The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Victor Von Doom
arch-enemy of the Fantastic Four
Victor Von Doom, known as "Doctor Doom," is the arch-enemy of the Fantastic Four, the stars of the foundational comic book series of the Marvel Universe.
The character of Reed Richards was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby (both of whom were Jewish), and appeared in issue #5 of The Fantastic Four in 1962.
Doctor Doom has always been portrayed as a brilliant scientist and inventor. The character has also dabbled in magic and mysticism, and has demonstrated great skill in rapidly mastering magical knowledge. Doom's interest in magic began in early childhood, when he found the belongings of his mother, a talented Gypsy sorceress.
Both of Doom's parents were Roma (Gypsy). Although Doom rarely talks about his Roma religious/ethnic background, it is clear that his upbringing has had a significant influence on his persona.
Victor Von Doom was staying in a monastery in Tibet and studying with Tibetan Buddhist monks when he first constructed his iconic suit of armor and face mask and became the super-villain known as Doctor Doom. The monks made his first suit of armor and the face mask that he wore continuously from that time forward. Although Tibetan Buddhist monks played this pivotal role in his origin, Doctor Doom has never demonstrated any particular affinity for Tibetan Buddhism (or any form of Buddhism, for that matter). Tibetan Buddhists generally and its monks in particular tend toward pacifism, seemingly making them Doom's polar opposite. Doom seems to have been influenced very little in his overall philosophy by his time at the Tibetan monastery. Either that, or the Tibetan monks he studied with were atypical and unorthodox in their tradition.
Despite being an enemy of the Fantastic Four and being considered by the world at large as a "villain," Doom does not see himself as evil. Even his most frequent enemies recognize that Doom is a man or honor and a man of his word. There are many principles and virtues which he values and strives to live by, although he is not bound by the ethical system of any organized religion. Furthermore, Doom has always sincerely strived to be a benign dictator for his beloved Latveria. Unlike many despots and national leaders throughout history, Doom does not amuse himself by abusing his people. Doom has indeed been an enemy of the Fantastic Four, other superheroes, and the world at large. But while Doom has reigned over Latveria, the people there have generally lived in peace and prosperity (as long as they do nothing to oppose his rule).
Although Doom has been a believer in mysticism and a practitioner of magic throughout his adult life, and he is Roma (or Rroma) by birth and upbringing, these influences do not really constitute his "religion" in the sense of what is most important to him or what forms his core belief system. In a practical sense, Doctor Doom's "religion" could be said to be accomplishing the three goals he set for himself early in adulthood: rescuing his deceased mother, proving himself superior to Reed Richards, and conquering the world. Doom has now accomplished the first of these goals, but he continues to focus his energies on the last two. Doom has always maintained values and ideals (such as his personal honor, his beloved Latveria, interest in universal cosmic power, and his general intellectual curiosity and thirst for knowledge) apart from these goals. In this way, Doom is considerably less obsessive and monmaniacal than many "super-villains."
From: Jeff Christiansen, et al., Marvel Encyclopedia Vol. 6: Fantastic Four, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York, NY (2004), pages 63-66:
Born to gypsies Werner and Cynthia Von Doom in Latveria, Victor was an orphan before reaching his teenage years. Victor barely knew his mother, a witch who was killed after invoking the demon Mephisto. His father was a doctor who was forced to treat the wife of a Latverian baron, but could not save her from her cancer; the baron blamed Werner for his wife's death, and Werner died from exposure to the cold while on the run from the baron and protecting Victor. Before dying, Werner placed Victor into the care of his best friend, Boris; his final words were: "You must protect . . ." Only Boris understood the true meaning of these words: that the world must be protected from Victor Von Doom.
Victor soon left behind his true love Valeria as his desire to acquire knowledge and the means to seek revenge on others consumed him. Victor soon discoverd his mother's magical artifacts, and schooled himself in the ways of magic. By the time he was a teenager, he had also become a scientific genius, and used his invention to wage a one-man war against the monarchy of Latveria, always a step ahead of them. His genius was heard of even in America, and he was invited to State University in New York on a scholarship...
