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Can We Please Have Doctor Doom Be Played By A Romani Actor?

He was never white in the comics, but he shouldn’t be white-washed either.

By Jenna DeedyPublished 2 months ago 5 min read

Considering recent casting news surrounding the upcoming reboot of Disney's Fantastic Four film, which will be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there have been widespread rumors regarding the potential introduction of the iconic villain Doctor Doom. These rumors have sparked a wave of fan casting suggestions, with actors such as Giancarlo Esposito, Cillian Murphy, and Henry Cavill being frequently mentioned. However, a notable aspect of these suggestions is the conspicuous absence of actors of Romani descent.

My concern stems from the fact that Doctor Doom is one of Marvel's few canonical Romani characters. His Romani heritage and upbringing in a migrant Roma community are integral aspects of his characterization. Neglecting this aspect in the casting process not only perpetuates the underrepresentation of Romani people in the media but also undermines the richness and diversity of the Marvel universe.

About Doctor Doom’s Romani Roots

Victor Von Doom, born to Romani parents who were migrants, experienced a tragic early life marked by profound racial prejudice. According to his backstory, Doom's mother, a practitioner of the arcane arts, sought to combat the systematic persecution endured by her people and family. However, a disastrous encounter with a malevolent entity resulted in the deaths of several villagers and, ultimately, her own demise.

Following this devastating loss, Doom's widowed father was summoned to treat the ailing wife of a local baron. Fearful of repeating the cycle of grief, Doom became apprehensive when his father returned, having failed in his endeavor. This failure resulted in the elder Von Doom facing persecution at the hands of the baron's soldiers, forcing him and his son to flee into the unforgiving mountains. In a selfless act of ultimate sacrifice, Doom's father succumbed to the harsh elements to ensure his son's survival. Witnessing the baron's soldiers seize his father's frozen body as a macabre trophy fueled a fire of cold fury and vengeance within young Victor. This culminated in the taking of a soldier's life, fueled by the dehumanization and oppression he had endured.

The profound trauma inflicted upon Doom in his formative years shaped his singular pursuit: to liberate his mother's spirit from the clutches of the demon that had possessed her. The iconic mask he frequently wears serves as a constant reminder of a tragic accident during an experiment, which resulted in his facial disfigurement. This event was further compounded by his disregard for warnings from a young Reed Richards regarding potential flaws in his calculations, ultimately leading to the accident and the bitter rivalry that persists between the two characters to this day.

Despite certain aspects of Doom's origin narrative in the comics being problematic and stereotypical, the core message conveyed by the creators remains relevant. He is presented as an individual born into a marginalized group that has historically faced significant racial prejudice and discrimination. This distinguishes him from the more traditional white, male protagonists commonly found in the Marvel universe, such as Iron Man, Star-Lord, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Doctor Strange.

Why Cast a Romani Actor As Doctor Doom?

Selecting a Romani actor to embody the character of Victor Von Doom, a Latverian Roma, would represent a commitment by Disney to both fidelity and inclusivity. This decision aligns with the established identity and heritage of the character as depicted in the comics. Additionally, it presents an opportunity for the studio to actively combat harmful racial stereotypes and contribute to the ongoing effort to increase diverse representation.

The Roma people, originating from India, Pakistan, and Iran, have historically faced marginalization and misrepresentation in media. By casting a Romani actor in the prominent role of Doctor Doom, Disney might challenge these negative portrayals and contribute to a more positive and accurate representation of the Romani community within mainstream media.

Furthermore, such a casting choice could facilitate the development of a deeper and more personal connection with the character for audiences. A Romani actor's portrayal may provide a deeper understanding of Doom's experiences, motivations, and character arc, ultimately leading to a more nuanced and authentic interpretation of the character for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

What About The Fans? What Would Their Arguments Be?

While acknowledging the importance of prioritizing an actor's ability to embody a character effectively, as exemplified by Elizabeth Olsen's portrayal of Wanda Maximoff (whose comic book heritage as half-Roma, half-Jewish remains a point of discussion), it is important to distinguish such instances from the current situation.

The recent successes of Disney's BIPOC-centered films, including "Black Panther," "Coco," "Moana," "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," "Soul," and "Raya and the Last Dragon," demonstrate the power of authentic representation. These films not only challenged harmful stereotypes but also presented positive and accurate portrayals of historically underrepresented groups. This inclusive approach fosters deeper audience connections with the characters and narratives, further bolstered by the casting of BIPOC actors and, sometimes, the involvement of BIPOC writers and directors.

With Doctor Doom, adhering solely to the actor's talent disregards the character's established Romani heritage, a significant aspect of his comic book identity.

Opponents may express concern regarding the availability of Romani actors possessing the requisite experience and skill for a major Hollywood production. However, this perspective can be challenged. Several talented Romani actors, such as Connor Swindells and Charlie Clapham, demonstrably possess the capabilities to portray Doctor Doom effectively. Swindells' acclaimed performance in "Sex Education" exemplifies his acting prowess, while Clapham's combined acting and physical abilities make him an interesting candidate for the role of a character adept in both science and magic. Furthermore, Disney has a proven track record of casting unknown actors in prominent roles, who subsequently achieved recognition beyond their initial franchises. Therefore, it is entirely workable that Disney would embrace this opportunity to showcase a lesser-known Romani actor in the role of Doctor Doom.


In conclusion, casting a Romani actor to portray Doctor Doom in the upcoming Fantastic Four film presents an interesting opportunity for Disney. It would not only honor the character's established identity and heritage but also contribute to the ongoing fight against harmful stereotypes and increase diverse representation in Hollywood. Choosing an actor of Romani descent aligns with Disney's recent commitment to inclusivity, as seen in their string of successful BIPOC-centered films. While concerns may exist regarding the availability of suitable actors, talented individuals are readily available. Furthermore, Disney has a history of successfully launching unknown actors into stardom. By prioritizing both authenticity and inclusivity in casting Doctor Doom, Disney can deliver a nuanced and powerful portrayal of this complex villain, further enriching the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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About the Creator

Jenna Deedy

Zoo and Aquarium Professional, Educator, Cosplayer, Writer and B.A. in Psychology whose got a lot to share when it comes to animals, zoos, aquariums, conservation, and more.

Instagram: @jennacostadeedy

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