Have you ever wanted to hear a superhero story from the point-of-view of the villain? If so, then you’re absolutely going to love Mr. Nobody.
DC Universe's second live-action series is flipping the script on what fans expect from the classic superhero team-up origin story. Doom Patrol (premiering Feb. 15) tells the story of how the most offbeat, inappropriate and unwilling comic book team comes together…but from the perspective of their biggest villain. That villain would be Mr. Nobody, brought to delicious life by Firefly’s Alan Tudyk. And since he's the one trying to destroy them all, it gives their tale of reluctant heroes a much-needed breath of fresh air.
This narrator isn't afraid of letting you know exactly how he feels about this group of "morons" and the superhero genre in general. He's like the worst of internet trolls come to life, if internet trolls were actually as funny as they seem to think they are. (Don’t be surprised if you find yourself laughing so hard that you need to rewind multiple times to make sure you can hear all his meta and sharp comments.)
But is Mr. Nobody a reliable narrator? Since we're only hearing his side of the story, with all his strong opinions and editorializing, it can be hard to trust that what we're seeing is how things are actually going down.
"It is what's happening," swears Tudyk. "He’s definitely spinning it for his benefit as he mocks his enemies, the Doom Patrol. He thinks they're a bunch of morons and he'll say it to them. 'Close your mouth. You have nothing to say.'"
Tudyk then laughs as he gets into the arrogant and boisterous voice of Mr. Nobody. "He’s a reliable narrator in that…ugh, he is unreliable!" he suddenly shouts, interrupting his previous explanation. "You don't know! He’s his own man. You don't know."
While Mr. Nobody is unlike any villain you've ever seen on a comic book show (note that no photos of him have been officially released, but you can get a quick glimpse of him in the Doom Patrol trailer released earlier this week), he does fall into the classic super-villain trap of monologuing. Only instead of monologuing at one crucial moment, it's all throughout the entire season.
"He's speaking like any villain where they say, 'This is what's going to happen and this is what's going to happen,'" Tudyk explains. "And then the hero may have a different idea of what's going on usually. That’s usually what the hero wants, but not this time, dammit! 'These aren't heroes!'"
Just like Mr. Nobody is unlike any villain that’s come before, Doom Patrol is unlike any comic book show that has come before. "The 'superheroes' are messed up," Tudyk says with a laugh. "They're very likable, but they’re odd."
There's Robotman (Brendan Fraser), a human brain stuck inside a metal robot, Negative Man (Matt Bomer), a radioactive former WWII pilot with a negatively charged energy being stuck inside of him, Elasti-Girl (April Bowlby), a former Hollywood ingénue who can barely keep her body from melting into a giant blob and Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero) who keeps 64 different identities in check, each with a different superpower. And don't forget the mysterious leader Chief (Timothy Dalton) or half-man, half-robot Cyborg (Joivan Wade). And they're all being hunted by Mr. Nobody, a sociopath who looks like a two-dimensional representation of a fragmented shadow who can drain the sanity from human beings.
Needless to say, things get pretty wild, pretty quickly.
"My character Mr. Nobody, he’s got so much power, but he's an absurd individual," Tudyk says. "He loves the absurdity of existence and inflicting absurdity on people. It's crazy. There’s a roach that’s a born-again Christian! I'm looking forward to people seeing this world that can fit so much insanity inside of it and have it make sense."
DC Universe's live action Doom Patrol is mainly pulling from Grant Morrison's comic run from the '90s, and so to research this weird pocket of the DC canon, Tudyk read all the books from that run.
"In the comic books, Mr. Nobody creates the Brotherhood of Dada and we don’t do that [on the show]," Tudyk says. "So, I just studied the Dada art movement, Salvador Dali, and all the people behind him. They were always trying to push the idea of what is possible and what's outside the norm, and even just watching Salvador Dali in interviews, his flamboyance, his eccentricities, I borrowed from that."
When you first see Mr. Nobody, you meet him as Eric Morden, the regular human he once was before he becomes the shattered form of Mr. Nobody. As for how Doom Patrol takes Tudyk's form and creates the geometric void of Mr. Nobody, Tudyk has no idea.
"I don’t know, which is rare for me not to know!" he says with a laugh. "I've done a couple of films where I’ve played a CGI character and experienced that and I know a lot about the process that goes into it, because they were big movies. When I’m Mr. Nobody, I don’t know how they do it when I’m that fragmented version of me you'll see. They erase me except half my face. I don't know how they do that and replace me with this weird, fragmented black and white being. It's bizarre!"
After joking that it's just "Hollywood magic," Tudyk corrects it to "Burbank magic."
"I think it's done in Burbank," he says with another laugh.
It's clear from the very first few seconds of Doom Patrol that despite the all-star cast of misfit superheroes, Tudyk really steals the show. He's having a ball bringing the narcissistic super-villain to life, and isn’t holding any of his broad comedy back. But he's also making sure that he keeps Mr. Nobody somewhat human.
"He's an emotional being and emotions are inherently human," he says. "The things that drive them are pretty basic: revenge, malice. That’s the stuff that motivates us every day! Stuff you feel every day on the roads of Los Angeles driving around. It's in the relationships with people, and my main relationship is with Timothy Dalton’s character, so it's in that and how our dance that we're doing goes on. I kidnap him early on, or I'm circling him and he kind of circles me as much as he can, but I have him. He’s not getting away very easy."
There's a lot to be surprised by with Doom Patrol. But Tudyk thinks that Mr. Nobody is going to be the biggest shock to viewers.
"What's going to be surprising is that he exists, for a lot of people," he says with a laugh. "There are definitely a lot of fans of Doom Patrol. There's generally a very strong fanbase of people who love that [comic]. It is so special. But I think for people who don't know Doom Patrol, they’re just going to be surprised by the existence of this character, this Joker-esque, malicious…there's another word. There's one more word! I'm going to say 'ne'er do well.' Ah ha! That's not it, really, but it's okay."
It's interesting to hear Tudyk call Mr. Nobody "Joker-esque" because he's also voicing the Joker on another DC Universe show, the upcoming animated Harley Quinn series. But he's not having any trouble keeping these two villains as completely separate characters.
"The worlds are very different," Tudyk says. "The sense of humor is very different. This one is serious. There's humor too, but it is ultimately a drama. Harley Quinn is full on comedy and I cuss a lot more. My Joker says 'f-k off' a lot. 'F-k me!'”
Bringing two iconic DC villains to life on the same streaming service at the same time is a big moment for Tudyk, who's always loved Batman. He considers "the whole Batman series" his favorite DC property.
"I don't know who's going to be the new Batman," he says with a grin. "Here we go! What's it going to be? We’re just moving through these. Sometimes you get a good one and sometimes, it’s wild. It’s such an interesting thing. You get new Batman and new Spider-Man all the time. It’s kind of perfect for comic books in that way. Like you have all these artists and writers, but it's the same characters."
Doom Patrol debuts on February 15th, only on DC Universe. Not yet subscribed? Click here to change that!
Sydney Bucksbaum covers movies, TV and comics for DCComics.com, and writes about Superman every month in her column, "Super Here For..." Follow her on Twitter at @SydneyBucksbaum.