Make no mistake; by the time [Avengers: Infinity War - Part II](movie:2390833) rolls through theatres in May of 2019, the MCU we know and love will be a very different place.
After twenty one films and a massive universe-spanning event, Marvel studios will be carrying a huge amount of revenue and momentum, but also a creative vacuum of sorts with the conclusion of the multi-phase Infinity Stone storyline. Following the inevitable clash with Thanos, and the ending of many central role contracts, the MCU will need a new sense of direction for a new wave of heroes and stories to follow. To me, a humble fan, this will require a new dramatic linchpin in the form of a multi-franchise villain.
None other is more worthy of this role than Doctor Doom.
The MCU began in the heavy sci-fi of the Iron Man franchise, which was continued in the Incredible Hulk, Captain America and the more fantasy-soaked Thor films. [The Avengers](movie:9040) ended Phase 1, marrying these styles brilliantly to much success both commercially and critically. In Phase 2, a trend towards the cosmic began, with the returning Thor franchise and the newly introduced Guardians of the Galaxy. With future plans for GotG 2, [Thor: Ragnarok](movie:956858), Captain Marvel, the Inhumans, and of course the eventual two-part clash with the mad titan, things will continue to be largely in the cosmic realm for Phase 3 (with films like Antman, Captain America: Civil War, and Black Panther keeping the more grounded sci-fi on the table).
However as Baron Von Strucker spoke so prophetically in the Winter Soldier's post-credits scene: "This is the age of Miracles". With the imminent arrival of the seemingly supernatural Maximoff twins, as well as the reality bending Doctor Strange, the MCU will soon be opening up to the arcane and magical. The resulting new team of heroes post Infinity War will need a new persistent threat that can oppose them on ALL fronts (more on this later).
Victor Von Doom has the ability to fulfill this type of role as a multi-faceted Avengers villain to follow after such titans (no pun intended) as Thanos, Ultron and crowd-favourite Loki. Infinity War will be a tough act to follow and so the threat has to be truly convincing. Here are four main reasons why Doctor Doom is the only answer.
It's no secret that the tech heavy Iron Man brand has been integral to Marvel's massive success. With RDJ's Tony Stark as Marvel Studios' poster boy, the shiny metal franchise has largely stood as the backbone and grounding element for the MCU. I for one don't think that RDJ's eventual departure will be the end of the franchise, whether that gap is filled in by Iron Lad in the form of Ty Sympkins or some other placeholder. Thusly, as long as the MCU rolls onwards, there will be an emphasis on the futuristic technologies that audiences have proven to love. With Ultron's impending arrival, audiences will get a taste of legions of drones and the terrifying revelation that such machines are infinitely replaceable and thus their armies seemingly endless. However Ultron isn't the only one who commands such mechanized forces.
"Stand aside for the glory that is Doom!"
This has always been one of the scarier calling cards of Doctor Doom. His relentless Doombots and other mechanical horrors have plagued the Avengers for over 50 years. His lesser machines such as the Servo-Guard fulfill the need for fodder enemy types (i.e. Chitauri, Ultron drones, etc.) for our heroes to pound on regularly, whereas the diabolically tricky look-a-like Doombots can allow for big plot twists, as well as the longevity of the villain over multiple films. Countless times the Avengers have thought they defeated Doom at last, only to later find out that it was merely another clone-like Doombot and their true foe had escaped. Doctor Doom is too great of a villain to have a single film story arc, and his mastery of machines allows for a varied and exciting on screen presence. Imagine a film opening with a battle between our heroes and a massive horrible death machine (think the Omnidroid from the Incredibles) created by Von Doom as just another day in a world (read: Phase 4) under the metal boot of the Latverian king.
Victor Von Doom's wicked aptitude for evil machinery only scratches the surface of his genius. Often cited as his most dangerous asset, Doom's mind is truly a force to be reckoned with. As a master tactician, manipulator, and political strategist, he is always two steps ahead of our heroes, effortlessly maneuvering himself to positions of advantage. His immense resources as the dictator of Latveria, a world super power, further enable him to fund all of his nefarious pursuits with relative immunity from the greater diplomatic community. Such a cerebral threat has yet to be realized on screen in the MCU, and none is more qualified to challenge the collective minds of the Avengers than Doctor Doom.
So far, the craftiest villain we have seen onscreen is probably Loki; his tricks and opportunist ways have resulted in some great twists and impressive manipulations. However we have yet to see a TRULY unpredictable and cunning villain. Doctor Doom's Machiavellian tactics and immensely greater intellect could make for some smarter and more complex storytelling, something the MCU sorely needs.
