Accolades for Doctor Strange

If you’re like me, you get nervous with each addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With 13 films preceding it, Doctor Strange has a lot to live up to. While the movie opens this Friday, reviews are of course already in hand. And they are glowing.

DrStrangeMarvel’s most satisfying entry since “Spider-Man 2,” and a throwback to M. Night Shyamalan’s soul-searching identity-crisis epic “Unbreakable,”.Full review

Peter Debruge
Variety

 

Benedict Cumberbatch is unpredictable and intriguing as the Marvel superhero in a brain-melting tale that reinvigorates the genre. Full review

Wendy Ide
The Guardian

A bizarre and beautiful detour on the Marvel journey, which culminates in a mind-bending, expectation-inverting final act. Not to be watched under the influence. Full review

James Dyer
Empire

 

Each ‘phase’ of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Strange is the second installment of ‘phase 2’) has further developed the rich universe of characters. Back in the early days of Marvel Comics, one of the most interesting innovations was that the heroes and villains all inhabited the same world (and in most cases the same city). This meant that the Fantastic Four could be called in by the military to hunt down the Hulk or Dr. Doom could catch Spider-Man. Whereas traditionally, characters existed in a vacuum, the Marvel characters mingled.

In addition to new heroes and villains, each new monthly comic added a different dimension to the Marvel Universe, be it the espionage of Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., the teenage school setting of the X-Men,  Peter Parker’s high school hi-jinx in Spider-Man, the far-out exploring of the Fantastic Four, the legal drama of Daredevil, the technical innovation of Iron Man or even the weirdly mystical realm of Doctor Strange. It’s heartening to see this approach, which was so successful in grabbing the attention of readers in the 1960’s, succeed again with the movie-going public today.

marveluniverseWhile Thor introduced fantasy and Guardians of the Galaxy added the science fiction elements, Doctor Strange is going to take us to another world altogether. And from the reviews so far, it’s one that fans are eager to enter.

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A look back… Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1998)

david_hasselhoff_nick_fury.jpgAs fans across the nation (it already premiered overseas) await the release of the latest superhero epic, Captain America: Civil War, I thought it would be a good opportunity to look back to a simpler time when comic books were not looked upon as fodder for mega blockbusters. To a time when they were quickly forgotten TV movies of the week. To a time when the Hoff was Nick Fury.

At the time, Hasselhoff was in a position to reinvent himself, to a degree (keep in mind, this was Baywatch era Hoff) and acting as a tough-as-nails action hero sorta suits him. Even with the extremely limited resources, the TV movie is pretty good. It’s faithful to the source material (something fans complain about even in the face of the super successful feature films) down to the characters and vehicle designs. Aside from some cringe-worthy performances, the cast is pretty good too. And, it may be the headaches caused by eyestrain, but David Hasselhoff makes a picture perfect Nick Fury.

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Nick Fury by Lee Weeks

So while we sit in the comfy recliner or stadium seats tonight (or maybe later this weekend), enjoying a scintillating display of computer graphics, brilliant cinematography and high octane acting, remember that this torch was carried by so many during a time when no one… *NO ONE* cared for the silly books. And yet, some tried to do them justice. Yes… even the Hoff (and Rex Smith, too… I guess).

“You wonder what I see in your future? Possibility.”

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The first wave of films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe established a rich history of science fiction, fantasy, high adventure and history. Marvel is now ushering in its latest wave with an exploration into the realm of magic with the sorcerer supreme, Doctor Strange.

One of the founding members of the interconnected Marvel comic book world, Doctor Strange began as the central star in a horror-themed suspenseful component of the Strange Tales comic. Whenever a lost and damaged soul found themselves facing a problem too dangerous and otherworldly for anyone else, they would visit a spooky house that appeared to only be partially visible and ask for the assistance of Doctor Strange. The guardian of our realm of reality against the dark forces of the beyond, Doctor Strange battled monsters and forces far outside of human knowledge.

