Tag Archives: MCU

Doctor Strange: Movie Review

I saw Doctor Strange two Fridays ago. While it was definitely a good movie, well made, it definitely didn’t have me jumping out of my seat begging for more.

In a cinematic universe such as Marvel’s MCU, where the audience have come to expect larger and larger action sequences, a movie with relatively mild action and no explosions barely registers as a blip on the radar. That doesn’t mean that Doctor Strange was in anyway a let down. Marvel has beat the action movie drum long enough and I think they have come to terms with the fact that it may be time to try a new route, and Doctor Strange is definitely their biggest step in this new re-branding.

With over a dozen movies already released, plus five television shows, it was only a matter of time before Marvel started recycling some of their material. Doctor Strange to me seemed like a blend of Iron Man and Thor: The Dark World. They combined the character development and personal tale of Tony Stark with the overall story and tone of TTDW.

Meet Dr. Stephen Strange. A very successful, highly educated, self-absorbed dick who doesn’t respect his coworkers or those closest to him, and seemingly has no family to speak of. He’s a 1%er who drives expensive German cars, lives in a New York penthouse, and thinks he’s just God’s gift to man. Sound familiar? Let’s push forward. Said character gets into a horrible accident that physically maims him, and threatens his ability to return to his former life. Desperation and necessity beget progress, and our antagonist discovers their true calling.

Moral of the story: Don’t text and drive. Or maybe DO text and drive and then after dodging paralysis you might end up getting magical powers and your own movie!

The story moves like Thor: The Dark World in that the main antagonist isn’t trying to conquer the world, he’s trying to destroy it, himself included. There’s also a lot of instant teleporting from one place to the next. In TTDK this was caused by the convergence, and our hero was constantly swooping from one place or dimension to the next in the midst of battle. In Doctor Strange, our hero and company chase and are chased by the villains from one portal to the next, hop scotching across the city and world in Scooby doo fashion.

And that’s pretty much the movie. Despite the mystic allure of the movie and the exotic aroma the advertising gave off, the movie itself is pretty straight forward. It was pretty easy to follow. The story was linear with no detours. No twists. No turns. No tangents. The people you thought were good were good, and the bad guys were actually bad. No fake Mandarins or Obadiah Stane gotchas.

Pretty much everything you thought was going to happen, happened. An 8 year old could have guessed how the story was going to end after the first 20 minutes. Again, I am not trying to smack down the movie. It had great acting, great casting, great wardrobe, setting, effects, dialogue, etc. and the expected MCU quips to keep you chuckling. It just wasn’t grade-A original like Iron Man, Winter Soldier, or Guardians.

There isn’t anything bad to say about this movie. There also isn’t anything to brag about. Marvel made a solid, entertaining movie that will easily turn a profit, result in plenty of children’s toys and nerd swag, and which will bridge the gap between Civil War and the next Avengers installment and keep the MCU franchise churning forward.

Would I watch Doctor Strange again? Sure, why not. Would I purchase the DVD? Naw, but it would be a cool Christmas present maybe.

Post Script

One small grievance I have is not necessarily with this movie, but with what I consider to be an anachronism on Marvel’s part. Way back when, two and a half years ago in Captain America: Winter Soldier, Hydra agent Jasper Sitwell while being interrogated by Cap, Falcon and Black Widow spilled the beans on Zola’s plan for world domination and in the process rattled off a few names of people that would be targeted for death by the helicarriers once active. Among those names was Stephen Strange aka Doctor Strange. At first glance I suspected that perhaps the events of Doctor Strange actually took place prior to the events of Winter Soldier and that this was simply a slightly out of place side-quel that Marvel would simply weave back into the fold.

Viewers dorkier than I noticed that in Doctor Strange there were awards dated 2016 which confirmed the story itself takes place in current times, and several years after the events of CAWS.

So then what’s the deal with Sitwell name dropping Stephen Strange years before he was the sorcerer supreme of Earth?

Well, some people have supposed that Zola’s algorithm didn’t just find people that are currently problematic to Hydra but that might be down the road, and that Stephen Strange simply fit the bill as a potential pain in the ass. Possibly. But of the 7 billion people in the world who could pose a threat, I find it odd that Sitwell- a high ranking SHIELD and Hydra member would recall an apparent nobody by heart, especially when neither Cap, Black Widow, nor Falcon would know who the hell Stephen Strange even is. Sitwell name dropped Bruce Banner because the hulk at the time of CAWS was clearly on Hydra’s radar and was someone anyone in the world would likely have known by name, an additionally was close friends with the Avengers. To immediately follow up Bruce Banner with an apparent nobody??? I call bullshit.

This boils down to three theories:

  • Jasper Sitwell for whatever reason memorized the name of some random d-bag doctor no one knows or cares about. (unlikely)
  • Stephen Strange was already the sorcerer supreme of Earth at the time of CAWS (my guess) and someone at Marvel *oops forgot* about the earlier name drop, and messed up in Doctor Strange (also my guess)
  • It was simply an innocent Easter egg not intended to be anything more than a crowd pleaser (annoying, and not like Marvel to do)

At this point it really doesn’t matter, but it did irk me the night I saw it in theaters.

