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Retro Review: Doctor Strange

Retro Review: Doctor Strange

This is our MarvelBlog Retro Review of Doctor Strange…and there’s a Marvel character I’m not sure we’re supposed to like.

In fact, during the first season of What If…?, this character turns heel and almost devours the multiverse. Does that sound like a hero to you?

Source: Marvel Studios

Yes, Stephen Strange has always danced dangerously close to the flames, which explains why he has such a divisive reputation among Marvel fans.

In today’s retro review, I will re-evaluate Doctor Strange, which is somehow one of my least favorite MCU movies while possessing one of the best climaxes.

Source: Marvel Studios

Tony Stark by Another Name

Preternaturally gifted. Impossibly arrogant. Super-rich playboy.

All these words could describe Tony Stark, the self-professed Iron Man whose charisma anchored the first generation of the MCU.

Photo: Marvel

If it ain’t broke, why fix it? That’s the underlying thought process behind Doctor Strange, as all those same generalities apply to Stephen Strange…and Batman.

Don’t mistake the point here. Bruce Wayne debuted decades ahead of these characters, and his influence remains unmistakable in Marvel even now.

Hall of Armor Photo: Marvel Studios

In fact, an upcoming MCU series, Moon Knight, will introduce a third character along these lines. So, Marvel believes the system works.

With Doctor Strange, the story shows how thin the line between darkness and light is, especially for potentially evil sorcerers.

Source: Marvel Studios

The villain in the piece is Master Kaecilius, a former student of the Ancient One who has since decided he would like ultimate power for his own.

If that means beheading a few librarians, so be it. He’s saving a fortune on late fees, too.

The idea here centers on the dangers of blatant power grabs by evil wizards, something any videogame player understands.

Source: Marvel Studios

However, the unlikely person to stop Kaecilius is a muggle surgeon named Stephen Strange.

He has it all, including a girlfriend who starred in The Notebook and a sports car that you probably can’t even afford in Forza, much less real life.

Doctor Strange also employs the “rebel who plays by his own rules” cliché. A different surgeon at the hospital hates the good (?) doctor and rails against his practices.

Marvel’s DOCTOR STRANGE..Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch)..Photo Credit: Film Frame ..©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Because of the rules of Hollywood, the less attractive, rules-oriented person is obviously in the wrong, even though literally every criticism he makes of Strange is valid.

That’ll teach you to follow the rules and not be naturally handsome, Poindexter!

Dude’s even named Nicodemus. Come on!

Source: Marvel Studios

The Disruption

Arrogant protagonists in fancy sports cars have a 100 percent chance of car crashes in Hollywood. It’s ironclad celluloid law.

Sure enough, Icarus flies too close to the sun while looking at a patient’s x-ray on his iPad. Soon, he’s in surgery himself and awakens to discover his hands destroyed.

Photo: Vanity Fair

Therein ends the surgical career of one Stephen Strange. Of course, like so many of us during The Great Resignation, the doctor finds a new career path.

He learns of a mystical place known as Kamar-Taj, where he might find a cure for his affliction.

Unbeknownst to Strange, he meets The Ancient One, who serves him tea and holistic logic. Also, Mordo is there.

Source: Marvel Studios

You can think of him as a self-loathing sorcerer who does magic but wants to see all magic eliminated from the universe. It’s the MCU equivalent of those heinous conversion therapy camps.

In a huge, shocking twist, Mordo will turn heel by the end of this film. And if you’re surprised by that, I don’t know how you get out of bed in the morning. The rising sun must blow your mind.

Anyway, we get lots of mystical crap wherein Strange gets his soul literally knocked out of his body, an Ancient One specialty.

Source: Marvel Studios

He also transverses the universe, watches stars explode, and rotates in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The whole thing is basically a Pink Floyd show at the planetarium, and you’re chasing the dragon. HARD.

Doctor Strange earned an Academy Award nomination for its visual effects and legitimately should have won over Jungle Book.

Source: Marvel Studios

Doctor Strange vs. the People with Bad Eye Makeup

The story, on the other hand, is decidedly lesser Marvel. I just cannot get past how predictable and paint-by-numbers it is.

I suspect that director Scott Derrickson recognized this fact and tried to disguise the problem through the glinty special effects.

