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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Doctor Strange Is A Must Watch!


First of all, I am definitely not into sword or sorcery stuff. When I hear of wizards, magic, and spells, I expect the worst and a whole lot of lame.

I'm one of the strange, to use a pun, who didn't care much for Harry Potter and wasn't a fan of the actual Doctor Strange comics. He wasn't one of my guys when I was collecting, so I was a bit wary when Marvel announced a Doctor Strange movie.

To put it simply, it wasn't high on my excitement meter. When the first trailer came out, I thought cool and even criticized it a bit 'cause all the reality-bending special effects reminded me of Inception.

Even though I watched this opening weekend, I haven't yet written about it. I wanted it to sink in a bit.

My over-all thoughts about Doctor Strange? Amazing!

Holy moly did this movie surprise the hell out of me. If there is one thing that Marvel is doing that DC and Warner aren't, it's taking the time in developing their characters.

Not just that, though, and Marvel, much like their comics during the Silver Age, are giving us a more human experience with their characters. Sure, they're superheroes and have powers but they have "every man" struggles as well.

From Scott Lang to Iron Man and even Captain America, it seems that Marvel and Disney have captured the whole 2nd chance theme, but each seeking it due to their own circumstances and personalities. Doctor Strange does have that ingredient very much in this film as well.

Now, if you don't like spoilers, I recommend you stop reading past this sentence, because I'm going to spoil the crap outta this review here.

Unlike Ant-Man or even Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger, I immediately did not like the character of Dr. Stephen Strange. As in the comics, Strange is overly arrogant and self-centered in the film and I expected that.

However, Benedict Cumberbatch captures this arrogance perfectly. It's not a crude arrogance but one that derives from superiority of intellect. I mean, how can you really argue with someone who is right when it comes to saving lives?

In short, he is top dog in his world and profession and he damn sure knows it and makes sure that everyone else is reminded of the fact. While right and knowledgeable, Strange is definitely not savvy when it comes to the feelings of other people nor does he seem to care much.

Like mentioned before, I immediately did not like the character as was the purpose and the point in this film. It's pretty true to the comics as well.

Those who have a gift and are great at something often do grow a sense of arrogance when it comes to that, but with all things in life, it can be taken away from you anytime and without warning or notice.

I can't stand it when attractive women bitch about the woes of their beauty and how they get hit on all the time. Get disfigured in an accident to the point where you get the opposite reactions, and I bet they'll be singing another tune when it comes to that and missing the attention that was once deemed annoying.

Strange did not lose his intellect nor beauty though, but he lost the control of his hands, something he needs to be precise when doing brain surgery. So top dog falls to underdog in the blink of an eye.

Though I like stories about underdogs, did the ill-fated accident make me feel empathy for the guy? Not really. When he finally finds the Ancient One and her followers, Doctor Strange is still pretty much a disrespectful and arrogant putz.

In all honestly, I was rooting for them not to take in Stephen Strange and teach him their secrets. The thing I really have to give credit to Marvel is the humor they inject in their movies and seeing Strange try to learn magic was highly amusing.

I think that was around the time when I started rooting for the main character. He was definitely not a natural, no bad ass that somehow found his real calling in life. 

He's actually pretty terrible at it at first, and all he needs is a little opening of the mind and an attitude adjustment. The character was not just on a physical journey, he was very much on a character one, and I do mean character as in type of human being one chooses to be.

As Michael Jackson once implied in a song, the first step to changing the world is changing yourself first. Speaking of funny moments, they actually gave the Cloak of Levitation a personality? Say what? 

Yep, and the scenes where Strange first comes across this iconic magical relic from the comics was funny and a joy to watch live-action. No the Cloak did not speak, but you could see that it was a sentient being.

The Cloak of Levitation relic first appeared in Strange Tales #114, but there are actually two. The first one seen in Marvel Comics is a blue color and different one is red.

The Red Cloak of Levitation and the one we are most familiar with Doctor Strange wearing in the comics first appeared in Strange Tales #127. The issue specifically states that Strange is given a new more powerful cloak, and although it appears golden in it's debut, the same cloak is seen with its more familiar red coloring in the next issue.

This Red Cloak can change its shape to the will of whoever who wears it, and because of that, can act like a shield or an extra limb.

1st Blue Cloak of Levitation | 1st Red Cloak of Levitation

In the comics, the red cloak is seen without having its own will, and I do like that they changed this in the movie and made it an extra character.
 

In the film, the Eye of Agamotto is obviously the Time Gem, but in the comics it's quite different and has various other powers. It can radiate a mystical light that enables Doctor Strange to to see through all disguises and illusions, view past events, track ethereal and corporeal beings, weaken mystical beings from the light it gives off, probe minds, and travel through dimensions, and even levitate objects.

