Since the end of Secret Wars, Marvel’s most iconic villain has found himself in a new chapter of his life; one where he seems to honestly be making a go at being a hero and seeking acceptance from the community he once threatened to overthrow and destroy. Victor Von Doom, perhaps Marvel’s most famous supervillain, is currently known as the Infamous Iron Man. And while most people still don’t trust that he's turned over a new leaf, he has found a place for himself in The Avengers and people are beginning to realize that maybe, just maybe, this time it’s for real.
The tragedy of Doctor Doom lies in the fact that everything that goes wrong for him is his own fault. His vanity stops him from recognizing this flaw, and instead he projects blame outwardly, whether to a single individual, a nation or the entire world. Since stepping into the armored boots vacated by Tony Stark, things have been going well for Doom. He’s getting better at being a hero every day, but can such a change last or is he — no pun intended — doomed to a life of villainy?
The Lie of Nobility
One of Doctor Doom’s most well known traits is that while he is a megalomaniacal supervillain, he's also a noble man and has a set of codes and ethics to his supervillainy that he abides by. The problem with that, though, is that it’s a giant misconception that eventually wormed its way into his character as a genuine trait. Doom isn’t noble; he just tells himself and anyone else that will listen. And, as we can see daily from the news, if you shout a lie loud enough for long enough, some people will start to perceive it as the truth.
Victor Von Doom is a planner, a schemer and a betrayer at heart. He's also a narcissist that will do anything he can to prove that he is as superior as he sees himself in his own head. This has been Doom’s character all along; look back to how he scrambles and schemes to get any scrap of greater power, such as The Power Cosmic in Fantastic Four #57, or The Beyonder’s power in Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars. These aren’t the actions of a noble man; they’re the actions of a desperate person, which is all Doom truly is at his core.
Victor Von Doom has told the lie so often that he truly believes it, as such many others do, both within the Marvel Universe and in fan circles -- but it’s not who he truly is. If Doctor Doom is ever going to really be a hero, he needs to live up to the nobility he’s ascribed to himself for decades and figure out how to act selflessly and without ulterior motives.
The Hero’s Journey
However, it’s possible and even likely that the events of Secret Wars did truly change him. In the story’s climax, Doom admitted to himself that his most hated enemy (Reed Richards) would have done a better job with as the God-Ruler of Battleworld, a breakthrough that led to the restructuring of the Marvel Multiverse. It was genuine character development moment, and the event ended with a healed Doom facing the sunlight, ready for a fresh start.
Since his creation, Victor Von Doom has been obsessed with Reed Richards; specifically, he has been obsessed with proving he is a better man than Reed Richards, so a Doom unencumbered from that dangerous obsession could be a genuine force for good. It’s similar to Lex Luthor’s claim that he could save the world if it wasn’t for Superman; Doom always had the potential to be the man he told the world he was, but his pettiness and vindictiveness prevented it.