One of the biggest “out of left field” announcements of Comic-Con International in San Diego was the reveal that Noah Hawley is potentially tackling a Doctor Doom film. After you stop and think on it for a moment, you realize that this is nothing but great news. Over the past few years Hawley has firmly cemented himself as one of the most creative voices currently working in television. His Coen Brothers-inspired series Fargo has turned out amazing season after amazing season, and his foray into comic book adaptations, Legion, is a refreshing and unique show.
Now, we know practically nothing about the proposed film, but chances are it’s going to be an origin story, or at least involve Doom’s origin. It kind of has to be. People who don’t read comics might know who Doom is, but chances are they’re not too clear on his origin. With that in mind, it makes perfect sense to adapt Ed Brubaker and Pablo Raimondi’s Books of Doom. This six-issue miniseries is a biography of the villain’s life, told from the perspective of a present-day Doctor Doom.
Brubaker cherry-picked elements from previous stories about Doctor Doom’s past, combining and reworking them while adding his own narrative flourishes. He contextualizes Victor Von Doom’s history, painting him as a sympathetic character whose path to supervillainy is paved with tragedy. In short, he wasn’t born evil — he became evil.
Victor Von Doom is born into a group of Romani, in the country of Latveria. His mother, Cynthia Von Doom, was constantly dabbling in the occult. One night she is possessed by a demon, giving her supernatural abilities to take vengeance against a Latverian Baron’s soldiers who were constantly harassing her people. As payment, the demon also took the life of every child in the village, leading to Cynthia’s death at the hands of the surviving villagers. To make matters worse, her dealings with demons now means her soul belongs to Mephisto.
After his father and leader of the Romani clan, Werner, is unable to cure the Baron’s wife of her cancer, he and Victor go on the run as the Baron was just looking for an excuse to kill him. This also ends in tragedy, with Werner dying from exposure in the forests of Latveria while trying to keep Victor warm. It’s a tragic backstory, with the same level of loss felt by heroes like Spider-Man or Batman. Where Doom differs is how he channels that loss. Victor becomes cold. He begins experimenting with his mother’s spell books, later turning to science as a means to both take his revenge and free his mother from her eternal torment. He becomes the leader of his people by the time he’s 16, with word of his exploits making it as far as the United States of America.
He eventually leaves his homeland to work for the U.S. government, creating early versions of his Time Platform and Doom Bots. When an experiment to contact his mother’s soul goes wrong, his face is left disfigured – a constant reminder of his failure. He later travels to Tibet to find a hidden temple where monks have harnessed and combined powerful magicks with technology. It’s there that he finally discovers the power he desires, eschewing what little humanity he has left and becoming Doctor Doom.
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