While the Time Gem in the MCU is first seen in the Doctor Strange flick, it first appeared and debuted in Marvel Team-Up #55 in the actual comic books and was seen in the possession of the Gardner.

Speaking of magic, the film's magic was a lot more grounded and spells actually had more to do with conjuring up actual weapons that still made the fight scenes up close and personal. No wand waving and some crap coming out to zap someone, and very little long distance fights that involved mostly energy projection hocus pocus.

Shields and blunt or sharp weapons made of energy were conjured up as well as teleportation portals, reality warping, and some very cool and humerous fight scenes in astral form. While the reality warping scenes did remind me of Inception at first, the Doctor Strange flick went one step beyond with that.

I cannot really explain it in words. It is a visual feast that you do have to see for yourself and the only word I can summon is the highly generic term, "Awesome!" I think it deserves an Oscar for special effects. 

Doctor Strange has a great cast, and the character's intertwine, weave and react to each other almost seamlessly and organically. Nothing seems forced or pushed when it comes to the characters meeting or interacting.

The Marvel films have become very much character-driven films instead of relying solely on plot pushing them towards their destiny. This is pretty evident in films like Ant-Man and Doctor Strange.

The character's are definitely built upon. Their actions seem to be motivated by their personalities and even flaws more than plot, and it seems like these actors understand this and just gel on-screen.

I know I've mentioned chemistry and dynamics between actors and the characters they play many times, but it is extremely important in a film based off a superhero comic. Marvel has done a great job of making these characters with far-fetched and amazing abilities plausible and grounded in today's reality. 

While the writers Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, and C. Robert Cargill have done an immensely great job piecing this tale together, the actors have also done a wonderful job making it believable and bringing the audience into this world.


As mentioned before, Benedict Cumberpatch nailed his performance as Marvel's Sorcerer Supreme.


Rachael McAdams is great in the role of Christine Palmer, ex co-worker and loyal friend of Stephen Strange. In the comics, Christine Palmer started out as a supporting character for the character of Linda Carter.

Carter would eventually become Night Nurse, and Christine Palmer would debut in the first issue of Night Nurse #1. In the film, Christine Palmer is a doctor instead of a nurse.

I think McAdams is gorgeous, but she does have plenty of acting chops. In her role in this movie, she does add quite a bit of humor while playing it straight at the same time, but in a hum-drum role of just playing the "love interest", McAdams definitely stands out and makes the character more than just that.

The biggest surprise was Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius. Mikkelsen is definitely adept at playing a heavy and has done so to perfection plenty of times before. However, what was surprising was the actual character of Kaecilius.


In the comics, Kaecilius is less impressive and basically a wooden henchmen for Baron Mordo with very, very little personality. Actually, the minion doesn't even appear all that much in comics and is pretty forgettable. His 1st appearance is in Strange Tales #130.

In the movie, Kaecilius is the leader of the baddies who has found out that the Ancient One holds a secret and has had a falling out with her. Of course, he wants to do the bad thing, but he doesn't see it that way like most good villains don't. He is a bad ass in the flick, and without much to go on concerning actual comic research, I think Mads really created this character and made it his own.

Kaecilius is still a minion of sorts for the main baddie, but I don't want to spoil that. You'll see what I mean when you watch, and while I did think the climatic scene of the film between Strange and this main baddie was pretty cool, I did have beef with the way the baddie was translated visually.

I'll give you a hint, it was sort of like the way Galactus was portrayed in the 2nd Fantastic Four movie, and also how Parallax was done in Green Lantern. That's seriously my only huge beef about the flick, but I still have one with a certain casting choice that I won't get into again.

As for Chiwetel Ejiofor, is a good Baron Mordo for what the MCU has created, and I actually like the version of the character on the big screen better than in the early Doctor Strange comics. He will definitely not be just a typical comic book super-villain, and I can almost relate to why he will eventually go down the bad guy route.

In short, the Marvel Cinematic Universe definitely humanized him and is building on the character that will eventually become the villain we all know of in the comics. Mordo is one of the most iconic and popular of Doctor Strange villains. Just like in the film, Mordo was an apprentice of the Ancient One and debuted in Strange Tales #111. He is present in Doctor Strange's 1st origin story told in Strange Tales #115.


However, his turn to the other side is different from the film. In the comics, he clearly was up to no good from the very beginning and just a guy hell-bent on gaining power.

As for Strange's origin from panel to screen, it was pretty faithful to the comic version with some needed embellishments here and there.



I am looking forward to how the villainy of Baron Mordo develops in the future of the franchise.

In the case of Wong played by Benedict Wong, the character was written just as I expected, and he (the character) is pretty wooden and pretty forgettable.  Least he wasn't a man-servant though like he is in the comics.

Wong debuted in Strange Tales #110, a long with the 1st appearance of Doctor Strange himself. The Ancient One also debuts in that issue as well, or does he?