Photo: IMDb

The casting also helps. I’ve been on the Tilda Swinton bandwagon ever since The Deep End, which I ranked in my top three for 2001.

She’s never been more entertaining or decidedly commercial than during her time in the MCU. She IS the Ancient One and makes the character compelling.

Even though Mordo isn’t fully developed as a frenemy, Chiwetel Ejiofor is one of the greatest living actors and chews the scenery here.

Source: Marvel Studios

I’d like to say that the incredibly talented Rachel McAdams is more than just The Girlfriend here, but I cannot tell that lie.

If you want to watch her act, you should pick Spotlight or Disobedience instead. She’s also terrific in Red Eye, an underrated suspense thriller.

Of course, the story lives and dies with Benedict Cumberbatch. He has since made Stephen Strange his own so much that nobody ever talks about replacing him.

Photo: Marvel Studios

I mean, we’ve got new Hawkeyes and Captain Americas and Black Widows and even a new Sorcerer Supreme. Doctor Strange remains proprietary.

This cast is so good that Michael Stuhlbarg, Benedict Wong, and Mads Mikkelson are almost incidental to it…and Mikkelson is playing the villain in the piece!

Speaking of which, Marvel continues its trend of one bad guy with several faceless underlings, only the underlings have faces this time. And terrible eye makeup.

I guess the idea is that all the evil has sucked the souls out of their bodies through their eyes or something? I dunno. It’s weird and silly and hard to take seriously.

The Salvation of Doctor Strange

Source: Marvel Studios

You can tell that I have MANY problems with Doctor Strange. Even so, I love two scenes in the film.

One involves the surgery McAdams’ character performs on Strange, the one with astral projection. It’s funny.

Also, as far as secret identity reveals go, it’s definitely the most unusual one to date. And the falling mop at the end is a REALLY good joke.

 

Source: Marvel Studios

Then, we watch as the Ancient One accepts her fate and passes into the next plane of existence. It’s profound, especially because she wants to watch the snow.

How relatable is that? We all prioritize those singular moments of beauty.

Still, everyone realizes what matters most in Doctor Strange. It’s the odd negotiation between Dormammu and the Sorcerer Supreme.

Photo: Forbes

Derrickson’s directorial career started with horror, as that’s where he made his bones. So, it’s fitting that he would choose a Lovecraftian monster for the end.

Strange flies into some unimaginable alien realm, the Dark Dimension, and then…dies repeatedly. The cartoon violence in these sequences is hysterical.

Somehow, Dormammu becomes the victim of this story, trapped in a time loop of murder. The fact that he’s the perpetrator, not the victim, proves irrelevant.

Source: Marvel Studios

Dormammu has lost his power and control in the Dark Dimension, and that’s what matters.

Eventually, the god-like entity capitulates because of nothing more than the concept of time.

Meanwhile, the thematic nature of Doctor Strange resonates here. He’s someone defined by his pain, and not just symbolically.

Source: Marvel Studios

Doctor Strange switches from derivative to unforgettable during those final few minutes of the film. I’m in awe of that.

However, I’m also frustrated that we didn’t get an entire movie along those lines. That’s why I’m so excited for the sequel.

Overall, Doctor Strange remains a B+ movie with an A+++ ending.

Source: Marvel Studios

 

And that’s our Retro Review of Doctor Strange! What did you think of the film? Let us know below! \

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Marvel versus DC. Who has the hotter female actors?

DC and Marvel are the two most well-known superhero film companies. There are several points on which fans of these two studios can’t agree, including which has the superior superheroes, which has the superior superhero team-up, which has the superior villains, and which makes the superior movies.

Yes, it seems like another argument is on the horizon. Marvel and DC aren’t shy about featuring stunning female leads since they know it draws in the crowds. In exchange for portraying some of our favorite superheroines, these ladies earn millions of dollars.

Discover who has exceeded the other in this respect.

Marvel VS DC

MARVEL GIRLS

Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow

Elizabeth Olsen, aka the Scarlet Witch

Gwyneth Paltrow – Pepper Potts

Gwyneth Paltrow

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)

Valkyrie – Tessa Thompson

Dani Guererro – Okoye

DC GIRLS

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams

Amy Adams

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn

Amber Heard/Mara

Black Canary, played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell

Who do you believe has the sexiest actresses? Who is your top pick and why? Leave a comment, thanks!