Throughout his time at the university, Doom maintained a petty rivalry with [Reed] Richards, convinced that his was the superior intellect. His great achievement was to design a machine to seek out the means to enter the aftelife, so that he could restore his long-lost mother to life. Richards noticed a flaw in Doom's calculations and tried to point it out to him, but Doom's pride refused to allow him to accept it. He activated the machine, and it exploded in his face.
Doom was expelled for the explosion and was bandaged up in the hospital. When Doom removed his bandages to see the damage he found only a few scars -- but was convinced that his looks had been ruined. Filled with self-loathing, he left America and journeyed to Tibet, seeking new enlightenment. There, he sought out the legendary Aged Genghis, who directed him to a long-lost order of monks without a leader. Doom made them his servants and had them construct for him his first suit of armor, designed to hide his features from the world. Doom had them press the mask to his face before it had cooled, ensuring that if his face had not been hideous before, it was now.
Dr. Doom returned to Latveria and conquered it, slaying the monarchy and naming himself ruler of the country. He used his genius and technology to transform Latveria into his idea of paradise, where no citizen wants, no one is threatened by war, and all praise Doom - or face the consequences. Doom stepped up his scientific prowess... He now set for himself three goals: to find and save his mother, to prove his superiority to Reed Richards, and to conquer the world...
Doom has also set lofty goals for himself, attmpting--and often succeeding [temporarily]--to wrest the power of the Beyonder, the Cosmic Cube, the Infinity Gauntlet, and Aron the Rogue Watcher. Despite his many failures, Doom insists that he is never truly defeated -- he merely activates a new contingency plan. Dr. Doom's greatest victory was when, after years of combating Mephisto, he and Dr. Strange finally rescued the soul of Cynthia Von Doom [Victor's mother] from hell, allowing her to pass on to a better afterlife.
For a time, Dr. Doom lost control over Latveria and descended into madness, while Prince Zorba reclaimed his family's throne from Doom. When Doom found that Latveria had fallen into anarchy without him guiding its fragile lifestyle, he convinced the Fantastic Four to assist him in overthrowing Zorba and retaking his throne. A young Latverian boy named Kristoff Vernard was orphaned by Zorba's forces, and Doom took the child under his protection, making him his heir. Around that time, Doom gained further magical training from the ancient sorcerer Cagliostro.
...Doom was one of those summoned by the Aged Genghis to compete for the title of Sorcerer Supreme of Earth. Taking second place to Dr. Strange, Doom was granted a boon from Strange. Doom and Strange invated Mephisto's realm and succeeded in not only freeing Cynthia von Doom's soul, but also in purifying it, allowing her to ascend to a higher plane...
Dr. Doom helped assist in the birth of Reed and Susan's daughter Valeria Richards, who was named after Doom's childhood love. Doom only performed this act of kindness as part of a grander scheme he had in mind. Having recognized that it was in magic that Dom was truly Reed's superior, he forged an alliance with the demon Haazareth, and sacrificed to them his greatest love, Valeria. Haazareth increased his mystical might to the point where he was a threat to even Dr. Strange.
Dr. Doom fashioned for himself new armor out of his former lover's body, and made Valeria Richards his familiar. He wielded his new mystical power against the Fantastic Four, attempting to break them as he never had before, sending Franklin Richards to hell and torturing the FF. Once again, Reed defeated him by both mastering somem magic himself, and by wielding Doom's own pride against him, by having him claim to acknowledge no superior in front of the Haazareth. The Haazareth took Doom into hell with them... Reed was determined to devise a final solution to Doom's menace by creating a prison which Doom would be unable to break out of, an dhad all of Doom's back-up equipment in Latveria destroyed. However, Doom escaped his prison by exchanging bodies with the FF, and by taking possession of the Thing, forced Reed to fatally wound him in order to save the Human Torch's life. [The Thing died, but Reed Richards rebuilt Doom's afterlife machine and went to Heaven, where God restored The Thing to mortal life on Earth.] Dr. Doom is currently still within his prison, devising his inevitabl escape.
