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D23 is going on right now. Or it’s over? I guess it depends on when you read this. Anyway, since Disney owns half the world, it means their expo is filled with all sorts of updates on Star Wars, the yes-it-still-exists Pirates franchise, and of course the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The expected loot arrived: footage from Civil War, concept art, photos, and a few words from the creators. While all of this was, how best to describe it–intriguing?–there was only one upcoming movie that actually got me excited, that made the wait uncomfortable, that I didn’t see as the inevitable-if-anticipated continuation to this decade long story. That would be Doctor Strange.
Weird right? It seems to have the least amount of buzz. It’s not a giant name, it’s not a sequel to a previous phase movie. It’s a curve ball. So why should you be pumped too? I have two pretty good reasons.
It seems comparisons to Guardians of the Galaxy have become vogue over the last year or so, so I’ll try to keep them to a minimum. Basically, Strange shares the advantage of standing farther apart from the “core” MCU movies by necessity.
It doesn’t have built-in ties to SHIELD or Iron Man or Asgard, or any of the previous movies. It will be building a new, major pillar to the MCU: magic. Like Daredevil, it doesn’t have to force in the strange Avengers cameo or a flashback. Sure, it’ll probably have to contribute to the Thanos storyline, possibly through introducing a new Infinity Stone, but outside of that minor detail, Strange can pave its own way.
Also, it will mostly differ in scale and attitude (and tone, but we’ll get to that in a bit). The movie doesn’t seem the normal “punch-fest” superhero fare. It’ll be an adventure across dimensions, with monsters and horrors and, hopefully, Dormammus. A completely different take from the current tech-driven world. It’s not just saving the world, it’s saving reality.
Tonally, it sounds like this movie is going to be much different than what we’ve been getting the past three or four movies. According to early reports, Strange is going to be Inception-esque in its portrayal of magic and alternate dimensions, to the point where the cinematographer is calling it “Marvel’s Fantasia“. Add on to that the fact it has been described tonally as teetering on the edge of a horror movie and you have the makings of a different kind of Marvel movie.
Which is great! A part of me feels that Guardians‘ success shifted the MCU towards a lighter, more humor-focused tone. While some properties definitely benefit from that, I feel that some characters — like Civil War Captain America or Doctor Strange for instance — require a more serious approach.
Perhaps if Strange rakes in that sweet caaaaaaaash we’ll see another shift toward more material-appropriate tone. Maybe Captain America: Civil War will do that? I have my doubts, but perhaps another surprise hit from this movie will be enough.
So while I’ll see most of you at Marvel’s movies opening day, I regard most of them as inevitable eventualities. Doctor Strange, however, has got me actually excited. I can’t wait to see what they do with it, and I hope you do too.