Fantastic Four was released last Friday to glowing reviews. Of course there are outliers (including one of my favorite critics, Devin at Birth.Movies.Death), but overall, it’s getting shellacked. What’s the problem?
Mr. Bricken over at the mother ship posted his latest Postal Apocalypse article, and an interesting point came up: For one reason or another, Fox just can’t get Doom right. For some reason, every movie so far has tried to tie Doom’s origin to the Fantastic Four’s, fabricating a connection and ignoring his own genius and history.
Some commenters weighed in with some ideas of how to improve the movie version of Doom:
Okay, here’s my take on how to do Doom in a movie.
Set it in the 60’s. The FF save New York in the opening scene from something... let’s call it the Atlantean invasion. The president invites Reed and Co. to the White House for an awards ceremony, at which point, he asks them to stay for dinner because the Latverian premier wishes to meet them. Cue the awkward moment when Doom enters the dinner, sits at their table and proceeds to play mind games with the team (hitting on Susan, poking fun at Reed’s inventions and how his are superior, implying to Ben that Reed should be able to cure his rocky appearance and leave his superpowers intact if he’s so brilliant, etc.)
While they’re at the dinner, Doom’s assistant meanwhile steals a prototype of an energy collector from Reed, which he passes off to Doom. Doom installs it into a giant robot which he unleashes on New York. The team comes back together to fight it. Reed figures out that the robot is using his device and something something tachyons... collecting the cosmic energy from their attacks and beaming it to another location. Team defeats the robot and traces the energy back to Doom’s lair, where he’s waiting for them with a time machine which he intends to use to go back in time, save his mother, and take over Latveria earlier, building her up with his advanced technology into the global superpower the world bows to (instead of America.)
Big fight. Doom dons his armor, uses smaller Doombots, and various gadgets to keep the team at bay, but as he’s losing, he decides to try and cipher the cosmic energy he collected for the time machine into his armor. Bad decision. Big boom. The team is thrown forward into time for an X-men team up movie.
Mid credits sequence: Doom wakes up in the present era as well. The cosmic energy has given him powers/magic...
Post credits sequence: The Silver Surfer is knocked from his board by the blast of temporal/cosmic energy. He recovers and says, “Master, I’ve found one.”
A successful FF movie in three acts.
Act 1: Meet the heroes. Everyone knows the story, spend not more than 20 minutes introducing them. Reed builds a portal to the Negative Zone (I like this twist on the origin, helps with world building). Reed, Ben, Johnny, and SUE all go through, get caught in a cosmic disaster, make it back with powers. Everyone is briefly emo in the Baxter Building, until a GIANT MONSTER attacks. Fancy CGI extravaganza to show off the FF’s powers, they save the day, New York loves them.
Meanwhile in Latveria, Doom is watching, puts his scientists to work replicating Reed’s tech. We don’t need a huge origin story here, just find an actor that can sell him and let the evil dictator spread his wings.
Act 2: Everyone loves the FF. Montages of crime fighting. Character development for Ben’s self loathing, Reed/Sue romance, Ben/Johnny friendship here. In Latveria, Doom’s scientists are failing, he is gruesomely murdering them. Back in New York, we’re at a party/fund raiser thing, Doom attacks! Army of Doom bots, explosions, chaos, steals Reed’s tech.
Act 3: More character drama here. Team takes the FANTASTICAR to Latveria. Reed disables the Doom bot army with superior tech, big fight scene. Doom is deposed and imprisoned in the Negative Zone (where he wanted to go all along, sequel!). We all live happily ever after. End scene.
That took less than ten minutes. Come on Fox, just embrace the source material.
Doom should be so easy to do right. Mask, hood, magic, robots, arrogance, DOOM. If they could make V for vendetta with a fully masked protagonist, they can make a permanently masked villain.
Thinking about Doom, the real key is the arrogance and melodrama- he needs to be larger than life without being ridiculous- and comic book movies have already cracked that riddle: Shakespeare. Patrick Stewart was asked why such esteemed actors as he were tapped for science fiction like Star Trek, and he said it’s because they are already used to overacting in silly costumes, while taking it completely seriously (I’m only lightly paraphrasing, that was the meaning behind his quote, but not the exact words, as I read that a long time ago, perhaps before the first X-men movie).
Doom needs the right actor. Singer got McKellan and Stewart for Magneto and Xavier, Marvel got Branagh to direct Thor- it’s already been figured out, just follow suit instead of casting young attractive people- and make sure he doesn’t use an English accent- vaguely eastern european is better, latveria isn’t London.
