Fan-Cast: FF Villains, part 2: Doctor Doom

“No one rivals Doom! NO ONE! Doom is supreme! There is no power on Earth, no intellect in all creation to equal mine!”  — Doctor Doom, FF #258

When people think of the Fantastic Four’s arch-villain, Doctor Doom is the only logical choice. (Assuming they can only have one, that is.) So, why did I wait until my second FF villains post to cast him? Simply put, I had Puppet Master written up and was finishing Mole Man, when I realized that I had plenty for one post. Plus, there was no reason I had to stress out over trying to get a third done in time, so… I held off ’til this week. Please forgive me. I hope it was worth the wait….

doctordoom_Doctor Doom

Victor von Doom was born & raised among the much-maligned and persecuted Zefiro gypsies in the small Eastern European country of Latveria. He lost his mother (a practitioner of sorcery) when he was four and his father (a healer) when he was eleven, both indirectly due to conflicts with the King and his soldiers. He spent his youth applying his amazing intellect to mastering both science and sorcery and even then vowed to use his knowledge to rule the world.

Doom’s early scientific feats brought him to the attention of both the U.S. military and the scientific establishment. He accepted a full scholarship to State University, where he met Reed Richards and Ben Grimm. The arrogant and reclusive Doom became intellectual rivals with Richards, their competition being quite tense yet productive. (Doom’s work in robotics and time travel were financed by the U.S. military.) Meanwhile, he also continued with his study of the mystic arts, and his experiments in this area sometimes included scientific apparatus. During one of these experiments, Richards happened by and noticed a calculation that was off. Doom refused to listen, and the experiment failed, scarring Doom’s face. He blamed Richards, and thus their rivalry became even more serious and, at times, deadly.

doom-throneGoing into hiding, Doom continued his scientific and sorcerous efforts, including a working prototype of his Time-Platform. A soul-searching trek in the Himalayas led him to a secret order of monks who saved his life. The monks were masters of both technology and mysticism, and he spent the next 5 years mastering all they knew and then some. He became their leader and insisted they call him “Doctor Doom”. When he heard about Richards’ experimental space ship, he became enraged. Then he designed his iconic armor, built by the monks, which serves to cut him off both physically and emotionally from the world. His impatience caused him to don the mask before it finished cooling, thereby grafting it to his face and causing incredible pain.

From there, Doom reunited with the Zefiro tribe and managed to liberate Latveria from King Vladimir’s harsh rule. However, Doom’s rule has been at least as harsh on his subjects, if not more so. He demands absolute loyalty, immediate and unquestioning obedience, and will maim or kill anyone who disobeys or even annoys him. Doom went on to challenge and attack Reed Richards and the rest of the Fantastic Four multiple times over the years. In addition, Doom has fought many other superheroes and villains alike, often personally but also using his Doombots and/or via Machiavellian machinations behind the scenes. There have been occasions when Doom has allied himself with “good guys” to meet a mutual threat. (Current comics even have him forsaking his old ways and taking on the mantle of Iron Man in a quest for redemption and meaning!) But, Doom is at his megalomaniacal best as the incredibly cunning and powerful arch-villain with one of the most brilliant minds (and matching ego) in the world.

Historically, perhaps the three passions that most drive Doctor Doom are 1) his loyalty to Latveria and his Zefiro gypsy clan in particular; 2) his mission to retrieve the soul of his deceased mother from Mephisto; and, of course, 3) his all-consuming hatred for Reed Richards and the desire to prove himself Richards’ intellectual superior.

victor_von_doom_earth-616_from_thor_vol_1_600It has been said that Doom’s greatest weapon is his super-genius intellect, with which he has designed various versions of his amazing, nuclear-powered, titanium armor, which gives him superstrength, invulnerability, and several offensive and defensive weapons. With a knowledge-base that covered a wide breadth of scientific disciplines, he has also built many other weapons, a time machine, advanced robots (aka Doombots and the Latverian Servo-Guard), and other technological wonders. He is an accomplished martial artist, athlete, swordsman, painter and pianist. His will is so great that he has resisted psychic assaults and attempts at mind-control, though this may have been at least partially a side-effect of his mystical endeavors. Beginning with the mystic artifacts and affinity for sorcery inherited from his mother, Doom has at various times taught himself and been tutored by Dr. Strange and Morgan Le Fay. But, it was his diabolical pact with a trio of demons called the Hazareth Three that, for a time, granted him magical powers that put him on par with the greatest sorcerers. (At another time, he even acquired the Beyonder’s god-like powers. Yikes!)