From: "Religious Beliefs of Marvel Characters" discussion board started 20 October 2004 on Comic-Forum.com website (http://www.comic-forum.com/marvel/Religious_beliefs_of_Marvel_characters_397905.html; viewed 8 June 2006):
Date: 20 Oct 2004 21:55:56
Subject: Religious beliefs of Marvel characters?
Does anybody know the religious beliefs of various characters?
Bruce Banner/The Hulk
Date: 20 Oct 2004 23:02:28
From: The Black Guardian
All I know is the last one [Magneto]: Judaism. Most of the rest are probably various denominations of Christian. I'd say Strange is beyond most of the Earthly religions, or perhaps you could call him a pagan, since his work forces him to invoke non-Christian powers.
Date: 20 Oct 2004 23:16:20
From: Samy Merchi
[referring to previous poster's comments about Dr. Strange] The same probably applies for Doom. I'm not sure if you can apply being a follower of any conventional religion to a person who makes deals with demons and outwits Mephisto as his day job.
Date: 21 Oct 2004 15:19:09
From: Paul O'Brien
re: Dr. Doom
Well, he's into magic, so he probably has some complicated mystical idea about cosmic stuff.
Date: 22 Oct 2004 12:03:33
Well, Mephisto and his realm bears a rather close resemblance to Christian ideas of the Devil and Hell...
From: reader comments accompanying "Holy Superheroes" article, written by Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, posted 12 June 2006 on BeliefNet.com website; reprint of "Beliefwatch: Good Fight" article published in Newsweek, 19 June 2006 issue (http://www.beliefnet.com/story/193/story_19306_1.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
6/13/2006 11:37:24 PM
And let us not forget the villains. Dr. Doom, for example, studied in Tibet, which makes him a Mahayana Buddhist.
6/15/2006 11:20:59 AM
re: "...Dr. Doom... which makes him a Mahayana Buddhist..."
Well, he certainly doesn't act like it.
Seriously, when Lee and Kirby wrote that, they probably didn't know much about Tibet other than it's part of "the mysterious East."
[Webmaster's comments: Drpsionic is correct that Doctor Doom studied with apparently evil monks in Tibet. Drpsionic is, however, incorrect in suggesting that Doom should be classified as a Buddhist There is no evidence that Doctor Doom has in any way adopted Buddhism as a religious faith. Furthermore, although the Buddhism of Tibet is technically classified a subset of Mahayana Buddhism, it is more common for it to be identified as a unique, third branch of Buddhism, called either Vajrana Buddhism or simply Tibetan Buddhism. But, yes, Tibetan Buddhists are Mahayan Buddhists.]
From: "Catholic Clix - Comic info needed!" forum discussion started 3 May 2003 on HCRealms website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-40338.html; viewed 24 May 2007):
Ok, so in recent films it's been apparent that Daredevil and Nightcrawler are Catholic...
So, who else out there could be fielded in a "Catholic" Heroclix team?
Here's some for future reference that aren't in Heroclix yet.
Firebird's is Catholic. Punisher was Catholic (I'm not sure now). Aurora from Alpha Flight is very Catholic in one of her split personalities. Dagger is Catholic (not sure about Cloak). Bushwhacker (a villain) is Catholic. Venom's Catholic (Eddie Brock that is ;) ).
As for those that are in the game:
Thor at least believes in the Catholic church's beliefs (as he expressed in the classic 'Whatever Gods There Be' storyline) and I'd guess that Doom is Catholic, when he's not being a master of the occult. Most middle-European monarchs in his region are. I'm sure there are more.
Oddest. Topic. Ever.
But not a bad one. I just never expected to see it. I wouldn't use the "Our Father" as a sign of being Catholic. Many denominations use this. The same is true with the ideas of confession and alter boys. Eastern Orthodoxy has both.
Doom most likely would not be Catholic, but would probably be Eastern Orthodox, as Latvia is a (made-up) Eastern European country, not unlike Macedonia and Slavic nations.
And also don't look at funerals too hard. I've been to Lutheran funeral that look a lot like Catholic, as do Orthodox.
Actually Doom's shown evidence over his history that he's Catholic, including his discussion with a Catholic priest. I'm quite a student of Doom, and I'd say that his religion is most likely Catholic. Latveria's a pretty standard northern Balkan state, and its locale is in a prominently Catholic region...
