About twice a year, we pack out theaters for Marvel movies. There’s a certain level of comfort and familiarity that comes with each. There are the iconic characters we’ve grown to know and love. There are a ton of action-packed scenes. Laughs are provided, usually via Robert Downey, Jr. This working formula is applied to every Marvel movie. Yes, every single Marvel movie.
Yesterday, AJ snuck through the back doors of the blog and provided a post that is coincidentally related to mine. Simply put, Marvel needs to loosen the hell up.
The highest praise of the Marvel extended universe can be about how they’ve established this world with many different puzzle pieces but all made them fit to make one picture. Every single detail of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is ironed out. Each piece must fit in order to make all other pieces succeed. This universe as a whole has to maintain order.
By establishing their universe first, they’ve given room to introduce not-so-popular characters as Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy.
A Black Panther movie would have been inconceivable a decade ago but it’s growing closer and closer.
Even with this pretty diverse Marvel roster, Doctor Strange still sticks out.
Even with diverse characters, they’re still put in safe and comfortable areas. Yea, no one knew about the Guardians of the Galaxy, but we know Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana. The movie has Bradley Cooper as a smart-mouthed CGI raccoon. Vin Diesel was paid ungodly amounts of money to say “I am Groot”. It was funny. Campy, yet funny. But at its core, it was a familiar story. A ragtag team fighting a hooded nemesis in outer space. Nope, never seen that before…
If you became a fan of Marvel’s characters through the movies, you will likely hate Doctor Strange. Even if end up hating Doctor Strange, that might turn out to be a good thing. Maybe Marvel heard the cries of (some) fans and are finally willing to let loose for one movie.
Note, I’m not going to go all DC stan on you and yell “THIS MOVIE IS FOR THE FANS!!!!” A) Because that’s always a ridiculously lazy excuse as to why DC movies suck B) That’s not even what I mean C) A list needs three items so this is a place filler. What I am saying is that this movie will probably hush the critics of Marvel’s one flaw.
With Marvel’s model, they haven’t had the luxury of having a standalone film, until now. There’s little room for one because each movie must tie into the larger story. Doctor Strange will surely have its easter eggs and clues to tie into the larger Avengers picture but you should prepare for a dead end. Every dot won’t be connected, every single piece of thread won’t be trimmed, every mystery won’t be explained by Bruce Banner while fidgeting with his glasses.
After years of building, Marvel has finally afforded the luxury to have a movie that could both be a bit of a genre bender and stand on its own.
The rest of the Avengers movies, while still being fantasy, are restricted by a degree of realism. Due to Dr. Banner and Tony Stark, most happenings in the Avengers movies are explained through science. Doctor Strange will take place in the mystical realm. Instead of science, the laws of this movie are bound by magic.
I’m very proud of the fact that in this movie, magic is magic. You know? We’re not trying to explain it away, and give it scientific understandability. It’s magic, and that’s what good magic does. It blows your mind because you can’t fully understand it.
-Scott Derrickson, Director
I’m sure “understandability” isn’t a real word but I’m gonna let it slide because I’m so excited. Scott Derrickson (Sinister, Exorcism of Emily Rose) is known for those horror movies you typically rent on red box but he might be the best choice for this movie. So far, Marvel has gone with safe directors. Directors who won’t mind playing by their rule. But with the recruitment of Derrickson, they will be able to mix in elements of horror with magic in this movie. This means we might finally get that “dark-tone” we’ve been longing for. Marvel can finally take its first stab at a true genre film and let the director put his spin on the character.
If you’re used to the happy go lucky light-heartedness of other Marvel movies, this might be a turnoff. Even with Age of Ultron, The Winter Soldier, and Civil War, a darker tone was teased before being pulled back. They know little Danny is in the theater watching these movies with his Captain America shirt on.
I still don’t think Doctor Strange will go all the way there, but it will go farther than any other Marvel movie. (By all the way there, I mean actually letting you see and hear bones cracking as super soldier Steve Rogers throws a man down a flight of stairs).
Another Marvel trope is sanitizing their characters to make them likable. This isn’t a total shock considering Disney owns this company. But Tony Stark’s alcoholism was reduced to a comedic scene in Iron Man II. Hank Pym abused his wife. That surely won’t fly. In their respective movies, Marvel characters are measured by the same checklist of likability.
If done correctly, the general public will hate Dr. Stephen Strange. Like most physicians, he’s an asshole. Sure, Tony Stark is an asshole too but this guy isn’t even a fake charitable asshole. It gets better, he’s an even BIGGER asshole once he gets his powers. Dr. Strange is about absolute power more so than being a savior of mankind. Even though this is a detour from any other Marvel cinematic character, it’s more than welcomed. Dr. Strange will be a unique addition to an Avengers roster that needs to be shaken up a bit . I expect him to play by his own rules and undermine the strongest two factions: Captain America and Iron Man. Of course, War Machine and Falcon have to listen to them. Can they even open a portal to another dimension bruh?
To circle back around, Doctor Strange will provide diversity in tone, genre, and characters. He’s totally different from anyone we’ve seen in this universe and this movie will be different from anything we’ve witnessed. Roll up your sleeves and dig in the dirt Marvel, you’ve earned your right to have fun.
I’ll leave you with one of the most interesting comments I’ve heard regarding the trailer: “I don’t think I’ll like Doctor Strange. It looks like it won’t make sense”.
As The Ancient One proclaims in the trailer, “Not everything makes sense…it doesn’t have to”.
So allow yourself to get lost in the mysticism and magic. It may push you out of your comfort zone as a fan of Marvel movies but know it’s for the greater good.
[You already know AJ and I will be back for a review. Stay tuned]