment for their “crime”, Vladimir takes them back to their part of town and has them executed in front of the remaining Romani. Victor’s mother Cynthia is outraged and begins to summon a spell but is stopped by Werner. As Vladimir walks away, Cynthia sets her heart on revenge and sets in motion the series of events that will lead Victor to becoming the man we met in the opening.

Back to Hell. Mephisto and Victor battle fiercely and Victor’s assault is seen to weaken Mephisto who makes not of his surprise at how strong Victor has grown. At this point, Mephisto summons Kagrok, a brimstone beast, to attack Victor, turning the tide. As Victor battles Kagrok, we close in on Mephisto grinning.

The camera pulls away from Mephisto and we see him looking face to face with a very alive Cynthia von Doom. It seems Cynthia’s interest in sorcery has allowed her to tap into the dark arts and she has summoned Mephisto in order to have her revenge. Ever the deal maker, Mephisto agrees to empower Cynthia’s revenge against the soldiers who killed her people in exchange for the only thing he ever wants: a soul. Believing that making this deal will save her son from an early death, Cynthia gladly pays the cost of her soul, due to Mephisto at the time of her death. Cynthia’s retribution is swift and brutal. As she makes her way through the village where the soldiers who killed her people live, she casts the spell given to her by Mephisto. As screams come from every house in the village, Cynthia sees Mephisto’s evil at work as he collects the not only the souls of the soldiers as they leave their bodies but the souls of their wives and children as well. Stricken by the fact that she has just committed the same atrocity for which she had sought vengeance. As the scene ends, Cynthia ends the spell and is shot by Vladimir. A wide smile covers Mephisto’s face as he collects her soul and returns to Hell.

Word of Cynthia’s death at the hands of Vladimir reaches the Zefiro quickly and expedites their exodus. Initially they consider leaving Victor and Werner behind, they decide to move on together. Victor and his father collect their and Cynthia’s things into a chest and begin their move from Hassenstadt. It’s winter and their journey is harsh. Several of the Zefiro die and Werner falls ill. Victor watches as Boris and the others try to save him, but to no avail. Victor watches his father die and be buried unceremoniously in the woods. As they leave the country, Victor, clutches the chest, his only possessions, and takes one last look at Latveria and Castle Hassenstadt, determined to return to it under very different circumstances.

When next we see Victor he has aged 10 years. Communism has lost its grip in most of Eastern Europe. Economic reforms had swept most of Europe, leaving the small nation of Latveria as one of the only holdouts. Victor had taken advantage of the open markets to in the neighboring countries to sell some inventions and has grown into central figure among the Zefiro. Several scenes will show Victor mastering not only science and technology, but also the mystic arts. Key among them will be a scene in which Victor is followed back to the Zefiro camp by a group of men who mean his people harm. Victor quickly turns to the use of magic against them, sending them running. As they run, Victor uses a spell to bring one of the men to him before strangling him; at this moment Victor realizes that his actions could bring retribution to his people and uses what money he has to get to America. We see Victor arrive in Manhattan in the fall of 1994.

Back in Hell, Victor has defeated Kagrok and sets his sights on Mephisto once more. He is distracted by the screams of his mother as he sees her torn into shreds by the hands of countless minor demons only to be reconstituted and torn apart again. Victor summons a massive energy surge and strikes Mephisto who is driven back by the blast.

It’s now 1996 and the 16-year old Victor is wearing a welding mask as he works on an android. We meet Professor Gregson Gilbert and learn that Victor’s genius has earned him a scholarship at State University in upstate New York. Victor’s arrival has breathed new life into Gilbert who has been working on robots and android technology for years before hitting a stopping point. Victor works late into the night, using his access to the lab to work on several side projects as well as Gilbert’s android, “Dragon Man.” Over the years, Victor’s continued work with the mystic arts and communing with other spirits have led him to believe that his mother’s soul belongs to an inter-dimensional being known as Mephisto. Victor believes that by blending magic and technology, he can open a doorway to Mephisto’s dimension and reclaim his mother’s soul from eternal torture and he begins to design the machine. Word of Victor’s genius spreads and he is approached by Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D., alongside an unnamed man (Nathaniel Richards) who asks for his help in examining an interesting piece of alien technology: a Kree Sentry. The Sentry has been on Earth for some time and given the events that took place around it (seen in Captain Marvel), Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. are interested in cracking it secrets. Victor agrees to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. on the project as a way to gain access to more materials and is paid handsomely for his work. It is here that Victor first comes across the Tesseract and begins work on his original Time Platform. NOTE This sort of behavior is not spreading Victor too think, in my opinion. This is, perhaps, the type of behavior exhibited by many genius-level intellects over the course of time: being capable of holding several complex problems in their mind consecutively, working to solve one mentally while physically constructing another.

