In recent interviews Kevin Feige, President of Production at Marvel Studios, has been talking about Doctor Strange, The Master of the Mystic Arts. Feige, the front man for the recent successes coming from Marvel properties including Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, and most recently Iron Man 3, gave all of us a possible glimpse into the future. He said, “Dr. Strange is something that I talk about often and it’s sort of next up for us to dig into and explore. Our executive producer of Iron Man 3, having done Captain America: The First Avenger and as that was finishing he started working on the bones that would become Iron Man 3, and now that he’s finished with Iron Man 3, he’s working on the bones that would become Doctor Strange. Now that Iron Man 3 is finished, some of our quote-unquote spare time is going to be devoted to trying to crack Strange.”
Cracking Strange might be easier said than done. The story would have to be dark, gritty, and magical. No offense to the highly popular book and movie series, but this cannot be Harry Potter with blue pajamas. Co-created by legendary writer-editor Stan Lee and artist/co-plotter Steve Ditko, the character debuted in Strange Tales #110 in July 1963. He primarily fought against otherworldly, or under-worldly villains. Strange Tales at that time was not your typical superhero fare. It featured characters like Nick Fury and the Human Torch in addition to the Sorcerer Supreme. Over the last three decades the good Doctor has bounced around the Marvel Universe in various solo-series and team books. Most recently he has been spending most of his time with the New Avengers incarnations both by Brian Michael Bendis (2005), and the current version written by Jonathan Hickman (2012).
A Doctor Strange movie would certainly diverge from the usual heroic epics of recent Marvel Studios offerings. Strange is not the brute hero, nor is he the tech-savvy wise guy, or the teen wit struggling with the responsibility of great power. He is a dead-serious, workaholic protector of Earth from supernatural incursion. He spends his free time accumulating artifacts of power, like the Cloak of Levitation, the Eye of Agamotto, the Book of the Vishanti, and the Orb of Agamotto, to keep them from being used against the world by demons and evil sorcerers. Come to think of it, the theft of those artifacts and use of them by a malevolent being would be a pretty good start to a story [note to self]. Strange would be considerably weaker without the powerful artifacts and his nemesis, likely The Dread Dormammu, would certainly seem to have an advantage [scene].
Dormammu, as created by Lee and Ditko, became Doctor Strange’s most recurring and single-minded villain, almost by accident. The pair originally created his name and realm as just a way of “adding depth to the other-worldly nature of Strange’s adventures”. The readers had other ideas. Their insistence on speculating as to who the mysterious Dormammu was, encouraged the creative duo to flesh out the villain and bring him to life. For the next 50 years he has consistently attempted to lie, cheat, steal, and betray the Sorcerer Supreme, and has met with some limited success. His inclusion in a Strange based movie would be almost assured. His demonic look, flaming visage, and the Dark Dimension that he rules would all be tremendous on the big screen.
A Doctor Strange movie, if made, would likely fall into what Marvel Studios terms Phase 3 [of their plan for Box Office domination]. Phase 2 began with a bang, or several hundred, just over a week ago when Iron Man 3 debuted and is planned to end with Avengers 2 in 2015. Phase 3 will then begin with a surprising choice in Ant Man, also in 2015. Doctor Strange seems likely to follow Ant Man or Guardians of the Galaxy 2, if it’s debut next year warrants a sequel. With the better part of three years to plan, plot, and execute this story, the brain trust at Marvel should come up with another epic in Doctor Strange.