The best way, imo, to introduce Dr. Doom is to already have him as a world threatening dictator, who has created a calamity, at the very beginning of the film. Make him a European Quadafi (with the affectation of wearing an ornate mask to hide his disfigurement) who is tapping energy for his country directly from the Negative Zone, an action which is creating damaging ripple effects all around the globe. Reed Richards and his team are called in to find out what Doom is doing and stop it, because they have a history with Doom and understand the technology (most likely because he invented it with Reed). The trip to the Negative Zone to shut Doom’s device down is successful, but transforms them due to an error in Reed’s judgement.
Once Doom learns what has happened to the four, he uses his vast resources and scientific genius to create an armored suit that will protect him from all enemies.
I think this approach keeps the essential dynamics between Doom and FF consistent with the comics, while still tying him closely to origin.
And of course, the ever so handsome Cool_Breeze:
Idea re Doom:
Backstory: Reed and Doom are both students at the same university. Doom is an exchange student from Latveria, and a member of its social elite. Reed and Doom are competitors at school, with Doom feeling like he is entitled to be the best, given his status back home. No matter what he does, however, Reed always one ups him (and not on purpose). After graduation, Doom returns home, and works his way up the social ladder, eventually becoming a science minister for Latveria.
In the present, the military is working on a program to put soldiers in space, so they can be deployed anywhere within 90 minutes of the command. Reed is the lead scientist, Grimm as a technician helping build the components and Sue and Johnny Storm as scientists on the team.
The US military learns that Latveria (through it’s space program under the orders of Doom) is developing its own, similar system, and rushes production on Reed’s unfinished designs, trying to beat Latveria to the punch. The initial test fails, killing the astronauts. Reed’s team is blamed, and in order to vindicate their work, steal a completed prototype (that wasn’t rushed by the program) and launch into space, completing the mission of the first attempt.
However, while in space, the team experiences an anomaly, giving them powers. Doom, reeling from losing to Reed once again, takes control of Latveria (due to an “untimely” death of the leader) and decides that the only way his country can flourish is if Reed is eliminated. This way, Latveria will be the best in the world scientifically. Doom creates his suit of armor, and uses the country’s vast resources to build up its military and economy and exert control over weaker surrounding countries.
Reed and the team are studied by the military, who want to recruit them for clandestine work (as operatives, given their unique abilities). The team refuses and strike a deal with the military: Leave them alone and the truth of the rushed program will remain a secret. Once out of the military, the team is contacted by a representative of an anonymous investor who wants to back Reed’s scientific endeavors in the private sector. The team is weary, but accepts, as it is better than being on the street. The team is given a state of the art facility in the Baxter Building.
Since taking power and over the course of a year or two, Doom has made Latveria a world power and is seeking a permanent seat on the UN Security Counsel. The US is the sole veto vote, and pressure is mounting. Doom is believed to be a benevolent leader and the press portrays him as such.
Doom concocts a false flag operation that destroys a small town in a neighboring country, and leaves evidence indicating that one of Reed’s experiements caused the carnage. Doom uses this negative press to come out publicly against the Fantastic Four (as they are called in the scientific community) and rallies his allies to pressure the United States into investigating and apprehending the Fantastic Four for their crimes. The United States’ refusal adds to the pressure imposed by the international community, which sees it as the United States’ attempt to maintain the status quo.
The Fantastic Four begin their own investigation into Doom and Latveria, and learn the truth: The false flag operation was actually an attempt by Doom to use teleportation technology, nullifying the need for keeping soldiers in space. Doom was inspired by reports of “mutants” jumping from place to place in an instant. The attempt failed, and the resulting temporary tear in space-time engulfed the entire town.
The Fantastic Four learn that Doom is going to attempt a second teleportation, but in a major US city. Doom’s plan is to teleport extremist forces into the heart of the United States. if it works, his technology will be proven and extremists will destroy a large city. If it fails, he can pin the blame on the Fantastic Four and the United States will be forced to listen to him and follow his orders.
The Fantastic Four travel to Latveria to destroy Doom’s teleportation technology, and a fight ensues. The Fantastic Four succeed, and confront Doom. Doom explains his hatred for Reed, and after a fight, appears to be killed. However, in the ensuing chaos, Doom was able to successfully teleport himself to a safer location. It is revealed that Doom had perfected a teleportation device that could teleport one person at a time. When he comes to, he starts levitating. Magneto asks him if he wants to really change the world.
The Fantastic Four return to New York as vindicated heroes, and continue their work. Reed recieves a call, and a driver picks him up to take him to a meeting. The meeting is held at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, and it is revealed that Professor Xavier is the anonymous investor that has bankrolled the Fantastic Four. Professor Xavier tells Reed that he admires his work and assures him that he will remain 100% free to pursue whatever science he wants, for the good of all kind.
What do you think?