Of course this time at State University will also introduce two of the most important characters in Victor’s upcoming life: Reed Richards and Ben Grimm. Though Reed and Victor are not working together on any projects, the school is abuzz at having two super genius intellects on campus. Reed and Ben stop into Victor’s robotics lab one day to introduce themselves to the other resident star. Though hard at work, Victor recognizes the two and they share a brief interchange. As Victor continues work on Dragon Man, Reed grabs a notebook believing he’s looking at plans for the android. Reed quickly understands the schematics he’s seeing aren’t for an android at all and include symbols and a language he’s never seen before. Stunned at his inability to understand a machine, Reed asks Victor to explain; Victor scoffs at Reed’s ignorance and dismisses the two from his lab; Reed warns Victor that while he can’t understand the language, he also can’t agree to the calculations for how it channels energy. Of course Victor ignores Reed and finally completes his machine. (Does Ben mess with the machine now?) The machine uses energy to open a portal to Hell, where Victor is greeted by Mephisto. As the two speak, the machine begins to draw too much energy and surges. Victor hears his mother’s voice, warning him to never come back, and as he reaches to her, Mephisto grabs his throat and stares into his eyes, terrifying Victor. At that moment, the machine explodes, closing the portal and disfiguring Victor. As he recovers from his wounds, Victor is asked to leave State University for his actions. Reed and Ben visit Victor in the hospital and he accuses them of tampering with his machine, an accusation Reed denies as Ben stands mute. As the two leave it’s clear where they stand with Victor. As the second act of the film comes to a close, Victor leaves America with the knowledge that his mother remains in Hell and that the man who killed her has survived the fall of the Iron Curtain and remains in power in Latveria (hospital TVs are handy).

The final act of the film will take us catch us right back up to where the film begin and will reveal how Victor came to power in Latveria. Victor uses a portion of the money he made and invested while working for S.H.I.E.L.D. to purchase an abandoned castle in Sokovia: a small country near Latveria. Here Victor refined his original Time Platform, eventually perfecting it and using it to catch a glimpse of a being from the 31st Century who is identified as Immortus. Victor also continues his pursuits in the mystic arts, though after his harrowing experience with Mephisto, he has begun to dabble more and more in the dark arts. As his knowledge grows, Victor is still unable to achieve his ultimate goal, the release of his mother’s soul, and begins acquiring and studying ancient texts in order to gain more knowledge. In these texts he comes across stories of Kamar-Taj and the Ancient One and, eventually, the Aged Genghis, a legendary being thought to have been gifted with his power by the Vishaniti themselves. Despite most writing him off to legend, Victor believes he is alive and can be located and heads to the Himalays.

In a journey that mirrors the one he made in his youth, Victor treks the Himalays to the point of exhaustion. Calling upon the dark arts to sustain his energy, Victor eventually finds the cave of the Aged Genghis. An order of monks, similar to those in Kamar-Taj. Victor spends years with the monks, mastering all aspects of the mystic arts, but still haunted by his inability to save his mother’s soul. Over the years he is there, Victor feels both a strong repulsion to yet an urge to enter an underground cavern located within the monks’ cave. In a very Cambell-esque moment, Victor enters a dark cave nearby and leaves a changed man. Victor and the monks quickly begin work on an enchanted suit of armor designed to literally and figuratively build a barrier between him and the world. As Victor leaves the monks, he is still unable to save his mother from Mephisto so he sets his sights on Latveria and Vladimir. As he descends the mountain, Victor places the mask on his face, completing his transformation into Doom!

After briefly returning to his Sokovian castle, Doom leads his newly built army of Doombots to Latveria. Doom’s army quickly pushes through the Latverian defenses and Doom takes note of the impoverished state of his homeland. Doom breaches the castle and after torturing Vladimir, chooses to kill him with his bare hands instead of using any of his considerable powers. Doom uses both his Doombots and his mastery of the mystic arts to destroy Castle Hassenstadt and erect a new castle in the village where is mother was slain. He supplies the population of Latveria with food and supplies, long horded by Fortunov’s men and is shortly hailed as hero by the people. Now the people of Latveria are his. Castle Doom becomes the center of Doomstadt, the new capital city and the people have no needs or fears, only the care of their new ruler, the benevolent Doom!

It is June 21, 2005: Midsummer’s Eve at Castle Doom. Mere days after his takeover of Latveria, Doom, now a master of the dark arts, creates a dimensional portal to Hell where he confronts Mephisto again. Eager to leverage anything he has for his mother’s soul, Doom enters into a pact with Mephisto. Each year, on Midsummer’s Eve, the day in which there is the least amount of darkness on the Earth, Doom is allowed to enter Hell and battle Mephisto. Should he win, his mother’s soul is released; should he lose, the people of his newfound kingdom will suffer. Doom agrees and we quickly montage through 15 years of Doom’s defeat at the hands of Mephisto and the growing distress in Latveria. We end where we last saw Doom and Mephisto in battle and watch as Doom is defeated again and sent back to Castle Doom where he angrily returns to his lab to begin refining the Time Platform.

Post-Credit Scene #1: In Hell, Mephisto is pleased with his victory. As he delights in the tortured screams surrounding him, he turns his eyes to newly opened portal where we see the Silver Surfer race through the Cosmos. We get a sense that this is a soul that Mephisto highly covets and as the scene ends, the Surfer becomes aware that he is being watched.

Post-Credit Scene #2: July 4, 2020. At work in his lab at Castle Doom a defeated Victor works on a Doombot. The face of another Doombot morphs into a screen broadcasting the return of the Fantastic Four. From the broadcast we learn that the four heroes have been missing since early 2008 when they left on what was expected to be a two-year voyage. As the cameras pan in, the four are joined by two small children: 8-year old Franklin and 4-year old Valeria.

Fan Cast: I simply cannot decide, but I’d love to hear who you guys think would make a great Doom! Let me know in the comments.

Man do I hope Marvel Studios makes the choice to give Victor his due! I know this is just poor fan fiction, but Victor is a character unlike any in their stable and I want him fully realized on film. At any rate, we move onward and revisit the cosmos to check in on the Starjammers.

Victor von Doom will return!!!

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