Move over, Paw Patrol
[A villain is about to kill Robotman]
Negative Man: [arriving with the Doom Patrol] “Hands off the tin man! He may be an obnoxious, anti-social jerk, but he’s our obnoxious, anti-social jerk.” – Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “The Last Patrol!” (Season 2, Episode 16)
A squad of terrorists gather around a table, planning their next attack. The table shudders as loud thuds are heard. The terrorists are showered with debris as the ceiling collapses. The surviving soldiers see a giant woman and open fire. She recoils from the stinging bullets and is replaced by a bronze-colored man jumping through the ceiling.
More bullets bounce off of the man, and the terrorists now see he is a robot. Before the terrorists can blink, the robot lunges forward to demolish them. It is quickly joined by a dark, flying shape that fires energy blasts at them. The leader tries to escape, but is grabbed from behind. His assailant cackles and twists the man’s head off. Their mission complete, the Doom Patrol returns to their base.
The Doom Patrol is one of DC’s quirkiest teams. They were intended to be team of freaks protecting a world that hated and feared them. These days, the Doom Patrol is remembered as an X-Men rip-off full of bizarre stories and as the series that Beast Boy debuted in.
So why is the Doom Patrol getting a show on DC Universe? How bizarre could it get? Who are these super-powered freaks and geeks anyways? Let’s find out.
Freak Show: The Doom Patrol’s Backstory
The Chief: “Hasn’t my Doom Patrol done enough? Sacrificed enough? Why must they continue to hound us?!” – Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “The Last Patrol!” (Season 2, Episode 16)
The Doom Patrol debuted in My Greatest Adventure #80 in 1963. The were created by Arnold Drake, Bob Haney, and Bruno Premiani. Due to similar characters and concepts, Drake believed that Stan Lee stole his Doom Patrol ideas to use for the X-Men. He finally relented shortly before his death in 2007 and acknowledged that they just had similar ideas during the same time frame.
Doctor Niles Caulder was a genius who was ostracized for being a paraplegic. Over time he encountered several people with astonishing powers who were feared for being different. He felt kinship with them and realized they could become the world’s greatest heroes. He named this group the Doom Patrol.
The Doom Patrol may be strange, but their enemies are downright ridiculous. It says a lot when a guerrilla gorilla named Monsieur Mallah is one of the sensible foes. The Doom Patrol also battled the phallically armed Codpiece, the shape-shifting Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, and the sanity stealing Mr. Nobody (Firefly’s Alan Tudyk)
The Doom Patrol eventually proved unpopular and went out with a literal bang. They were captured by a Nazi villain called General Zahl. He trapped them on an island that was rigged to explode and revealed there were also bombs hidden in a Maine town. Either the Doom Patrol would die or the townspeople would be blown up in their place. With no good escape The Doom Patrol allowed themselves to be killed.
Thus ended the original Doom Patrol.
Doomed Defenders: The Doom Patrol’s Members
Robotman: “Aw crud. Figgers it’s always me who has to save your sorry butts. [starts pounding a villain] Like it or not, these losers are the closest things to friends I’ve got in this stinkin’ world! I ain’t gonna let you hurt them!” – Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “The Last Patrol!” (Season 2, Episode 16)
Doctor Caulder isn’t one to hide at headquarters while the Doom Patrol fights. He accompanies them in the field when he is able, using his scientific knowledge to help overcome threats. Doctor Caulder has even upgraded his wheelchair so that it can fly and fire lasers.
Doctor Caulder ain’t all sunshine and laser chairs, though. He has sociopathic tendencies and once tried to kill half the human race to make the surviving half stronger. Good thing he didn’t have an Infinity Gauntlet. The Doom Patrol managed to convince him genocide wouldn’t help matters and have tried to help him atone.
Next up is Elasti-Woman, formerly Elasti-Girl. And yes, The Incredibles had to pay to use that name. Rita Farr was an Olympic swimmer and actress. While shooting a scene near a volcano, she was exposed to strange gases that gave her the ability to change her size. Unfortunately, Rita could not control her powers.
Rita considered herself a freak and became a recluse. Doctor Caulder helped her gain control of her powers and convinced her to join the team. The newly-named Elasti-Woman was the team’s emotional center, diffusing their frequent arguments. When the Doom Patrol encountered the orphaned hero Beast Boy, Elasti-Woman adopted him. Luckily, he wasn’t with the team when they were killed.
Cliff Steele was a race car driver who competed in the Indianapolis 500. A crash during a race destroyed his body. Coincidentally, Doctor Caulder was nearby and managed to save Cliff’s brain, which he then placed into a robotic body. Because that worked so well for Doctor Frankenstein.
The newly dubbed Robotman shifted between suicidal depression and fury. The rest of the Doom Patrol managed to help him through his trans-human trauma. Since then, he has become a clear-cut ripoff of The Thing from Fantastic Four.
Larry Trainor was a test pilot who was exposed to a mysterious cloud while flying a plane. The cloud disfigured Larry, made him radioactive, and fused his soul to an energy being later called the Negative Man. And of course Doctor Caulder was there to fix and recruit him. Caulder created special bandages to stop the radiation, resulting in Negative Man looking like HG Wells’ Invisible Man.
The final member of the Doom Patrol was added decades later in 1989. Kay Challis was only 5 years old when her father raped her. The incident caused her to suffer Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Kay retreated into her mind and was replaced by a personality named Miranda. Years later, Miranda was raped, causing Kay’s mind to fracture into 64 different personalities, led by “Crazy Jane”.
Making matters worse, the city she was in was hit by a gene-bomb, causing countless people to develop superpowers. Jane was one of them. All 64 personalities got a unique superpower, which Crazy Jane can cycle between at will. The Doom Patrol convinced her to join the team and helps her manage the disparate personalities.
The Actors playing The Doom Patrol
The Doom Patrol debuted in the Teen Titans two-parter “Homecoming”. Doctor Caulder was replaced by the telepath Mento (Xander Berkeley). Elasti-Girl was played by prolific voice actor Tara Strong, Negative Man was Beverly Hills Cop’s Judge Reinhold, and Robotman was voiced by character actor Peter Onorati.
The Doom Patrol next appeared in Batman: the Brave and the Bold as washed up has-beens. The team had disbanded after failing to stop General Zhal from murdering a hostage. They reunited with Batman’s help, only to die in an adaptation of their last comic.
The Doom Patrol appeared in an episode of Titans to set up their self-titled spinoff. Former James Bond Timothy Dalton brings in star power as Doctor Caulder. Action star Brendan Fraser plays Robotman, with pre-robotic scenes featuring Riley Shanahan as Cliffe Steele. Golden Globe winner Matt Bomer and Matthew Zuk play Negative Man. Orange is the New Black’s Diane Guerrero plays Crazy Jane, and April Bowlby plays Elasti-Woman. The Doom Patrol is recruited by Cyborg, played by Eastenders’ Joivan Wade.
Didya get all that?
DC’s strangest super-team.
Jared Bounacos has written for Movie Rewind since 2017.