So, how do you feel about a lady Dr. Doom?
Reports have been emerging that the new Fantastic Four film is going to take some drastic liberties with the source material. A report that surfaced last month posited that they would be non-explorer characters, one quickly dismissed by director Josh Trank. Other casting rumors have popped up suggesting that the group would be much younger and less-accomplished than earlier incarnations of Marvel’s First Family. But until now, no one has really floated the idea that apparently Fox are considering.
THR claims that the production is seeking a big name to play the villainous Dr. Doom, a character considerably intertwined with the early days of the characters, and played by Julian McMahon in the earlier films. But what seems curious is that they claim Fox "isn’t ruling out switching genders for the role." Which, uh… would be a departure.
In the original comics, Doom, the Four’s longtime opposition, was an older and more foreboding type, a ruler of Latveria who had attended college with Reed Richards, the leader of the Four. His vanity led him to place the famous metal mask onto his face before it had finished cooling, fusing it to his skin and leaving him permanently scarred. From there, it was just a hop, skip and a jump to becoming one of the iconic villains in Marvel history, a ranting madman genius who plotted mass destruction of his rival Richards and the meddling troupe.
The Tim Story films tied Doom’s supervillainous origins with that of the core Four, already a contentious change from the source material. Of course, that alteration would have gone down easier if it weren’t for McMahon’s considerable non-presence in the part. Anecdotally, I sat my then-six year old niece down to watch those films, and when she heard McMahon’s voice coming from that hideous, evil mask, she casually remarked, "He sounds like a nice man." That’s probably not the target you want to hit when bringing Dr. Doom to the screen.
On one hand, gender-blind casting is cool, and Dr. Doom, like all comic characters, is subject to a bit of experimentation. A lady Doom changes the dynamic. Has she always been close to Richards? Is there some romantic heat there? And while everyone is upset about the lack of bigscreen female heroes, there’s an even greater dearth of evil bad girls, particularly ones not beholden to their sexuality. An evil cackling genius in a mask is something we’ve seen before. But as a lady? Sure, sounds dynamic and fresh.
On another level, this is a good way to anger the typically lady-phobic comic fanbase. Which is something that must be done if you want to convert small-minded people into a greater understanding, but do you want to risk angering these fools in regards to The Fantastic Four, which is coming off the heels of two other pictures about this very same subject that were already not well received? And if Doom is still a tyrannical leader of Latveria, aren’t you playing into the stereotypes of women in positions of power, especially if her anger stems from a man rebuffing her for another lady? Also, this movie comes out in a little over a year: if the script is set up so that the main conflict can be changed from group-against-man to group-against-female, it can’t be all that interesting, can it?
THR also reports that screen-testing continues for the various roles in the film, and that it can be confirmed that Miles Teller tested for Mr. Fantastic, both Kate Mara and Emmy Rossum tested for the Invisible Woman, and Christian Cook got a look-see as Ben Grimm, aka The Thing. Michael B. Jordan remains the only actor actually signed for the project, while the report suggests Saoirse Ronan, Elizabeth Olsen and Kit Harington were not candidates to join the film, contrary to earlier rumors. More are expected to test in coming days and, if we had to bet, Fox will eventually be selecting a male Doom. Even if Margot Robbie as Vanessa Von Doom, cackling and shooting lightning out of her fingers, would be absolutely baller.