We already know that Doom’s personality is that of an elitist, self-righteous tyrant. So, let’s move on to his physical appearance. Marvel’s wiki lists Doom as 6’2″ (6’7″ armored), 225 lbs. (415 lbs. armored), with brown hair and eyes. For many years he had facial scars, which were generally hidden beneath his mask. Aside from the scars, he is an attractive man, well-built and in excellent physical shape. The hair can always be dyed, of course, and muscle can always be added. I would prefer to keep our Doom over 6′ tall but probably not over 6’4″ — just enough to be imposing, especially when in full armor. Speaking of which, I have not been impressed with the two big-screen versions of Doom, and part of that was the attempt to merge him with his armor is some way, making him some sort of cyborg/mutant. (Don’t care for the early Ultimate version, either.) No, he needs to be a man in heavy armor — deceptively high-tech armor, but armor nonetheless — and it should look very close to the classic version seen in these pics. As for Doom’s age, I decided to go with a slightly older version (as I did for my FF casting), so somewhere in his mid-30s to mid-40s. Oh, and a nice baritone voice would be ideal, preferably with an accent that sounds like he is from Eastern Europe.

So, who might possibly play this iconic character?

First up is Goran Visnjic (6’4″,b.1972), the Croatian-born actor who became a TV heartthrob during his many years on the U.S. TV series “ER”. He has also appeared in The Peacemaker, Practical Magic, Spartacus (TV movie), Elektra, “The Deep”, “Leverage”, “Extant”, and is currently co-starring in “Timeless”. He has the Eastern European look, general build, and accent we want. Assuming he packs on a few pounds, I think he could be a great Doom.

Goran Visnjic in "Timeless"

Goran Visnjic in “Timeless”








Next we have Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (6’1.5″or2″,b.1970), a square-jawed native of Denmark best known for his portrayal of Jaime Lannister, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, in “Game of Thrones”. His other genre credits include Black Hawk Down, My Name Is Modesty: A Modesty Blaise Adventure, Kingdom of Heaven, “New Amsterdam”, Blackthorn, Oblivion, A Second Chance, and Gods of Egypt. Denmark isn’t Eastern Europe, but having lived & worked in Europe, he could probably come up with a satisfactory accent. He’s not my fave pick, but he could do a good job.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in *Gods of Egypt*

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in *Gods of Egypt*






Finally, I found another Eastern European candidate in Michal Zebrowski (6’2″,b.1972). I’m not familiar with this actor’s work, since most of it is in Polish, but he does have a few relevant credits. He was in With Fire and Sword, The Hexer (see pic), The Pianist, Army of Valhalla, and The Vulture (aka Sep). With dark hair and a few pounds of muscle, Zebrowski could be an excellent Doctor Doom!

Michal Zebrowski in *The Hexer*

Michal Zebrowski in *The Hexer*







Comments? Critiques? Not sure when I’ll get around to a “Part 3″, but I’m sure I will eventually. Which FF villains should I cast next?

P.S.  Last minute idea: For a 30-something Doom, what do you think of Superman himself, Henry Cavill (6’1”,b.1983)? Inspired casting or stupid?

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2017.

