Secret Wars is one of Marvel’s biggest marquee names, an indication of how massive certain events can become. It’s even currently set to be the inspiration from the next major closing chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Multiverse Saga, which is set to come to a head in Avengers: Secret Wars. But if the MCU is looking to the Secret Wars comic storylines for inspiration, it also needs to make sure it includes a certain villain from the original event.
Doctor Doom is one of Marvel’s best villains, and one of the only figures who can work at the center of a massive event like Secret Wars – capable of being powerful enough to justify his role while being a strong enough character to retain his flawed humanity that story’s massive scope.
Doctor Doom’s Role in Secret Wars
Both the original Secret Wars (by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck, and Bob Layton) and the 2015 Secret Wars (by Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribić, and Ive Svorcina) highlighted Doctor Doom’s power and personality by shifting him into a central role. In the original Secret Wars, Doom quickly positions himself as the leader of the villains assembled on Battleworld by the Beyonder as part of a contest between good and evil. Doom’s efforts to defeat the cosmic entity and then the heroes are met with frequent challenges. Eventually, Doom is able to achieve god-like control over reality, but is goaded by the Beyonder (in disguise as Klaw) into overextending himself and eventually losing control of his abilities.
The 2015 Secret Wars also largely centered around Doom, who’d spent the proceeding storylines amassing the power to combat the Beyonders on their level. Claiming their power for himself, the new God King Doom recreated the multiverse as Battle-World – only for his failings to haunt him as Reed Richards and the other survivors of Earth-616 rallied against his rule. The comparatively smaller scale “Secret Wars 3” from Fantastic Four #319 (by Steve Englehart, Keith Pollard, Joe Sinnott, George Roussos, and John Workman) focused largely on an amnesic Doctor Doom seeking a way to restore his memories. Even in the Secret Wars stories where Doom is less of a presence within the narrative itself, he still plays a vital role as the impetus for major turns, like how the 2004-2005 Secret Wars (by Brian Michael Bendis and Gabriele Dell’Otto) focused on a covert mission into Latveria that was only possible due to Doom’s absence.
Doctor Doom is a Necessary Part of Secret Wars
Doctor Doom stands out even among the rest of the Marvel pantheon of villains, a true utility player within the superhero universe. Over the years, Doctor Doom has fought seemingly everyone at some point or another – operating at different tones depending on the adversary, but serving as something of a key antagonist at the heart of the Marvel Universe. His massive ambition and sheer scope of abilities make him uniquely suited to fight pretty much anyone and everyone, and his clear and tragic (but ultimately flawed and villainous) personality brings a humanizing touch to the events even as they become truly cosmic in scale. It’s why some of Marvel’s biggest stories (including older events like Infinity Gauntlet and Onslaught, or more recent fare like The Last Annihilation and “The Reckoning War”) have featured Doctor Doom in some important capacity – but nothing compares to his importance in the various Secret Wars storylines.
Doom offers something unique in his brand of villainy that benefits an event as inherently big as Secret Wars. Due to his history as a villain for the entire Marvel Universe as a whole, Doom is one of the few characters who can shift into the kind of central antagonistic role an event like that needs. His reliance on schemes but brash attitude towards enemies means there’s plenty of room for events to play out as quickly or as slowly as the plot requires, and it fits into his history.
Doom’s wide range of skills as an inventor and sorcerer alike give him a wealth of skills to deploy against his enemies, making him versatile in the field in a way even the heroes struggle to achieve. Any attempt to recreate or adapt Secret Wars that wants to recreate the original’s massive scale or the emotional weight of the 2015 follow-up needs to include Doom at the heart of the story. There’s no other Marvel villain who can fill that role quite like Doom, and any adaptation of the story that doesn’t use him in that capacity ends up suffering from it.