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Marvel

Each and Every Show That Inspired the Disney+ Series WandaVision

WandaVision’s frequent allusions to classic television shows are a major part of its humor.

In January of 2021, WandaVision launched Phase 4 of the MCU, officially ushering in a new age of Disney+ shows. Indeed, it was the first time the MCU was seen on television, as it chronicled Wanda Maximoff’s (Elizabeth Olsen) reaction to the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame. In the end, WandaVision was a huge critical triumph, garnering a whopping 23 nods at that year’s Primetime Emmys.

WandaVision, as the first television series in the MCU, appropriately paid tribute to the medium of television by drawing inspiration from a wide range of programs throughout its history. WandaVision acknowledged a wide range of television classics by the end of the series, from The Dick Van Dyke Show to Modern Family. All the shows that served as models for WandaVision are listed here.

The Dick Van Dyke Show

The Dick Van Dyke Show, which follows the title man in his antics both at work and at home, is one of the earliest shows mentioned on WandaVision, appearing in the very first episodes. One of WandaVision’s primary inspirations comes from this episode. Matt Shakman, the show’s director, told Den of Geek that he and Van Dyke had lunch together to discuss the show’s production.

I Love Lucy

Featuring Lucille Ball as a New York housewife who dreams of becoming a star, I Love Lucy was a smash hit on television. Clearly, this program, along with The Dick Van Dyke Show, was an influence on the first two episodes of WandaVision. The most blatant example is the fact that couples could not be depicted in bed together during the airing of I Love Lucy. Two separate single beds were displayed instead of a double bed.

Featuring Lucille Ball as a New York housewife who dreams of becoming a star, I Love Lucy was a smash hit on television. Clearly, this program, along with The Dick Van Dyke Show, was an influence on the first two episodes of WandaVision. Couples could not be shown in bed together on television during the time that I Love Lucy was airing. Instead of a double bed, two single beds were displayed.

The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone, the only non-comedic source of inspiration for WandaVision, is another source of the show’s unique style. The structure of the show has a narrator guiding the audience through a series of spooky stories set in a realm named “The Twilight Zone.” Jordan Peele just recreated the series, but he stuck with the same basic idea. Jac Schaeffer, the program’s creator, discussed WandaVision’s impact on the series and its storytelling, highlighting the impact the show had on the development of Wanda’s magic and the resolution of the Hex’s mysteries.

Bewitched

Bewitched, originally shown on ABC in the 1980s, has been remade numerous times throughout the history of film and television, most recently as a box office smash starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell. Starring in the show is Elizabeth Montgomery as a witch attempting to lead the life of a typical housewife. WandaVision, in which Scarlet Witch and Vision disguise themselves as normal suburbanites, finds an apt inspiration in these stories.

The Brady Bunch

The Brady Bunch was a popular show from the 1970s about a nuclear family that ended up blending and raising six kids together. The third episode of WandaVision, as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, plainly draws inspiration from The Brady Brunch, as the title card makes explicit reference to the show’s title show.

Good Times

A family living in a Chicago public housing complex experienced nothing but good fortune. The actress playing Monica Rambeau on WandaVision, Teyonah Parris, confirmed this was a running gag, and that the show’s effect can be seen even in later episodes. Good Times originated in the 1970s as a spin-off of Maude, which was itself a spin-off of All in the Family.

Full House

In Full House, Bob Saget played a widower father who enlists the support of his brother and closest friend, both of whom were also single parents. The episode in which WandaVision transitioned into the 1980s TV era was inspired by this show. Having grown so much, Billy and Tommy had altered the household dynamic. It’s worth noting that the Olsen sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley, were featured prominently in the ABC show Full House, which served as inspiration for the show’s design.

Malcolm in the Middle

The popular sitcom Malcolm in the Middle from the 2000s focused on the eponymous character, a bright kid from a working-class family who struggled to fit in. In the sixth episode of WandaVision, there were multiple references to Malcolm in the form of dialogue and the opening titles were a direct homage to his. Furthermore, exactly as Malcolm did in his show, Tommy did in WandaVision, breaking the fourth wall.

