To quote Jerry Maguire, “We live in a cynical world, a cynical world.” As such, it is easy to crap all over the release of yet another comic book movie trailer. Look upon the talented cast and lament the amazing movies they didn’t get to make while having to settle for such an obvious paycheck gig. Openly wonder if we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel when we make a movie about a guy who can control ants (Ant-Man) or put out two movies in the same year with the exact same hero vs. hero gimmick (Batman v Superman, Captain America: Civil War). Cry foul about the nonstop parade of increasingly fake-looking CGI. Pull a Alejandro G. Inarritu and complain about pop culture enabling adults who refuse to grow up. Or come at it from a total geek perspective and point out all the things they got wrong in the transition from page to screen.
The latest example is Doctor Strange, the Scott Derickson-directed Marvel Studios film whose first trailer debuted on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night. Is this really the best use of Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton and Mads Mikkelsen’s time? What will this be, the 7th comic book movie of 2016? Also, isn’t Doctor Strange basically just Tony Stark with magic?
Uh-huh. Yeah, yeah, yeah…forget all of that right now because Doctor Strange looks amazing!
Or totally weird.
Or it just stands out so much because of its mind-bending imagery.
Sure. All of those things. Here’s the trailer:
Did you see the part where Tilda Swinton punched the, I wanna say soul, straight out of Cumberbatch? Suck it, Morpheus from The Matrix. You could never do that to Neo, and you two were fighting in a computer simulation!
OMG, so cool. But did you also see that one part where that one guy seemed to change the shape and direction of the room in front of him by simply waving his arms?
OMG, OMG, so, so cool. But did you see that Inception shot where an entire city landscape seemed to be closing in on itself?
Yeah, but what the heck is actually happening? A surgeon has a car crash, and his totally normal recovery involves traveling to some Far East land to learn magic from a bald mystic who’s not at all Asian? Plus, why in the world is Cumberbatch using an American accent? Just let the dude use his natural accent. What, if he sounds British we won’t accept him as the hero because Brits can only play bad guys? Also, how can the universe depicted in that trailer possibly be the same universe as the one Tony Stark and Steve Rogers are about to tear apart?
Hey, shut up, other side of my brain. This movie will be a national treasure, and I will hear no more sass from you. Just look at all the purdy pictures in the trailer. This is going to be the first superhero movie of the modern era possibly best enjoyed in a slightly altered state. Plus, doesn’t Marvel Studios deserve our praise for taking yet another big, universe-expanding risk? It worked for them with Guardians of the Galaxy, didn’t it? Now they’re letting their legitimately Oscar-certified cast and ambitious young director deliver yet another superhero movie which is thoroughly unlike anything else any of the other comic book movie companies are doing right now.
I’ll close with a quick note about online movie rumors: In mid-August 2014, Devin Faraci said, “Marvel’s new thing is no more origin stories. So, the Doctor Strange movie no longer has an origin story. Instead, it will pick up in medias res where Stephen Strange has already ascended to Sorcerer Supreme status.”
Except, of course, this first trailer is entirely about Stephen Strange’s origin story. Maybe those are all flashbacks, or maybe what was once true about a film production can change quite rapidly. Either way, I am frankly relieved Doctor Strange will include an origin story because I’ve never read a Doctor Strange comic book before. I currently know very little about this character beyond his appearances on Avengers Assemble and the parody of him on The Venture Bros. Marvel can get away with skipping past the origin story for its new Spider-Man movie, but for someone like Doctor Strange it’s still necessary.
Here’s Doctor Orpheus on Venture Bros.:
If you’d like to know more about Doctor Strange’s comic book history, I recommend DenOfGeek’s general overview and ComicBookResources highlighted stories. For more specific takes, I also recommend WhatCulture’s explanation of The Ancient One (Swinton’s character) and DenOfGeek’s exploration of Baron Mordo (Ejiofor’s character).
Doctor Strange will further fuck with all of our heads on November 4, 2016 (FYI, that’s my birthday). That will be an oddly magical month since WB’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is due out November 18, 2016.