Geeks with a taste for the highbrow were amped last year when Legion and Fargo auteur Noah Hawley announced that he was working on a film starring the world’s greatest supervillain, Marvel’s Doctor Doom, for Fox. The hooded baddie has made a few screen appearances before in the four attempts at a movie about his arch-foes, the Fantastic Four, but this would be a solo outing for the bad doctor. Hawley further whetted appetites when he said he wanted his Doom picture to be a “political thriller” about the travails of the character, who is typically depicted as the monarch of the fictional Eastern European country of Latveria. Anyone looking for something more substantial in their superhero fare has cause to be intrigued by this particular project. Now, we’ve got good news and bad news.
The good news: Hawley has a finished screenplay. “I wrote a script that I really like and the studio really likes,” he tells Vulture, though he adds, “It needs a little work.” The bad news: it’s not getting filmed in the near future. Hawley said there are a pair of roadblocks. The first is the fact that he’s about to direct Natalie Portman and Jon Hamm in the astronaut drama Pale Blue Dot. Speaking about revisions to the Doom script, Hawley says, “It’s hard for me, at this exact moment — because I start shooting another movie in five weeks — to do that work. So, I mean, my hope is to go back to [the Doom movie] after [Pale Blue Dot].”
The other barricade is a corporate one. As of now, Fox holds the movie rights to the Fantastic Four franchise, which includes Doom. As you may have heard, Disney — the parent company of Marvel Comics — might devour Fox, which would mean Disney’s Marvel Studios (the folks who make the Avengers movies) would suddenly have access to the FF and their eternal nemesis. The merger is very much up in the air at this point, and Hawley’s Latverian project is up there with it. “I know there’s also a little uncertainty, given the potential for a Disney merger and the fact that Marvel may regain control of X-Men and Fantastic Four,” he says. “They may have a plan of their own in a desk drawer. I just don’t know. So, I think there’s sort of a sense of uncertainty.”
Nevertheless, like Doom facing down the Beyonder in the first Secret Wars crossover, Hawley remains optimistic in the face of these long odds. “I think the studio would like to make it,” he says. “I think we’re all just trying to figure out how and when we’re gonna do that.” Bah!