Well, that brings in another retcon that happened years after the fact. For those who have read this site for a while, you know how I feel about retconned 1st appearances, but for those who don't, I usually think they're garbage.

A creator introduces a character at a certain time and a future writer can magically connect that character to a previous and mostly obscure other comic character before that introduction?  Not to mention that previous character who was retconned as being the same character in a later comic series and issue have different creators.


I don't buy it, but it was done for Misty Knight and looks like it was done for the Ancient One as well. Although some are starting to state that the Ancient One's 1st appearance is in Amazing Adventures #1 from the 1961 series in the Doctor Droom story, I just can't get on board that train.

So here's the story. Doctor Droom has been seen as the pro-type character for Doctor Strange. As Stan Lee stated, "I always liked [Doctor Droom], but I forgot about him. It was a one-shot thing. And one day while we were trying to think of some new heroes, I thought I'd like to bring back a magician. And I gave him the name Doctor Strange ..."


So Droom was before Doctor Strange, but not Doctor Strange. However the Ancient One is apparently the character in the Doctor Droom mythos after the fact.

Who is the culprit behind this retcon? It was done by Roy Thomas and supposedly the lama from the Droom story was none other than the Ancient One of the Doctor Strange mythos. This revelation happened in Avengers Spotlight #37 in 1990.

So Stan Lee & Steve Ditko created the Ancient One who first debuted in Strange Tales #110, but Doctor Droom and the lama in the Amazing Adventures story was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Does Jack Kirby get the credit also now for the character of the Ancient One?

I didn't think so. In order not to create confusion between Doctor Doom and Doctor Droom, the character was brought back in Weird Tales #19 in 1971 but was named Dr. Druid instead. That comic is a reprint of the story in Amazing Adventures #1 with the name of the main character different.

So that's the evolution of Doctor Druid in the comics, and the retconned connection between him and the Ancient One. Like I've mentioned before and despite retcons, the real debut of the Ancient One is in Strange Tales #110 and the character was created by Lee & Ditko. Amazing Adventures #1 is a retconned 1st appearance of the Ancient One.

I don't buy into retconned 1st appearances, but you might. I actually think they're annoying. 'Nuff said!

Back to this film, however. My over-all persective on Doctor Strange? It has made my list of Top Ten comic movies, and is definitely a wild ride of fun backed by a good script with lots of visual treats.

Kudos to director Scott Derrickson as well for bringing this vision to life. I think it is a must watch, but that's just my opinion. What did you all think?

For all my fellow Americans, have a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! In the wise words of LK, rock on!





10 comments:

  1. Hey Mayhem! Great Movie! I also, was not a fan of Harry Potter, or even much of a Doctor Strange fan, but this movie kicked ass! I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. ROCK ON!!! lk

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    1. I was really surprised with this one for sure. I went in not knowing really what to expect, but leaned more towards, "This is gonna suck." I really think this film had all the right elements. Much appreciation to the cast and crew of this film. You could tell they put in a lot of effort to make Doctor Strange a kick ass film.

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  2. Sorry, no time for movies. Gotta report on something though. I have to admit - I did it. Finally I bought me a copy of Batman Adventures 12. Probably one of my highest investments. I payed 250 bucks including shipping for a raw copy. My first examination would let me say it' s a 9.2 - 9.4 edition. What do you think - crazy or not? I have mixed feelings about this and I better not tell my wife: 250 for a modern age book?! Unbelievable.

    Ace

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    1. Hmmm...well, CGC 9.0s are selling around the $400 range. 9.2 CGCs are bouncing around the $400 to $500 range as well. 9.4s are in the $500 range since late October. 9.8s were commanding 2k more most of this year but the book has seemed to fizzle slightly since Oct.

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  3. Hey Doc Strange Lovers,

    Mr. Rebo here with 2 comic phenomenoms. First up: Venom Space Knight 13 - recently it was reported that this baby had a ridicilous low print run of 14.000, which makes it one of the scarcest Venom books. Second runner up: Daredevil 505 (2010). Just this day I found a Deadpool Variant of this comic on ebay which I have never seen before and which is not listed in Overstreet. Must be scarce as hell. The seller on ebay demands over 50 bucks. Mayhem, have you heard about this one?

    Max Rebo

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    1. 1:15 Deadpool variant. Regular cover isn't a high print run and estimated at 38,693. I figure the 1:15 would be around 2,500 to 2,600.

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  4. Love how they referenced the (living tribunal) , well his weapon... great movie mayham!!

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    1. Lots of cool surprises with this flick. I am hoping Wonder Woman gives me the opportunity to write a positive review on the DC side of things.

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  5. Love how they referenced the (living tribunal)... well at least his weapon. Movie rocked mayhem!!

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  6. I'm not a fan of him either but Dr Strange's Cape was really funny in the movies, almost gave a deadpool funny twist.

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