By Brent Ramirez
Blog Content Contributor
By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, my body is once again ready for some more Marvel madness! Luke Cage just became available for streaming on Netflix and if my mind wasn’t already blown by that show, then consider me a pile of dust now that Marvel’s newest motion picture, “Doctor Strange”, is less than a month away from hitting theaters.
Though many people are not familiar with Strange, this character is considered to be one of the most powerful heroes in Marvel’s comic book universe, and holds a high position in Marvel’s hierarchy of super powered beings. After all, the man is in charge of managing all inter-dimensional threats. So you can only imagine the amount of power it would take to deal with those things on the daily.
Doctor Strange may be the Sorcerer Supreme, but he started out as a neurosurgeon. Stephen Strange was a man with no regard for anyone or anything except his money and himself. The character was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1963- in the appropriately titled STRANGE TALES #110 in 1963- one year after the duo created the the amazing, spectacular, sensational, friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man (sorry, I got carried away there). In his origins, Strange lost the use of his hands in a car accident, rendering him incapable of performing surgical operations. A dispirited and desperate Strange sought out ways to repair his hands, and his efforts eventually led him to seek out the legend of a mystic known as “The Ancient One.” In his journey, Strange is led to Tibet where he eventually finds the Ancient One, who he approaches skeptically. Eventually, Strange succumbs to his teachings of magic and after years of training in the mystic arts, earns the title of Sorcerer Supreme and becomes the all-powerful hero he is today.
Marvel Studios’s 14th film of the Marvel Comics Universe will tell a version of Strange’s origin and will release on November 4th, this year. It wouldn’t take a film buff to know that superhero movies are nearly played out, considering movie studios release more and more every year. While superhero film fatigue is definitely a real thing, I think Doctor Strange is definitely a film to look forward to; here are just a few reasons why:
Strange is a New Hero With New Abilities.
Stephen Strange’s affinity to magic and the mystic arts is already a huge reason to look forward to the film. We saw Elizabeth Olsen’s character Scarlet Witch conjure some form of magic, although it was not explicitly stated to be magic in either film she’s appeared in. This time Marvel has promised us the Sorcerer Supreme. Think of the character as the egomaniac that is Tony Stark, but with a power similar to Scarlet Witch’s, multiplied by an Egyptian hieroglyphic and divided by the golden ratio. That’s just how strange Strange’s powers will be, which means a new fighting style and overall combat that we have yet to see in the MCU. This new form of battle will call for some otherworldly imagery and crazy visuals, which leads me to my next point…
The film will be a visual spectacle.
Based on footage shown in the trailers alone, this film promises to deliver us a cinematic acid trip. Watching some of the scenes in the trailers was like watching parts of Christopher Nolan’s Inception through a kaleidoscope. The film has been described as “psychedelic” and if that doesn’t spell it out for you then I don’t know what will. With Strange preparing to battle all sorts of supernatural threats, it appears there won’t be a shortage on spectacle. The trailers promise an array of imagery from visual representations of magical incantations, to scenes of Manhattan folding in on itself. Seriously, check out the trailer, it’s insane.
Marvel’s proven they can handle weird and different.
Marvel Studios has had great success with their icon-headed films in Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Captain America, but they have also found success in their less popular and much more strange properties. When it was announced that Marvel Studios would be adapting the Guardians of the Galaxy into a feature film, there was a great deal of skepticism as to whether or not people would go see the film, much less have any interest of seeing a talking raccoon and sentient tree on the big screen. As it turns out, Guardians of the Galaxy became Marvel Studios’s fifth highest grossing film, only to be recently knocked down by the extraordinary Captain America: Civil War. While not as financially successful, Marvel took another gamble with their lesser known character Ant-Man, and spearheaded his own feature film, which gave us one of the funniest MCU films to date and also gave us a great hero in Paul Rudd. As difficult and risky as Doctor Strange comes off as, Marvel has already proven to their audience that they can take their B and C-list heroes and turn them into multimillion dollar box office successes.
The film boasts an all-star cast.
Marvel has made career defining performances like Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Iron Man, and has turned the unlikeliest of heroes into some of the most memorable characters in the MCU with the likes of Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man and Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord. For the most part, Marvel has done a solid job with casting in all of their films, and “Doctor Strange” is no exception. First and foremost, the film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the Sorcerer Supreme and I am beyond ecstatic about that. Cumberbatch always delivers powerful performances and based on the footage released to the public, he pulls off a Doctor Strange that seems both new and familiar at the same time. Supporting cast includes the likes of Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong and Mads Mikkelsen. There has been some controversy ever since it was announced that Tilda Swinton was cast as the Ancient One, who is typically portrayed as an elderly Asian man in the comics. Fans of the source material cried foul when they found out that the character had been gender swapped and white-washed. Marvel came back regarding the issue as a political one, with the Chinese box office and international success of the film in mind. Personally, I think Marvel’s decision to cast Swinton as the Ancient One was a great call. Despite being Asian myself, I believe Swinton’s acting is reason enough to cast her in the role. She has proven time and time again that she is able to portray androgynous and transformative characters with her roles in Constantine and the Narnia franchise. With a character like the Ancient One, I believe it can be viewed as a title passed on by many sorcerers throughout the ages, leaving the role to be rather ambiguously. All semantics aside, each cast member has a unique filmography of performances that merit them as top-tier actors, and I am more than thrilled to see what they bring to the film.
Doctor Strange will finally introduce a new side of the MCU.
Ever since Marvel Studios introduced Iron Man, their film universe has expanded to the massive multi-narrative franchise it is now. But even to this day, Marvel has yet to introduce the mystic side of the MCU. Most extraordinary characters, abilities, occurrences, etc. in the films have all been explained by science and technology. Scarlet Witch’s powers have not been explicitly said to be caused by magic and even Thor has explained his world as one where magic and science are but one, with Jane Foster commenting that magic is science that we don’t yet understand. When Doctor Strange hits theaters, that will all change as Marvel has promised us magic and supernatural as the forefront. The film will have Strange traveling across planes of existence and tearing the fabric of reality. Fans of the MCU may have already seen a glimpse of this in 2015’s “Ant-Man,” when Scott Lang traveled into the Micro-verse at the end of the film. Many rumors suggest that this dimension may be but one of countless others that Strange could navigate through. With Strange’s comic book history, the possibilities are endless.
All in all, if you’re a Marvel fan, you will understand how important this film is to the MCU and the potential it has to affect the entire Marvel machine from here on out. If you’re a superhero film fan or just a film fan in general, prepare for a movie that is sure to amaze. Doctor Strange is directed by horror director Scott Derrickson, is set to hit theaters on November 4, and has been dubbed one of the most anticipated movies of the fall and this year overall. I predict that it will not disappoint.