Mastery of the Dark Arts
Here's where things get exciting. With Doctor Strange soon to unveil the mystic side of the MCU (horror director Scott Derrickson leading the introduction) there is massive potential for pulling that world to the forefront and expanding it to unseen places. Following Infinity War, Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange will likely be in a leading role to fill the gap that RDJ's departure will inevitably cause. While the Sorcerer Supreme will surely have his hands full with his own gallery of rogues (like Baron Mordo and eventually Dormammu) it doesn't mean his non-solo outings (read: Avengers) have to be devoid of magic. While Marvel properties like Ghost Rider seem too out there for our beloved MCU (not to mention toxic in terms of the box office), there are many supernatural aspects of Marvel comics that are very adaptable as we charge headlong into the mystical.
The Eastern European land of Latveria is shrouded in mystery, and like Doom's past, is brimming with black magic. As a gypsy child, Victor accidentally sold his mother's soul to the demon Mephisto, (who I've been dying to see on screen) her death setting him on a wicked quest for power. This self-righteous path included the ritual sacrifice of his unrequited love Valeria in another unholy bargain for increased knowledge of the dark arts. Doom further enhanced his powers in Tibet, even training under Doctor Strange for a time, as well as the mythical Morgan le Fey. Having amassed a vast array of abilities from energy projection to teleportation to demonic summoning, Doom can be named amongst the most powerful sorcerers in the Marvel canon and is not to be trifled with.
What better a way to introduce this dreadfully gothic corner of the world than through the eyes of our Sorcerer Supreme. Imagine the post-credits scene of [Doctor Strange](movie:559685) 2: Steven Strange meditates on an increasingly dark presence in the astral plane; finally he is able to locate the physical source... Latveria. Cut to his bundled form climbing through the jagged misty peaks of Eastern Europe. Upon reaching the ridge, a dark castle is illuminated in the distance by a crack of lightning. Doom!
Which brings us to:
Scariness + Charisma
As shown above, Doctor Doom possesses all of the traits needed to pose a serious physical threat to basically any post Infinity War Avengers roster imaginable; his aptitude for science, technology, strategy, and magic effectively makes him the most well-rounded antagonistic figure for our increasingly well-rounded group of heroes. However in a post-Thanos, post-Ultron, (even post-Loki) world, there is another necessity to make Marvel's next big baddie go down as truly worthy of standing among the greatest on screen villains: Screen presence.
As Marvel moves into Phase 4, the necessity for a scene stealing villain like Loki will be felt more than ever. As we well know, more physically intimidating villains like Malekith have been dead on arrival despite a creepy set up simply because audiences haven't felt a connection, nor a real sense of fear. Loki's characterization has been hugely successful because audiences love to root for him, and judging from reactions so far, I think that Ultron will raise the bar by scaring the crap out of movie-goers when Avengers 2 hits later this year. Thanos has yet to prove himself, but I'm sure that Brolin will do a fine job (i.e. ruthless) with the Mad Titan's central role. However Loki's charms and Ultron's sinister disregard for life will not be around forever, and even after the big purple space guy has led an epic warpath throughout the universe, this vacuum must be filled.
With such an intriguingly operatic backstory and a setting of extreme conflict and mystery, Victor Von Doom has the potential to both sway AND terrify audiences around the world. With proper casting (Ron Perlman anyone?) Doom could have the charisma, gravitas and aesthetic to chew scenery and inspire terror in both on screen heroes and cinema-goers worldwide. Making Doctor Doom the next overarching villain would allow plenty of opportunity to flesh out what makes him so driven, as well as demonstrate the depths of his insanity. Such a tortured character deserves proper narrative attention to put a seed (however small) of sympathy in the audience's mind. This kind of prolonged character building is essential in distinguishing Doom from another forgettable solo film once-around villain like Whiplash or Malekith. A villain with presence who could logically appear in multiple films and believably go toe-to-toe with multiple heroes in their respective own medium (magic, tech-weaponry, wits) is what Marvel will need to continue to carry their massive momentum in 2019.
What needs to happen.
You may be wondering why I haven't mentioned the Fantastic Four once in this entire article. Honestly, the truth is that I have never cared much for Marvel's first family as a focal point for good storytelling. It is, in my ever so humble opinion, that the most valuable property tied up with those rights is Doctor Doom. The Latverian king has no necessary ties with the Fantastic Four backstory-wise, and honestly I would rather see him and his Doombots fighting against a team of Doctor Strange, The Winter Soldier, Black Panther and War Machine than his traditional nemeses.
If Josh Trank's F4 film flops and Marvel can buy the rights back from Fox, I think their creative talents would best be spent on bringing Victor Von Doom into the MCU in a big way. Once the failed reboot's property cools off some more they could conceivably think about adding the Fantastic Four into the MCU as well (I really wouldn't care). The bottom line is: Marvel will need a big, badass, banger of a villain to follow Infinity War, and one that will suit the rapidly changing and expanding world of the MCU...
That is, at least until World War Hulk!
What do you guys think of my ideas? Sound off in the comments!
If you liked this article, check out some of my other Marvel pieces!