Marvel’s ‘Infinity War’: Why Doctor Doom Should Appear

Thanos

Thanos | Marvel Comics

Back in the 1990s, Marvel was on the verge of bankruptcy and sold the film rights to many of its most famous characters. Over the years, the company has gradually regained rights to most of its signature heroes and even struck a deal with Sony to incorporate Spider-Man into its Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). However, the most egregious absences from the MCU remain two of the company’s signature properties: the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. Both have been over at Fox for many years, and while the former team has developed into a long-running franchise that saw its biggest success yet with this year’s Deadpool, the latter has a far more troubled history.

In the mid-2000s, Fox released a couple of hit films centering on the Fantastic Four, though neither has been particularly well-received by fans or critics. Then, of course, there was that disastrous reboot last year that was hailed as one of the weakest films of 2015, essentially squashing hopes for a renewed franchise.

So, with fans everywhere clamoring that Fox should “give [the Fantastic Four] back to Marvel,” it turns out the most valuable reason we hope that comes to pass has nothing to do with the members of Marvel’s First Family themselves but rather their arch-nemesis.

Toby Kebbell in Fantastic Four

Toby Kebbell in Fantastic Four | Fox

Doctor Doom has long been among the most powerful and iconic Marvel villains, but because the character made his debut in the Fantastic Four comics in 1962, his rights — as well as those of other fan-favorite characters like the Silver Surfer and Galactus — are tied up with that titular team. Many have speculated that Marvel wants the Fantastic Four rights back more because of these ancillary characters than Reed Richards and company. This makes perfect sense, especially in the case of Doctor Doom. The character has never been done right on the big-screen, and with Phase Three of the MCU likely closing up the story of Thanos, the franchise will need a new big bad it can build up over the course of the next several “phases.”

Whether or not the Fantastic Four comes along for the ride, introducing Victor von Doom in Avengers: Infinity War could position him as a rising threat. Of course, we’re not saying we want him to emerge fully powered and ready to team up with the Mad Titan to defeat the Avengers. In fact, on the contrary, Doom should be a slow burn that plays out over the course of multiple films, giving audiences the chance to watch a character they’re invested in descend into madness and, ultimately, arise as the greatest foe Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have ever faced.

Doctor Doom in Marvel Comics

Doctor Doom | Marvel Comics

At this point, the future of the MCU remains unclear, but after building up to Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet for more than a dozen films, the franchise will need another marquee villain to take that position as the formidable villain whose defeat can serve as the milestone to end Phase Five or Phase Six of the MCU. None of the villains introduced to date can assume that role, with the exception perhaps of Dormammu. Yet, none is more equipped than Doctor Doom to keep audiences coming back for more time and again. With two failed attempts at bringing the character to life on the big-screen (no disrespect to Julian McMahon and Toby Kebbell), a proper interpretation of the notorious villain is long overdue.

With Avengers: Infinity War, the time has never been so right to bring Doom into the picture. While his appearance could eventually lead into the introduction of the Fantastic Four, his addition alone would help close the gap between the MCU and the other studios who have the film rights to Marvel characters.

According to Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, a deal with Fox may not be in the foreseeable future, but that won’t keep fans from rooting for a miracle. After all, a post-credits scene in Avengers: Infinity War hinting at the existence of Doctor Doom would certainly leave fans talking and salivating until his inevitable reappearance. We can only hope that this comes to pass, and with the thudding failure of the most recent Fantastic Four film, there’s little reason to think that Fox and Marvel Studios can’t at least agree to share the Fantastic Four, if not the X-Men, in the near future. It certainly doesn’t seem like Fox is doing anything with the property anytime soon. So we say let Doom have his due.

Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable

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