Doctor Strange trailer: Marvel goes mystical for the win

Doctor Strange Ancient One

Marvel just released its first trailer for Doctor Strange, and once again the world has been reminded just how laughable it was for Steven Spielberg to say superhero movies are primed to go “the way of the Western.”

Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange and Tilda Swinton look ready to launch yet another franchise in what will be a welcome change of pace for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Doctor Strange NYC

The narration to the trailer gives fans a good glimpse of what they can expect from director Scott Derrickson’s take on The Sorcerer Supreme.

Ancient One: You’re a man looking at the world through a keyhole. You’ve spent your life trying to widen it. Your work saved the lives of thousands. What if I told you that reality is one of many?

Strange: I don’t believe in fairytales about chakras or energy or the power of belief.

Ancient One: You wonder what I see in your future? Possibility. … There are other ways to save lives … so much you don’t know.

Strange (after being introduced to the spirit world): Teach me.

Nothing can make this blogger — a man of faith, a lucid dreamer, and a fan of meditation — happier than to see Marvel Studios utilize a hero who travels to different dimensions, the spirit world, etc.

Doctor Strange

At the start of the trailer an unknown person (Perhaps Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo?) says: “Stephen Strange, might I offer you some advice? Forget everything that you think you know.”

If that is the message at the heart of Doctor Strange, and it is coupled with Inception-like special effects, then Marvel Studios will have one heck of a movie in theaters on Nov. 4, 2016.

Marvel’s creative well is much deeper than the average moviegoer realizes, and the successful introduction of Steve Ditko’s character to a wide audience will help ensure that it is tapped for many years to come.

What are your thoughts on the new Doctor Strange trailer? Let me know in the comments section below.

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Cumberbatch says ‘F–k the politicians,’ goes home to mansion; actor silent on Sumte, Germany

Benedict Cumberbatch

Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” is acting mighty peculiar when it comes to the millions of migrants from the Middle East and northern Africa flooding into Europe. Benedict Cumberbatch says politicians aren’t doing enough, which is odd considering towns like Sumte, Germany (population: 100), have been ordered to accept 750 migrants.

The Hollywood Reporter details what the actor is telling audiences after his “Hamlet” performances in London:

Benedict Cumberbatch spontaneously shared a message onstage: “F— the politicians.”

The actor, currently starring in Hamlet on the West End, made the comment on Tuesday during his now-regular post-performance plea for support of the Syrian refugee crisis, according to the Telegraph.

While asking for donations from London’s Barbican Theatre stage, he also called it an “utter disgrace of the British government” for not doing more to pacify the crisis.

What does Mr. Cumberbatch suggest British officials do? Should they mimic Germany and open the door to 800,000 migrants before the end of the year? Should they dive head-first into militarily action in Syria and Iraq? Like most actors who wade into public policy debates, he avoids specifics. Detailed plans are not conducive to feel-good platitudes or telling others to “f–k” themselves.

Syrian migrants

The New York Times reported Oct. 31:

In early October, the district government informed Sumte’s mayor, Christian Fabel, by email that his village of 102 people just over the border in what was once Communist East Germany would take in 1,000 asylum seekers.

His wife, the mayor said, assured him it must be a hoax. “It certainly can’t be true” that such a small, isolated place would be asked to accommodate nearly 10 times as many migrants as it had residents, she told him. “She thought it was a joke,” he said.

But it was not. Sumte has become a showcase of the extreme pressures bearing down on Germany as it scrambles to find shelter for what, by the end of the year, could be well over a million people seeking refuge from poverty or wars in Africa, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

In a small concession to the villagers, Alexander Götz, a regional official from Lower Saxony, told them this week that the initial number of refugees, who start arriving on Monday and will be housed in empty office buildings, would be kept to 500, and limited to 750 in all.

Before Mr. Cumberbatch retires to his mansion in a gated community, or heads off for a beach vacation on the other side of the world, he says “F–k the politicians” — but that apparently doesn’t pertain to European politicians who are fundamentally transforming entire towns overnight.

Sumte

One a scale of 1-to-10, with 1 being “I love Jews,” and 10 being “Kill the Jews,” what will the town of Sumte, Germany’s average score be with its news residents?

On a scale of 1-to-10, with 1 being, “Gay people should be treated with dignity and respect,” and 10 being, “Kill gay people,” what will the town of Sumte,Germany’s average score be with its new residents?

On a scale of 1-to-10, with 1 being, “I love Benedict Cumberbatch,” and 10 being, “I don’t know Benedict Cumberbatch, but if he’s an infidel then he should probably die,” what will the town of Sumte, Germany’s average score be with its new residents?

Towns all across Europe aren’t just being asked to take in a few migrants here and there — they are literally being culturally upended. Citizens of small towns in Germany and Austria and Hungary are now cultural minorities, and they are supposed to like it.

Indeed, European politicians like German Chancellor Angela Merkel should certainly be excoriated for their handling of the refugee crisis, but not for doing “too little.”

Cumberbatch’s “Hamlet” is playing in London’s West End. Perhaps London should take in enough migrants so that Londoners are outnumbered 7-to-1 by men and women from Syria, Libya, and northern Africa. Then we can fast-forward in time 20 years and see if the local population still appreciates Shakespeare and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

My guess is that Mr. Cumberbatch would live far away from such a cultural reality.

Marvel nails it again: Benedict Cumberbatch is Doctor Strange

Benedict Cumberbatch AP

Did Marvel Studios make a deal with Mephisto? On top of all its previous box office success, the excitement for The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and securing Robert Downey Jr. for a few more films, it now has Benedict Cumberbatch playing Doctor Strange.

The Hollywood Reporter confirmed Oct. 27:

After months of speculation, Doctor Strange has been found.

Benedict Cumberbatch is in negotiations to take on the titular role in Marvel’s film, slated for release on July 8, 2016. …

Cumberbatch comes with an incredibly large fan base thanks to his Sherlock show and impeccable dramatic cred. And with The Imitation Game shaping up to be a major awards contender this season, a best actor nomination (or more) could also be on his curriculum vitae.

Scott Derrickson is directing the Marvel feature, which centers on a former neurosurgeon who serves as the Sorcerer Supreme — the primary protector of Earth against magical and mystical threats.

If there is a downside to casting Mr. Cumberbatch, then I can’t see it. He’s a great actor. He has a ton of range, his fans will turn out for him in droves — and women love him.

Doctor Strange has two big question marks, but even those aren’t as worrisome as they would be with other big budget films because Marvel has such a wealth of material to draw from:

    • Can Scott Derrickson, director of Sinister (2012), deliver the goods?
    • Will writer Thomas Dean Donnelly up his game, or will he give the world another Sahara (2005)?

In both instances, previous creative minds working for Marvel have done much of the heavy lifting for Messrs. Derrickson and Donnelly. A world doesn’t need to be created from scratch, they can glean the best elements of time-tested stories, and the Marvel “brand” ensures plenty of people will see it based on the studio’s reputation alone.

On top of that, ask yourself this question: Will Doctor Strange make his first appearance after the credits in Captain America 3, or will he have a cameo in Iron Man 4? The creative options open to Marvel at this point are endless.

I was considered a bit of an odd kid for knowing who Doctor Strange was in 1987, so it is extremely satisfying to know that the world will be properly introduced to the character in 2016. All good things come to those who wait.