The name Stan Lee is one that shall echo through the ages when it comes to telling tales of Western media. The grandaddy of Marvel Comics, Lee is credited with all but saving the company with the revolutionary superheroes he created back in the 1950s, working hand in hand with artist Jack Kirby.
And, as any Marvel fan will know, the 93-year old comic book King has a pretty good sense of humor to boot. As well as his work as Executive Producer on the majority of Marvel projects over the past two decades, his famous cameos are the one Easter Egg everyone looks out for in any new movie, even the Fox/Marvel offerings. Lee doesn't judge. Look how happy he is to be in Deadpool!
As the creator of many of Marvel's best known characters, it's understandable that he has his favorites and his babies. Despite this position though, it's unusual that he gets pissy or overprotective of how they're presented in other media and live action. Unlike Frank Miller, he's a pretty chill guy. But there is an exception to this, as Lee revealed in a new interview with Comic Book Resources.
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Stan Lee Reveals His Least Favorite Live-Action Character
The very first superhero team Lee and Kirby created was the Fantastic Four — the First Family of Marvel and one of the most iconic superhero groups ever created.
But you wouldn't think that to look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Because the rights to the Fantastic Four, and associated characters such as Doctor Doom and the Silver Surfer, are firmly in the hands of 20th Century Fox — sold off along with the X-Men before Marvel realized that there was something in this superhero movie thing.
To say that the Fantastic Four movies have been poorly handled is an understatement, so understated that it's currently 1,000 feet below the crust of the Earth. Fox has produced three Fantastic Four movies over the last 11 years — Fantastic Four in 2005, its sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer in 2007, and the 2015 reboot Fantastic Four, a.k.a. Fant4stic a.k.a. Good God Fox, Please Sell The Rights Back To Marvel Already.
Given how much of a hot mess the original Fantastic Four movies were, and how badly they've aged, it's not a surprise to learn that they are the particular ones Stan Lee has an issue with. But the character in question might not've been your first guess.
Stan Lee Didn't Like Doctor Doom
When CBR asked Stan Lee if there was any particular Marvel movie adaptation that he wasn't pleased with, he responded in typical Lee fashion by heaping praise upon all and sundry. But though he claims that he doesn't dislike any of the adaptations in particular, he did mention that he wasn't too happy with how the Fantastic Four movies handled Doctor Doom — portrayed by Julian McMahon.
Well, if that's the only issue Lee has with Fantastic Four, he's likely happier than most with the movie. But he's also not wrong, nor alone in thinking that. Although perhaps McMahon had more of an influence on Doctor Doom than we imagined, given that Doom is currently kicking about in the Marvel Universe looking... a lot like Julian McMahon.
Victor Von Doom — a.k.a. Doctor Doom — is one of the most intelligent, sophisticated, scheming, complex, formidable and downright evil villains of the Marvel Universe. And, as with all good Stan Lee creations, he has a tragic backstory and moments of humanity that bleed through occasionally — especially when it comes to the tortured soul of Cynthia, his dead witch mother.
McMahon's take on Doctor Doom in the Fantastic Four movies had none of these qualities — though it would be unfair to lay the blame entirely at the actor's feet. He is underplayed, underused, and defeated by a misunderstanding of basic chemistry.
The real Doctor Doom wouldn't even bother wiping his feet on this unintimidating imposter, whose motivation is more about getting revenge for a romantic snub by Sue Storm than solidifying what he believes to be his rightful power base (though, I guess it's Jessica Alba so we can understand that).
But it's surprising that it was this version of Doom that Stan Lee singled out, as the newest take on the villain made McMahon's Doom look like an Academy Award contender. Fan4stic itself was a mess, but the incredibly off the mark portrayal of Doctor Doom was perhaps the worst failing of all.
What Went Wrong?
Despite the incredible acting talents of the main cast — with impressive up-and-comer Toby Kebbell as Victor Von Doom — Fan4stic sits at an atrociously bad 9% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was universally panned and derided, with Rolling Stone's Peter Travers calling the movie "the cinematic equivalent of malware" and "worse than worthless," which is some Roger Ebert level smack talk right there.
Fan4stic's take on Doom was a big part of this, another underused character who spends more time pining after Sue than doing actual villainous stuff. He's the one dumbass who sticks his hand in some mystery goop on another planet and nearly gets them all killed, spending most of the movie assumed dead before returning to be not-all-that menacing in the third act. Also he looked like this.
With Fox hitting a hot home run with this year's Deadpool, and the enduring success of the X-Men franchise, which has been running since 2000, it's puzzling that Fox seems to have no idea how to handle Marvel's First Family. Plans for the proposed Fan4stic sequel seem to have fallen through now (thankfully), but until Marvel files some sort of abuse injunction to rescue the Fantastic Four, we'll just have to hold our breaths on that one.
But at least at the end of the day — McMahon's Doom aside — Fox will always have a fan in Stan Lee, as he followed up his comments on Doctor Doom by saying:
"But other than that, I thought ['Fantastic Four'] was great. And the actors were terrific. I believe they captured the spirit and the intent of all of the characters, and I’m delighted with how they all turned out. None of them have disappointed me. In fact, I think all of these movies have come out better than everybody ever thought they would…Even the early ones were good. Maybe I’m just my own biggest fan…"
Oh Stan Lee, never change.
Who is your least favorite live-action Marvel character, and what did you think of Doctor Doom? Tell us in the comments below!