With Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) still a few years and 5-6 films from wrapping up, it’s difficult to know exactly what lies in store for the Disney-powered Marvel Studios—beyond additional billions in box office and ample product tie-ins.
Beyond the money and the merchandising, there’s at least one other thing that is certain. Whether by hook, by crook or by the whiskers on Mickey Mouse’s chinny-chin-chin, the Fantastic Four will return to the MCU. The return of Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben back to the fold is inevitable. And not because Fox has so badly fumbled its initial efforts with the property (though that helps), or even because of the Fantastic Four’s status as Marvel’s first family. Ultimately, the MCU must recapture the FF for a simple, yet crucial reason: Disney needs Doom.
Victor von Doom—that’s Doctor Doom to us peons—is arguably the greatest arch-villain on the Marvel roster. Anyone whose knowledge of Doom is limited to the movies may well be unaware of just how towering a presence Doctor Doom is. (Fox’s singular and most dubious achievement with the franchise may be how completely they mangled the presentation of the character.)
Again, the MCU (and by extension the House of Mouse) needs the good Doctor. Regardless of what Disney has planned for life after Phase 3, given how much Hollywood loves a successful formula, the odds they decide to build toward another Thanos-level, all-heroes team-up event are high, and there’s really only one villain big enough to threaten the entire Marvel universe without the benefit of the infinity gems. Scientific genius, powerful sorcerer and the ruler of his own kingdom, Doctor Doom done right is everything one wants in a foe, and like all good end-game bosses, his schemes can threaten the very existence of our fearless heroes before he even makes a cameo.
Despite their earlier miscues, there is some evidence Fox understands how badly they’ve whiffed. In July at the San Diego Comic-Con, Legion creator Noah Hawley announced he was working on a Doctor Doom movie. But ultimately, going Doom-centric is short-sighted, even if Hawley and company stick the landing. Doom needs a fully populated universe to menace.
The MCU has it. Fox, band of merry mutants aside, doesn’t. And though Fox Studios is one of the Big Six studios, it weighs in significantly lighter than the Mouse’s these days, which makes the math pretty simple: Disney needing Doctor Doom equals Disney getting Doctor Doom. Even if that means a sharing arrangement akin to Sony’s recent loan-back of a certain webhead in Spider-Man: Homecoming, that’s good news for Marvel fans and really good news for fans of Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch and the Thing.
Doom is coming.