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What’s Next for Marvel MCU

When I speak of Marvel in this blog, I am speaking exclusively about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which encompasses the movie/film franchises owned by Disney.

Just Happened

Just this month, Marvel released their Netflix original series Daredevil which focuses on Matt Murdock, the lawyer turned vigilante who fights crime in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Just several days old and the series already has a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes (certified fresh) from critics, and a 98% from audiences. After binge watching the entire series myself, I give the show a 9 / 10, and you can read my review here.

About to Happen

But an entire series being released in one day isn’t enough, not for Marvel and Disney who have quite the roller coaster planned for fans over the next several months, and years.

Next month, one of the most anticipated movies of the year comes out, Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Audiences have waiting three years for the big four to team up again on the silver screen, and Marvel is repaying that anticipation with interest. The next Marvel cinematic installment will have Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Nick Fury, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Maria Hill from the previous Avengers, and they’ll be adding to the roster Quicksilver, Scarlett Witch, Vision, War Machine, Falcon, and let’s not forget Ultron. And these are just the ones we know about. Who knows what tricks Marvel has up its’ sleeve.

And Then…

Then just a few weeks later Marvel is broadening the MCU with the theatrical release of Ant Man starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas. While the name is not very inspiring, and most non comic book fans won’t know who this is, Ant Man is a very important keg in the Marvel machine. In the comics, the original Ant Man, Hank Pym, is responsible for creating the maniacal villain Ultron.

The commonly accepted narrative right now is that the story is being rewritten so that Tony Stark is credited for screwing over the world. However with Ant Man the movie following so closely on the heels of Age of Ultron, I suspect there might be more to the story than we’ve been told. My guess is that the central Ant Man characters will be revealed in Age of Ultron and somehow tied into his origins – meaning Marvel isn’t simply broadening their universe, they are entangling it.

Let’s Not Forget About TV

Enough with the silver screen, let’s get back to TV land for a second. If you’ve learned anything about Marvel over the past decade, it’s that they don’t flash and fizzle. Daredevil is the first Netflix series they’ve made, but it is by no means the only one. In fact, a quick look at IMDB would reveal that Charlie Cox will be reprising his role as the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen again in another Netflix series The Defenders – Netflix’s shot at their own Superhero team up.

By 2016, Netflix and Marvel intend to release four series in total – I am sure with more on the way. The first three shows are Daredevil, Luke Cage, and A.K.A. Jessica Jones. The title characters of those shows will then join up and form The Defenders – Marvel’s television comeback to the Avengers – a group of heroes starring in a fourth Netflix show of the same name. This is huge news, because in the next year, the number of Marvel/Disney franchises will mushroom 50% from the current tally of eight, up to 12.

Risk Taking

Marvel is doubling down on a recipe that has already worked for them when they tied together four franchises for 2012’s Avengers. Will it work out for them on TV like it did in theaters? Time will tell.

But all of this is working towards something even bigger. As we all know, Captain America: Civil War is just around the corner which will focus on the fictional Superhero Registration Act from the comics several years ago. With only about a year to go, can audiences expect all the familiar faces both old and new to take sides in the divisive and controversial tug-of-war between Captain America/Steve Rogers and Iron Man/Tony Stark?

Audiences will get tired of the same old routine of splitting apart and bringing back together the four Avengers every couple years to fight the Bad Guy of the Week. My guess is Marvel is well aware of this, which means that in order to keep the party going they’re going to need to up the stakes. Expect to see an ever increasing number of heroes flying around and blasting their way through Earth and the cosmos.

Spider-Man

And to top it all off, Marvel and Sony have reached a nail biting agreement, which will allow Marvel to feature Spider-Man in their movies. Fans are happier than ever that Disney magic can breathe some fresh life into the Spidey saga that thus far has inspired no awe even after two relaunches in the past decade. The big question on nerds’ minds now, is will there be enough time to write Spiderman into the Civil War moving coming out in 2016? In the comics Peter Parker played a huge role in the events of the Civil War story arc, so fingers crossed Kevin Feige can work the web slinger in artistically.

Distant Future

Here is a timeline of recent events and events to come in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

  • 2010-April-10: [Netflix Series]Daredevil series airs on Netflix
  • 2015-May-01: Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • 2015-July-17: Ant-Man
  • 2015-Sep-Late: [TV Series] Agents of Shield: Season 3
  • 2015 Unknown: [Netflix Series] A.K.A. Jessica Jones
  • 2015 Unknown: [Netflix Series] Iron Fist
  • 2016-May-06: Captain America: Civil War
  • 2016-Nov-04: Doctor Strange
  • 2016 Unknown: [Netflix Series] Luke Cage
  • 2016 Unknown: [Netflix Series] Defenders
  • 2017-May-05: Guardians of the Galaxy 2
  • 2017-July-28: Thor Ragnarok
  • 2017-Nov-3: Black Panther
  • 2018-May-4: Avengers: Infiniti War Part I
  • 2018-July-6: Captain Marvel
  • 2018-Nov-2: Inhumans
  • 2019-May-3: Avengers: Infiniti War Part II

And with Marvel brass saying they have plans out to 2028, we can expect years – no – decades of more fun.

Who are your Favorite Marvel MCU Characters?