The Office

WandaVision’s seventh episode included numerous allusions to contemporary sitcoms like The Office, especially in its mockumentary-style format, which featured interviews and glances directly into the camera. While Vision and Darcy are operating the circus truck, Vision occasionally turns his head to stare directly into the lens. When Agnes recognizes the camera, she once again reveals herself to be Agatha Harkness. It’s only fitting that a reference be made to The Office, which has had such an enormous impact on contemporary television.

Modern Family

When it comes to television, Modern Family is up there with the all-time greats. The show centers on the Pritchett family patriarch, Jay, and how his three children and their families interact. In the sixth episode of WandaVision, Wanda addresses the camera directly in a mockumentary style reminiscent of Modern Family. Wanda’s home is also quite similar to the Dunphys’ in terms of color scheme, design, and general vibe.

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Marvel

Who is the Wonder Man of Marvel Comics?
We had been expecting you, Simon Williams.

The following contains spoilers for some of Wonder Man’s comic book history, but will give you an overview of his background.

Marvel Comics readers have been wondering when Simon Williams, aka Wonder Man, would enter the MCU ever since the introduction of Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron. With the confirmation that Destin Daniel Cretton, the man behind Shang-Chi, will be directing a Wonder Man series for Disney+, some of the answers to that question began to emerge. And in even more thrilling developments, it appears that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II will play Simon Williams in the film. If you seen Watchmen on HBO, in which Abdul-Mateen II portrayed Doctor Manhattan, you’ll find this casting even more intriguing. As the villain Black Manta in the Aquaman film series, he is no stranger to the superhero genre. But that’s not why we’re here; we want to speak about Simon Williams and his role in the future of the MCU, and in particular the fates of two of the most beloved star-crossed couples in the MCU canon.

Who is this mysterious Wonder Man, anyway?

Marvel

Wonder Man made his debut to readers on the cover of Avengers #9 in 1964. There was a banner that read, “Marvel Comics proudly introduces… Wonder Man, the newest, most dynamic surprise character from the world-famous House of Ideas,” and the cover art featured the looming heads of Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Wasp, and Giant-Man looking down on their new superpowered foe. Even more so considering Wonder Man wouldn’t make it to the issue’s conclusion, it was a bold claim. Simon Williams was a normal man before he was kidnapped and subjected to “the most potent ionic rays” by Baron Zemo at his hideout in the Amazon Jungle, transforming him into a superhero with superhuman strength and invulnerability. What could possibly motivate such crazy research? The goal was to get Simon (now known as Wonder Man) into the Avengers organization and give him superpowers. In the end, Wonder Man decides to help the Avengers defeat Zemo, after initially agreeing with the plan. He pays the ultimate price for his brave decision. Zemo had poisoned him in secret and, after being deceived, had refused to give Simon the antidote. So long, Wonder Man.

The question is, how did Wonder Man make his way back? And if that was his last appearance, why is he getting a spinoff? In an event that would have lasting effects on Wonder Man and the Avengers, he was soon to play a pivotal role in the development of a legendary Marvel hero.

How Wonder Man are related with Scarlet Witch and Vision?


For four years and 51 issues, fans had to wait before seeing Simon Williams again in the pages of The Avengers. However, the style did not adhere to the norm for comic books. Unfortunately, he was not shown to be still alive or brought back from the dead. This guy wasn’t even a clone. Instead, he is shown to be instrumental in the creation of the synthezoid known as the Vision in the acclaimed story “Even an Android can Cry” by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, George Klein, and Sam Rosen. Something shocking is uncovered as the crew led by Iron Man investigates Vision’s origins and identity. Ultron, the villain, absconded with a valuable item, a “memory cassette” of Wonder Man’s brain. He put it to use in developing the Vision. Yes, in the comics the Vision is an android with a digital replica of Simon Williams’ brain, as opposed to the MCU, where he is formed via the combined efforts of Thor, Tony Stark, and Bruce Banner. The odd narrative may have ended there, but Wonder Man had more in store.

