Identity Crisis: Marvel Hasbro Disney Toy Revelations
There’s been much publicity surrounding Marvel’s upcoming movie Dr. Strange. The best things about it so far are three of its cast. Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange; 2012’s and 12 Years a Slave’s Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo and Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen as… Kaecillius? Yes. Kaecillius is as strangely obscure as Marvel Studios can get in choosing the main villain. But the villain and plot details have so far, for some reason, been a closely guarded secret until a couple of days ago. A few weeks ago, one of the scenes and possibly one of Strange’s villain was revealed through a Lego set. But now, another set of toys, Marvel Minimates (figures that resemble Lego Men) apparently gave Mikkelsen’s identity away as obscure Dr. Strange villain Kaecillius.
Doctor Strange has been around since the 1960s so by now he has quite an extensive villain roster, many of whom are just onesies. His more notable villains include The Dread Dormammu (featured in 2007’s Doctor Strange animated film), the fear Lord Nightmare, Baron Mordo, his own brother-turned-vampire Victor Strange; interdimensional Shuma Gorath (more known for his appearance in Capcom’s Marvel Superheroes games) and even Doctor Doom. But who is Kaecillius? Marvel Studios describes him as a former disciple of the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton in this case) who has separated to form his own sect. That description best describes two supporting comic book characters Baron Mordo and Kaluu (Strange Tales Vol. 2). Kaecillius, who first appeared in Strange Tales 131 Vol. 1, is actually a disciple of Baron Mordo. More like a henchman really until he sought to try defeating Strange with two other characters Demonicus and Adria. There were two other characters in the trailer, male and female and they could be those two if parts of the movie is adapted to that Strange Tales story.
Being a simple henchman of Mordo, the choice seems odd. Could it be because of the seemingly flashy name? Marvel did say that Mordo is an amalgamation of many characters and that Mordo and possibly Kaluu was rolled into one to give Strange a trainer figure later to turn villain like Green Lantern’s Sinestro. Kaecillius might just be in name only and is another amalgamation of other lesser-known villains. Fans are mostly anticipating a greater villain to be in the movie working with Kaecillius. Speculation hints Strange’s arch-nemesis Dormammu and as mentioned, the Lego set somehow hints Shuma-Gorath (because of the tentacles). So, one closely-guarded secret to the movie is blown because of advanced release of merchandise. It’s not much of a loss really since Doctor Strange himself is pretty obscure in the eyes of the general public, even fans of Marvel since Strange appears mostly as a supporting character in other franchises like The Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man.
But now that the cat is out of the bag, Marvel fans can now look it up and scratch their heads as to what Marvel is thinking bringing up a D-list villain to be Strange’s foe in this outing. Perhaps at this point, Marvel could do no wrong because Hardcore and casual Marvel fans would watch the movie anyway and if it’s actually good will increase the viewership through word-of-mouth and positive reviews. This toy revelation does take the surprise out of the equation though and could affect fan reviews. Instead of appreciating the film outright, fans are left to wonder about the decision, as if racial-gender-bending the Ancient One hasn’t done enough damage already. The toys look great, but it’s a mistake releasing them this early on.
What’s wrong with Nat?
But it’s not the first toy mistake that Marvel/Disney committed. There’s this scene in Age of Ultron where Black Widow ejects from the Quinjet on a motorcycle but the toy says otherwise. Instead of Black Widow, Cap is riding the motorcycle. That caused some controversy. What’s wrong with Black Widow? How the heck are some forty-year-old virgins going to recreate that awesome scene where Nat picks up the shield to give to Cap who’s fighting Ultron on top of a truck? Now many adults who otherwise show no concern for toys think that the Marvel-Disney-Hasbro triumvirate is sexist. Again, what’s wrong with Nat?
Because it’s perceived that female action figures don’t sell well. Putting Nat on the Quinjet set might affect sales. Besides, cap on the bike could be recycled for the Hydra attack scene or played with as is. Then again, there’s a same-size Cap figure for sale right? There still exists the preconceived notion that boy toys are for boys and girl toys are for girls. That female action figures will be left languishing on shelves in the boys’ aisle. Movie Bumblebee Transformer toys aren’t exactly female, and there are a lot of him on shelves. The same line of thinking is also said to be the reason why there aren’t a lot of movies with female superhero leads. That and the Catwoman movie.
But there is some truth to female action figures not being as sellable as male action figures. Outside of true collectible figures, many female action figures look downright unpleasant thus dampening whatever adolescent fantasy males have for the characters they’re based on. Girls who like this stuff would feel shortchanged at the quality. For male figures, ball hips and articulated joints work better and are easily hidden due to the bulk of the muscular male physique, except for some Spider-man figures since he’s often depicted as scrawny. Female figures don’t handle these elements very well. Not being sexist. Just saying. Fortunately, newer female action figures have improved on sculpt and articulation. Again, what’s wrong with Nat? She should be a sexy 3 to five-inch mainstream action figure at this point and maybe it’s for the best that the merchandise be released a few days before or after the film or TV show.