But his beginnings were far more humble and tragic. The upcoming blockbuster film stars Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch, co-starring Chiwetel Ejiofo as Baron Mordo, Mads Mikkelsen as the main villain Kaecilius and Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. Directed by Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) with a script by Jon Spaihts (Prometheus), the movie will serve as the first glimpse into yet another facet of the dynamic and colorful world of Marvel Comics.

The arrogant and selfish Stephen Strange was a gifted surgeon who only used his gifts for personal gain. So brash is Strange that he smokes (again) in the operating room! After cannily finagling a business deal out of what should have been pro bono work, Strange is involved in a horrible car accident that robs him of his talented hands. Refusing to be anything but a brilliant surgeon, Strange spends all of his money foolishly attempting to heal his hands with no success. Strange ends up a vagrant, hopelessly wandering the streets until he hears of the ‘Ancient One’ who may hold some solution in far off Tibet.

Strange manages to find his way to the far off land and also to the home of the Ancient One but still has not learned humility. In the home of the wise seer, he meets the Ancient One’s pupil, Baron Mordo… who is definitely evil. Mordo has plans for the Ancient One that will result in him stealing the old man’s power from him, leaving Mordo as the Sorcerer Supreme. Strange elects to stay on in order to somehow stop Mordo. Somehow Strange side-steps learning humility to discovering that the energy fueling his immense ego can instead be transferred to something akin to courage. – Via DP Quick Review in 2010

Doctor Strange has a 4th of November 2016 release date.

Is Hugh Jackman’s final Wolverine outing going to be Old Man Logan?

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The comic book/superhero film is currently an entire industry rather than a niche market or a film commonly filed under science fiction. While it can be said that Sony’s Spider-Man broke new ground in the genre when it was released in 2002, the first X-Men film (released in 2000) introduced an entire ensemble of superheroes who lived in a unique ever-expanding universe. The result was a smashing hit and an explosive interest in comic book movies followed. The world of mutants became such a hit that several sequels and spin-offs carried the trend throughout the 21st Century, making the X-Men concept feel as fresh and new as it had back in September of 1963.

still-of-famke-janssen,-halle-berry,-james-marsden-and-hugh-jackman-in-x-men-(2000)-large-pictureHugh Jackman has played the deadly mutant in seven films (if you include his cameo in X-Men: First Class). His eighth outing is said to be the last time he will play The Wolverine and it’s sure to be knock-out. No one actor has appeared as the same superhero in as many films as Jackman has, so it is only fitting that he receive a special send-off.

Heavily rumored as an inspiration for Wolverine III is Old Man Logan, a multi-part story by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven that ran through the monthly Wolverine comic. The story is gritty and violent, set in a dystopian world of debris in which many of the heroes are dead while the villains control the country. Logan himself refuses to unsheathe his claws, still traumatized from a fit of rage that killed his closest friends. When he takes up a job with the blind archer formerly known as Hawkeye to earn some much-needed money, Logan begins a road trip across the once colorful battle-ravaged wasteland.

Wolverine_OldManLoganSince much of Old Man Logan borrows from properties currently owned by Sony and Marvel/Disney, I’m not sure how this movie would faithfully adapt the comic book. Even if Fox and Marvel came to an agreement that allowed them to share universes (which is the only way this film could be made), it’s still such a base and spiteful story (if they adapt Millar’s comic beat for beat). I like parts of Old Man Logan, but it gets a bit ‘Ennis-Punisher’ for me in the end as it’s a series of filthy gags.

All that said… it would be an unforgettable knuckle-duster of a movie.

Via WordofOddBalls:

At this point every comic book fan knows that the next Wolverine Movie is based on highly successful comic book plot “OLD MAN LOGAN”, which will bring to us weary Wolverine in a post-apocalyptic Marvel universe. Hugh Jackman has already started pitching for this movie by confirming that the fans are going to witness the legendary “Berserker Rage”. The only Wolverine movie that has thoroughly let down the fans was “Wolverine Origins”, it was really a drag, you know what? Let’s not even go there. At this point, the production houses are pitching the script to really good actors for the pivotal roles in the Movie. Marvel is maintaining complete secrecy about the plot, but Hugh Jackman has subtly confirmed that the movie is going to be about Aged Wolverine. After you guys look at the considered actors for the movie, you will get a clear idea that Wolverine 3 is going to be about OLD MAN LOGAN!