By revealing in Avengers #102 that Simon Williams had not been killed but had instead been in a coma since Avengers #9, Marvel Comics planted the seed for his eventual resurrection in 1972. Unfortunately for Simon, it wasn’t the Avengers but Kang, as part of his villain team Legion of the Unliving, that resurrected him in Avengers #131. Wonder Man’s relationship with Vision only grew in importance once he through a few more rebirths and officially joined the Avengers in 1977.

After living together for a while, the duo finally accepted their unorthodox connection and began to view each other as quirky but supportive siblings. Unfortunately, that was short-lived when a corrupt business destroyed Vision’s memory, rendering him emotionless. Simon’s understanding refusal to enable his loving wife Wanda to restore him via brain imprint donation to Vision was understandable. Because he had grown to love Wanda, even if she didn’t realize it for years. The affair was intense, but it ended when Wanda realized she still loved her one true love, Vision, too much to let him go.


What are Wonder Man’s powers?


What a fascinating query! The correct answer has evolved with the times, just like our favorite comic book heroes. We already know that his innate abilities granted him superhuman strength and indestructibility. His initial ionic experiments with Zemo gave him the foundation for his subsequent enhanced talents. Wonder Man appeared to be made entirely of pure energy after reviving from one of his numerous deaths, but the truth is more complicated.

Wonder Man has falsely claimed to be made of Ionic Energy on multiple occasions, however a more accurate description would be that it is embedded throughout his own flesh and bones. As a result of his extraordinary physiology, he can heal himself from wounds, fashion solid objects out of energy, and control magnetic fields. His peculiar abilities can be traced back to his past. Aside from that, Wonder Man possesses a host of classic superhero abilities, including flight, invulnerability, bulletproof skin, the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, extreme agility, and super reflexes. He also possesses latent powers, such as teleportation and shapeshifting, though he rarely employs them.

Isn’t it true that Wonder Man used to act?


Yep. Simon’s aspirations to become an actor are almost as well-known as his association with Vision. Wonder Man, who in the 1970s was a resident of the Avengers Mansion, left to strike out on his own. Simon left the Avengers #211 after Captain America attempted to downsize the squad to focus on his personal life in Avengers #211. He is now working with good old Hercules in his acting profession. He then tried his hand at acting before transitioning into the world of stunts in Hollywood, where he proved to be nearly unstoppable. Both West Coast Avengers Vol. 1 and his solo series Wonder Man detail that time period in his life. It’s easy to imagine that this will serve as a springboard for his Disney+ series.


What role Wonder Man will play in Marvel?


Simon Williams seems like a logical progression for the MCU after the events of WandaVision and the introduction of the memory-erased White Vision. The question that remains, though, is how the MCU will redefine the antihero in his pilot episode and throughout the franchise. The several possibilities we’ve discussed here show that this is so. Following a much-loved Marvel Cinematic Universe convention, this author speculates that Simon Williams was either an employee or rival of Tony Stark. The latter seems more realistic, given that his past in the ’80s comics was expanded to involve him competing with Stark Industries for cash.

It’s possible that the MCU will introduce the idea that Jarvis and eventually Vision were created using Williams’ coding skills or a physical brain imprint, giving him the crucial connection that the characters need. This would be a great opportunity for the MCU to further cement the brotherly bond between the two characters and bring him full circle back to Tony Stark. The Wonder Man TV show might also take place in the past to introduce audiences to the character and his background before he becomes part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That may be a fun way to introduce audiences to Wonder Man before he officially enters the current MCU, while also incorporating some of the hilarious hijinks from his time in Hollywood. It’s also plausible that this path may leave Williams in a coma, where the MCU’s latest villain can revive him.


It seems likely that Kang will play a role in Simon’s primary introduction to the MCU, given the comics and the time of the Wonder Man series. Including the Legion of the Unliving in the MCU may be a fascinating development. It’s also possible that White Vision is discovered by scientist Kang, who then links the new synthezoid to Simon. However, we believe that Simon will become well-established in the series before being presented to the main MCU, where he will become connected with White Vision and the Avengers after becoming entangled with a revived Scarlet Witch. During the Kang Dynasty comic that inspired the new film’s title, Wanda and Wonder Man actually break up in the comics.

We won’t know until Disney+ launches the much-anticipated MCU series, though.

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