...Doom would probably be atheist (although it is a little hard to be an atheist when you have personally gotten into fist fights with your god and his personal enemies).
...And really I'd think that Doom is a Christian. Most kings in his region are, and Doom is a classic example of a king in that region, at least in the non-superhuman aspects. As the king of his people he sets the example for them, and nearly every king worships at the state-approved official religion for their country, whatever their personal beliefs. Given that Doom is a man of great passions and (in his own mind at least) morals, I'd say it's much more likely for him to be Christian than not. Catholic? I don't know, but it wouldn't exactly be out of the question...
While Doom may have been exposed to Christianity as a child, I doubt he is currently a practicing anything other than megalomaniac. There are a lot of people who were raised Christian who have converted to another faith or become atheists or agnostics. Doom would doubtless consider faith in anything except his own power beneath him.
Doom's a Gypsy. So he's whatever... Gypsies are.
From: "Religious Characters In Marvel" forum discussion started 15 September 2006 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-143850.html; viewed 25 May 2007):
09-15-2006, 09:01 PM
The other day I was thinking about religion and comic books... What I'm interested in is the way religious characters are portrayed in comic books...
I think the first step is listing what characters are what religion...
09-15-2006, 09:44 PM
Mags is actually a born Jewish who was raised by gypsies in his youth.
His kids, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are gypsy.
Dr. Doom is of course, gypsy...
From: "Jewish Heroes or Villians in Marvel Universe?" forum discussion, started 12 December 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://www.xmenindex.com/forums/comicbooks/t-97146.html; viewed 31 May 2007):
01-31-2006, 06:16 PM
Magneto is Jewish, but this is a fact that not many comics fans either know, or remember. Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch are also half Jewish, because of their father, Magneto.
I sometimes think that Dr. Doom is Jewish, since his parents were gypsies. I may be wrong, though.
Sabra is the only Jewish hero i can think of who makes that statement clear. It's a shame, she is a character that has a lot of potential.
I have a feeling that there are more Jewish, or those who have Jewish characters in the Marvel Universe.
02-01-2006, 06:40 AM
re: I sometimes think that Dr. Doom is Jewish, since his parents were gypsies. I may be wrong, though.
That's an odd statement, Citizen V. First, Marvel seems to like "Gypsy" origins (Doom, Magneto, Nightcrawler) because they allow them to retcon stuff.
But what makes you think Gyspsies are Jews? Gypsy is an unfriendly term for members of the Sinti and Roma culture. Today there are Christian and Muslim Roma, but I don't know of any connection to Judaism.
I think you should get some info's ;)
Jews are not Gypsies!
From: "Please Help List Minority Groups" forum discussion, started 11-05-2006 on "Super-Hero Hype" website (http://forums.superherohype.com/showthread.php?t=255464; viewed 12 July 2007):
11-05-2006, 02:40 PM
I'm doing a project for Ohio State University about subordinate group representation in Marvel Comic's superhero population (pretty awesome, huh?)
A subordinate group basically means a population that's not a dominant group. And I've got 7 categories to fill; ethnic, gender, religious, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, and physical or mental ability. ..though I think I'll cut socioeconomic status do to it's fine line-ish qualities in comics.
So, how about I'll give what I've got so far, and then feel free to add to my lists. I think I have a pretty good handle on the MU, but it's still huge and I don't want to forget anybody. Should be fun anyway.
I didn't explore the site that thoroughly, but it did look like for each character some kind of "evidence" was cited.
As for villains and atheism, possibly the reasoning is that a villain is almost by definition breaking the moral codes of most religions, and so is probably not a sincere practicioner of any such religion. I'd consider such reasoning faulty, but it may be the reasoning used.
I'll have to go back and look closer at the site. I wonder what Doctor Doom is listed as? We KNOW he believes in an afterlife, certainly...
Webpage created 10 December 2005. Last modified 12 July 2007.
We are always striving to increase the accuracy and usefulness of our website. We are happy to hear from you. Please submit questions, suggestions, comments, corrections, etc. to: firstname.lastname@example.org.