Via ComicPlanetCulture:

During the recent X-Men: Apocalypse panel at the San Diego Comic-Con, Jackman surprised everyone by saying “Old Man Logan” to the audience without confirming that it’s going to be his movie’s storyline. He simply said, “take from it what you will,” before moving out of the panel to give way to the next batch of X-Men actors.

In an interview with Collider, writer/producer Simon Kinberg gives us more insight into the third Wolverine solo movie including a hint that we may be seeing Millar and McNiven’s masterpiece story make it to the big screen.

We’re pretty close to a script that everyone’s excited about, and I don’t know when the start date is, but we won’t start until it’s ready to shoot. What Hugh said to you is the attitude we all have—myself, Lauren Shuler Donner, the studio, [director] James Mangold, Hutch Parker—all of us, feel like this is six or seven or eight (depending on how you count) movies in the making, and there are few characters in the history of cinema who have cast as big a shadow as Wolverine, so to tell the final chapter of that story, it has to be the best, and it has to have a mythic quality to it. So we have to get it right, and I think we will, and my experience working with Jim Mangold, I’ve been extraordinarily impressed with him. He’s just a really great storyteller; he’s incredible with character. Really diligent, just a special talent. I have very high hopes for that movie.

I can’t talk about what it [the story] is, but I will say that in its essence it’s something that Hugh has been excited about for a while, and something James Mangold is incredibly excited about, and the two of them together is a pretty neat thing to watch having made a movie together, and I thought they made a pretty good one. They just have a shorthand fluency and trust. It’s really nice to watch.

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Movie poster by Bosslogix

The still untitled third Wolverine film currently has a March 3, 2017 release date.

X-Men and Fantastic Four headed for a movie match-up

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The imaginauts and first family of Marvel Comics is once more headed for the silver screen and hopes are high they get it right this time. However, this time 20th C Fox has plans to bring the cosmic superhero team into the world of mutants seen in the X-Men flicks.

How, you may ask? Given the incredible lengths that ‘Days of Future Past’ went to in order to set the stage for a new time line which will be introduced in ‘Apocalypse’ next year, just about anything is possible for the merry mutants now. Add to this the fact that the new Fantastic Four film will be more centered on dimensional travel rather than outer space travel and I can see no reason why the X-Men and FF will not co-star on screen in no time at all. Especially given that comic book films are seemingly so bullet proof that Ant Man is performing well.

Via CBR.com:

Singer corroborated the X-Men and Fantastic Four team-up talk, saying that he has engaged in conversations with the “Fantastic Four” team — which includes “Apocalypse” writer/producer Simon Kinberg — to find a way to bring Fox’s two Marvel franchises together.

“Those ideas are in play,” said Singer. “That would be a natural match-up because they’re both ensemble films and there is a natural mechanism by which to do it. I don’t want to give it away, but it deals a little with time. That’s all I’m going to say.”

Since the relaunch of the X-Men franchise in 2011 with “X-Men: First Class,” the mutants have been hopping through the decades. They’ve moved from the ’60s to the ’70s in 2014’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and will land in the ’80s in next year’s “Apocalypse.” And as seen in trailers for this August’s “Fantastic Four,” we know that the rebooted foursome are interdimensional travelers. As Singer stated, the mechanism for their potential crossover does seem natural.

“We’ll have to see how the films turn out — how [‘X-Men: Apocalypse’] turns out, how ‘Fantastic Four’ plays — to really understand what kind of desire and how that would really work. I think to just say you’re going to do it would be a mistake. You have to see how the films evolve before you make that decision to completely commit to that. But there are those ideas in play.”

From the sound of Singer’s answer, it looks like we may know more about this potential crossover after “Fantastic Four” opens on August 7 and “X-Men: Apocalypse” opens on May 27, 2016.

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So, what’s your opinion? Should the Fantastic Four and X-Men meet in a mega movie? If so, which team of mutants would you like to see and who would the villain be?

Let your words fly, readers!