That hasn’t stopped enthusiastic fans from trying to nudge the project along with fake trailers and posters, like the fan-made effort from Mesmeretics at left. C’mom, Marvel. If fans can make something that looks that sharp, so can you.
I consider Doctor Strange to be the last major untapped Marvel property and I’m a little cranky that C-listers like Ant Man and Rocket Raccoon are making it to the silver screen before he is. It wouldn’t surprise me if Baron Mordo was behind it all, somehow.
Doctor Strange was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (the same team that created Spider-man) in 1963. He has flirted with live action versions before… there was a 1978 TV movie starring Peter Hooten, which I watched after school and thought perhaps was the coolest thing in the history of ever. In 2005 Paramount acquired the rights to Doctor Strange from Miramax and in 2008 reports surfaced that Guillermo del Toro was attached to direct and that he’d approached Neil Gaiman to do the script. Never happened.
More recently, in June 2010, Marvel Studios hired Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer, the team behind the underrated Sahara and the 2011 reboot of Conan the Barbarian, to produce a script, and in January of last year Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed that Doctor Strange would be part of “Phase Three” of the so-called Marvel Cinematic Universe. In November, he confirmed that a Doctor Strange feature is in development, but so far no additional details have emerged. And so we wait.
To be honest, I’m likely to be disappointed by a cinematic version of Doctor Strange. In my mind, there’s really only one way to approach it: as a tribute to the fantastic art of Steve Ditko, and in particular the fabulously colorful and mind-bending visual shorthand he developed to portray the dimension-hopping adventures of his sorcerer-hero.
In short, a Doctor Strange movie would have to be able to replicate the excitement that Ditko brought to those early stories, as Strange learned to navigate the twisted and bizarrely connected corridors between worlds of reality and un-reality, and the strange and mysterious realms and incredible creatures he found there.
In short, if the movie doesn’t capture the spirit of those early Lee-Ditko stories, such as Strange’s epic battles with the god-tyrant Dormammu, ruler of the Dark Dimension, or the apocalyptic threat of the Mindless Ones, I think it will have missed a huge opportunity. But bringing that kind of visual spectacle to the screen will be a monumental task.
Monumental, but not impossible. Marvel Studios proved they were capable of capturing fabulous, awe-inspiring vistas on screen in the Thor movies, with their depiction of Jack Kirby’s Asgard, which did not disappoint.
But unless you decided to set the entire film on Earth — a major mistake, in my opinion, and a waste of the franchise — then you’ll have to tackle Strange’s dimensional travels. And that’s a challenge that both excites me and frightens me. I remain unconvinced that movie makers can pull it off in a way that will satisfy me.
Nonetheless, I’m still looking forward to Doctor Strange. They call it the magic of Hollywood for a reason. I’ve been dazzled countless times by special effects in a movie theater. It’s just rare that my expectations have been this high.
May the Eye of Agamotto guide you, Marvel Studios. You’re going to need it.