Marvel Studios is set to release two more movies for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. First is the much-anticipated “Captain America: Civil War” or “Avengers 2.5” which basically casts every major hero except for Thor and the Hulk. Civil War is set to open this May. Next is the Benedict Cumberbatch starrer, “Doctor Strange” which just wrapped up filming this week which will introduce moviegoers to the mystical side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Didn’t they do that on “Thor?” Yes, they did, but in a way that suggests that everything that deals with Asgard is simply yet-to-be-explained physics, thanks to Jane Foster. Marvel says that “Doctor Strange” will be more magical, bordering on a psychedelic acid trip like they did when the comic book character was first introduced. Not to be out-shadowed by Civil War, Marvel continues to amp up the hype by releasing behind-the-scenes shots of Benedict Cumberbatch and co-star Chiwetel Ejiofor in costume. Chiwetel Ejiofor is cast as the villainous Baron Mordo in the comic books.
I’m admittedly excited about this movie, maybe more so than “Captain America: Civil War” as “Doctor Strange” was one of the first Marvel heroes I got to read along with Cloak and Dagger when I was handed down issues of Strange Tales Vol. 2. The stories there were dramatic and compelling and got me hooked on the character. The Marvel Universe deals with fantastic tales of action, drama, science and of course magic so excluding Doctor Strange and other mystical elements and creatures such as vampires, and werewolves are out of the question. As shown in the hit movies “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Ant-Man,” the universe has elements and concepts that are much larger than what the human mind can comprehend.
Like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Doctor Strange” comes off as another gamble for Marvel Studios as the Sorcerer Supreme is more of an obscure character to the general population. In fact, the “Guardians of the Galaxy” are lesser known characters compared to “Doctor Strange.” Marvel, however, is raising the stakes by casting the lovable Benedict Cumberbatch from Sherlock TV Series (Sherlock Holmes), “Star Trek: Into Darkness” (Khan) and “The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug (Smaug).” Backing him up as Baron Mordo is Chiwetel Ejiofor from films such as 2012 (AdrianHelmsley), 12 Years a Slave (Solomon Northup) and The Martian (Vincent Kapoor). Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) is cast as the yet-to-be-revealed villain and Tilda Swinton (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008), “Snowpiercer” (2013), “Trainwreck” (2015)) as the unfortunately racially-shifted, gender-reversed Ancient One.
For those who don’t know the good doctor that well, get acquainted with the characters without having to read up on Wikipedia or picking up the comics (like some lucky people did in a comic book store Cumberbatch visited when the shooting wrapped up), by picking up or downloading the 2007 animated film “Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme.” No, do not flinch at the word animated. Who doesn’t love whatever Pixar rolls out in theaters? Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny were actually targeted at our adult grandparents. “Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme” is a well-made piece with a great story, a great mix of magic and martial arts as well as some good acting. I personally love the hair and costume rendition of Doctor Strange in this one as well as his dynamic with Baron Mordo. A little spoiler, his relationship with Mordo here is somewhat similar to Hal Jordan’s relationship with Sinestro in “Green Lantern.”
When I said that casting Tilda Swinton was somewhat unfortunate, it’s because Doctor Strange’s mentor, The Ancient One is originally an old Tibetan mystic. Factors such as geopolitics, feminism and diversity sometimes come into play. The Marvel Cinematic Universe does take certain liberties with storylines and supporting characters but as long as they don’t stray too much as to make the story and main characters unrecognizable (Cough! Fantastic Four! Cough!). Yes, it’s from Marvel so I’m expecting a good movie. Yes, I’m also a little bit biased since it is Doctor Strange, my favorite Marvel hero second to Ghost Rider.
“Doctor Strange” will be shown in the US this November. Hoping that “Captain America: Civil War” is as successful or even better then Winter Soldier so as not to kill the enthusiasm for more Marvel Studios films.