Quick Reviews of “Extant” and “The Strain”

I was trying to figure out what to write about this week. I needed a break from fan-casting, so I decided to review another TV series… or two. I say “another”, but technically the only other series I’ve reviewed here up ’til now is “Star Trek Continues”, and that doesn’t air on TV (regular or cable). I will be reviewing the upcoming “Gotham” and “The Flash” series in separate posts in the next few weeks. But, for “Extant” and “The Strain”, I think I’ll keep my comments relatively brief, so I can cover both in one. I suppose I could have waited until both series were completed, but a) I’m a few weeks behind in viewing them and b) I have other things planned through the end of the year. It just made more sense to squeeze these reviews in now. So,…

Extant promo posterOn the night I publish this, “Extant” will air its 12th and penultimate episode, but I will have only watched through episode 8. I am enjoying the show but still wondering how it all fits together. Some threads are coming together, but others aren’t quite there. (For example, I’m wondering if Ethan will “go bad” or if the “offspring” will make some connection with “him”. And, what’s with this Odin guy and his little group? What is Femi Dodd’s agenda?) I guess that’s a good thing, that they keep us guessing and (hopefully) coming back for more. Gradual revelations and plot twists-n-turns will do that.

Halle Berry is pretty good in the lead role, and even when she isn’t doing anything particularly dramatic, she’s certainly easy on the eyes! (Sorry if that sounds mildly sexist, but you know the ladies enjoy watching a handsome, hunky guy like Goran Visnjic, too.) I’m still not sure about pairing Berry with Visnjic, though. I don’t have a problem with interracial couples. But, these two characters just don’t feel like a happily married couple. (Of course, her having been away for 13 months, plus the current events in their lives, would understandably have put a lot of unusual stress on their relationship.) Young Pierce Gagnon as “Ethan” is adorable — and potentially scary. Hiroyuki Sanada is good as Yasumoto, though the role is disturbingly similar to the one he just played in “Helix”. The rest of the casting is fine, too.

The tech seems pretty cool. Beyond the voice-controlled home security systems and self-driving cars, I mean, which are beginning to become available now in real-life. The prosthetics, robotics, and especially the A.I. is obviously waaaay beyond anything we’ll have anytime soon. Also, given how often they send up manned space missions, I’m guessing they’ve made several advances in that area, too. Btw, anybody catch how far in the future this is supposed to take place? I don’t remember hearing or seeing a year mentioned, but I’m guessing it has to be 40-50 years or more from now.

“The Strain” is a bit different. While I have only watched the first 5 episodes, so far, I already know how it’s going to turn out. Well,… sort of. I discovered and read the first book (that the show is based on) several months ago, so it’s fairly fresh in my mind. (Hazy on a few details, of course.) This is both a blessing and a curse. I enjoyed the novel by Del Toro and Hogan and was pleased to find out it was being adapted for television. However, as I feared, they have made so many changes — some understandable, some less so — that it is rather frustrating to watch.

The Strain promo posterOverall, the casting is fine. No major complaints there, though I would have preferred Jesse Rath as Gabriel Bolivar, and it’s too bad that John Hurt had to be replaced as Abraham Setrakian. Character-wise, I’m darn sure I remember Ephraim’s boss at the CDC being much older and not such a jerk in the novel. I also think the characters of Vasiliy Fet and Gus have been written to be much more, er, aggressive than they were originally. Why?

What bugs me most is the different pacing that the writers/producers took for TV. Several things have occurred or been revealed much sooner than they were in the book — for example, the medical examiner’s discoveries of new organs in the victims’ bodies (and what happened to him), Ephraim & Nora’s discoveries of the worms, the confrontation with Capt. Redfern (which originally only involved Ephraim, I think), the first view of The Master, the “reveal” of Jim’s involvement, etc. Speaking of The Master, that “appendage” of his is HUGE! In fact, all of the victims that have “turned” have them. In the book, the new organ grows in the throat but the thing that shoots out of the mouth is much smaller.

On the whole, I’m still enjoying the show, and I’ll watch it to the end, which I presume will take us through the end of the first novel. But, it just annoys me when so much has(?) to change when adapting a novel to the small- or large-screen. I know, I know. Some of it really is necessary to keep the different elements of the story moving for the TV audience. That’s why I’m “tolerating” it and not complaining (too much) when some characters and subplots are missing, merged, or otherwise modified or when the locations for where certain scenes occur are altered from the book. But, sometimes, it’s like they change things just to annoy me! :/