Christopher Lloyd has played a handful of memorable
characters throughout his career. Many filmgoers
immediately see him as Doc Brown from Back to the Future. While being associated with that classic is nothing
to scoff at, Lloyd’s Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit is his only
performance that has truly floored me.
And genuinely frightened me.
Judge Doom is the ultimate antagonist. Sure, on paper, he appears to be a one note
film noir reject going through his daily routines with his own unique brand of
morbidity and torture. But Lloyd clearly
saw something more than that. He saw a
tortured soul, living the life of both a toon and a human being, all the while
trying to play both sides of the field to his iron fist advantage.
Seeing as how I literally grew up on three films (Batman, The
Goonies and Who Framed Roger Rabbit) during the brief Beta era, one of my earliest
childhood memories brings me back to when Doom tortured a toon shoe by slowly
submerging it into The Dip. I’m thankful
for having grown up throughout the 80s and 90s, a time in which villains in
PG rated films were actually the sort of villains that could give you
nightmares for doing some truly twisted shit.
Nowadays, apparently only a snare will suffice.
As soon as Judge Doom is introduced into the story, he
literally commands every scene that he is in.
His peculiar body movements and somewhat stretched face (with eyes that
don’t blink) slowly create a feeling of tension and discomfort. And the entirely black and morose wardrobe
doesn’t do him (or us) any favors. I’ve
read that the animation team planned on adding a toon vulture to sit perched on
his shoulder, which, I think, would’ve be fabulous; a true throwback to the
classic Disney and Tex Avery cartoons, which the film paid tribute to so
Another rumored component of Doom’s character is something
that would’ve elevated him to classic status.
Apparently, in some of the earlier drafts of the script, Doom would have
been revealed as the man who pulled the trigger on Bambi’s mother. To be the one who caused so many nightmares
and broken hearts all those years ago, Doom would have been the nastiest
villain put to celluloid just by association.
Plus, it would expertly explain his genuine distaste for toons, their
world and everything they represent without going into too much exposition. For whatever reason, the idea was dropped,
but I’m still looking for a draft to see what could have been.
Director Robert Zemeckis, in my opinion, is a director who
knows how to make unique and memorable antagonists. Just look at the Back to the Future trilogy, Beowulf, Romancing the Stone, Death Becomes Her and his numerous Tales
from the Crypt episodes to understand my point. Superior to them all, however, is Judge
Doom. A morbid, twisted toon/human
hybrid that hates both sides equally and has the power to exude as much pain as
he sees fit. He is a haunting figure, both in his sly
execution and emotionally cold motivation; a classic villainous combination if
there ever was one.