Nicolas Cage Almost Played a Body-Horror Twist on Doctor Doom in 2005’s Fantastic Four
Doctor Victor Von Doom is one of the most complex characters in all of comics, equal parts genius and madman, philosopher, and tyrant. Unfortunately, the live-action versions of the character have failed to capitalize on the dramatic potential of Doctor Doom. In an Instagram post, concept artist Ryan Unicomb revealed Nicolas Cage was at one point signed on to bring his uniquely chaotic energy to the role of the malevolent doctor:
“Back before Julian McMahon took over the role, Nicolas Cage had been cast as DOCTOR DOOM for 2005’s FANTASTIC 4. The production team decided to approach Cage after a concept artist used the likeness of singer Marilyn Manson for some of their pieces. At the time, the project was considerably darker & Doom’s look was definitely walking a line between PG13 & R (as seen in these production maquette’s of his skinless, bio-metal arms). This obviously never panned out but it’s interesting nonetheless.”
The 2005 Fantastic Four movie was Marvel’s first serious attempt at bringing the company’s original family of superheroes to the big screen. Unfortunately, the movie failed to do justice to the universe-trotting, cosmic adventures of the Four, instead keeping their adventure strictly confined to the city.
The Doctor Doom we got to see in the film was also a far cry from the poetic mad tyrant that fans know and love. Instead, he was a pretty run-of-the-mill generic bad guy wearing cosplay body armor. The concept art for Nicolas Cage’s take on Doom looks much more interesting, with the arm and the face resembling the look of a half-human, half-machine cyborg rather than a regular man wearing armor.
Clearly, such a dramatically gory take on Doom would not have aligned with the PG-sensibilities of the film we got to see. It is interesting to consider what the “darker” aspect of the storyline would have been that Unicomb mentions. The 2016 reboot of Fantastic Four was ostensibly meant to be that gritty, dark take on the source material, but again the creative direction on the film was fumbled, and Doctor Doom was once again reduced to the role of the generic supervillain.
This is not the only major comics role that Nicolas Cage lost out on. He was originally meant to play the role of the Last Son of Krypton in Superman Lives, and even went to the extent of filming test footage in the famous red and blue suit before the project was scrapped.
Finally, Cage was able to join the superhero movie world in a role that seemed tailor-made to his acting style. In the 2007 Ghost Rider film, Cage played the titular role as Johnny Blaze/ Ghost Rider, a stunt motorcyclist who made a deal with the devil that turns him into the maniacal Spirt of Vengeance in the presence of evil.
As far as Doctor Doom is concerned, fans are hoping to see the character debut in the MCU soon, where Kevin Fiege and the rest of the creatives at Marvel Studios will finally be able to do justice to the character and establish him as one of the most powerful and complex villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.