The Marvel Cinematic Universe has faced alien threats such as the Chitauri, Asgardian Gods (which have been established as more science than magic) and of course, your everyday war-mongerers, terrorists and artificial intelligences. Y’know, the usual; all things the Avengers can easily mop up, as splintered as they are. However, “Doctor Strange” is geared to explore a new frontier on November 2: Marvel’s mystical realm.
This story tells of the rise of Stephen Strange from broken neurosurgeon to Sorcerer Supreme, charged by The Ancient One with protecting the realms against supernatural enemies. However, Strange hasn’t been limited to magical threats in the comics; in fact, he’s fought every kind of enemy possible as an Avenger, which already has him queued for “Avengers: Infinity War.” As a primer, we’re taking a look at some things we want to see from Marvel Studios’ origin story.
15. Kaecilius The Killer
From the multitude of trailers and online clips, it’s great to see this villain’s history and motives still shrouded in mystery. While he may be a lackey for something much more nefarious, it’s about time we get a villain that really has no respect for the body count. We’re hoping that Mads Mikkelsen takes his character to the murderous heights that Heath Ledger’s Joker reached as opposed to the lack of intimidation that Ronan and Malekith ended up showing respectively in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Thor: The Dark World.”
The spine was there in both cases for something dark, but they each fizzled. Kaecilius has disciples, as well, so let’s hope they count for something like what we saw the Hand do on Netflix’s “Daredevil.” If he can channel some “Hannibal” and maybe take one of the main cast out in the process, then we can safely say the MCU finally shook its tag of villains that fall short of the mark. We need less talk, more action.
14. Scrap The Sidekick
Thus far, Wong has looked very much a commander, as opposed to a subordinate. While in the comics, he’s the right-hand man and, some say, servant of Strange, it appears that he’s a more experienced general in The Ancient One’s hierarchy; after all, we see him and Mordo clearly overseeing the journey of the inexperienced protagonist. This reminds us of the Snyder interpretation we saw in “BvS,” where Alfred was more a military engineer than butler; they were equals battling the forces of evil, which adds a degree of respect and camaraderie that soldiers need in combat.
Wong being more senior to Strange– albeit perhaps not as mystically-attuned — is a step in the right direction. Also, to see Wong also lined up for “Infinity War” is a smart move in terms of positioning him, as it actually shows that he’s much more than just a fly-by-night crutch or piece of support for our titular character, as well as the heroes he meets along the way.
13. Time Stone Therapy
From the trailers, we’ve also seen Strange actually walking through the embattled streets with the collateral damage around him being reversed. Could it be one of his powers outside of things like the Cloak of Levitation? A strong spell enhanced by the Eye of Agamotto? Or could it be part of him either augmenting reality or travelling somewhere else? The point is, while it could just be him bending and folding reality, there’s always the possibility that Strange could, as is rumored, have the Time Stone.
This isn’t your run-of-the-mill laser-beam or energy-harnessing gem, mind you, so it would make sense that someone “supreme” needs to monitor it and take the Time Stone under their care. Could it even be connected to the Eye? Time will tell, but we know that Strange is the kind of person who knows the repercussions from wielding it and the consequences thereafter, so having it be part of his growing curve would underline his importance to the MCU today. If anyone’s to be trusted with such power, it’s him.
12. Book of the Vishanti
This is a key instrument to the mages of white light who fight the forces of darkness, and after a glimpse of what is assumed to be the Book in the trailers, Marvel fans are hoping that Strange adds it or at least pulls from it to spruce up his arsenal when Kaecilius brings the walls of reality down. This tool contains eons of magical wisdom, so while Strange may be in the early stages of adding his own works to the tome, it definitely is aimed to serve as an immense repository to build his spell set and skill en route to becoming the Sorcerer we deserve. Maybe it’s actually one of the things the villain is after? Either way, we hope it isn’t treated like some arbitrary plot tool or a deus ex machina, because its value is something that should not be understated when it comes to Strange’s weaponry against evil.
11. The Real Deal of the Realms
When it comes to the Nine Realms or Worlds, “Thor: The Dark World” took an even bigger step in explaining how everything is connected and just what these worlds are. But as of “Ant-Man,” things got a bit cloudier, especially with the end that showed the titular hero going quantum, or even sub-quantum, as some fans put it. This is known as the microverse in Marvel Comics and it has played some big roles (no pun intended) in major events.
That, of course, does beg the questions: Does it have a deeper meaning beyond science, and will Strange give us a mystical rundown on the realm? Hearing a spiritual or magical explanation that tries to marry the science behind the microverse or the multiverse could indeed add a layer of complexity, but one of major importance that continues to bridge the mystical and scientific gap in the MCU.
10. No White Savior Complex
We’ve seen this so many times with Hollywood, with the latest occurrence being Matt Damon in “The Great Wall.” We’d just like a story that’s told in a straightforward way and hopefully without too much symbolism of Strange being some sort of “white messiah.” We know what the Sorcerer Supreme tag brings, so let’s just get to him being really skilled at his training.
There’s no need to take a “Last Samurai” route, and with the whitewashing controversy involving Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, we’re hoping for a film that isn’t patronizing and just decides to be faithful to the lore without getting too heavy-handed. After all, we’ve still got “Iron Fist” to come, and there will surely be some White Savior debates arising there. The Marvel animated “Doctor Strange” movie did a great job of this balance, so we’re eager to see if they can recapture this essence of storytelling. It’ll be a tough task, but one we’re confident that Kevin Fiege and company can effectively manage.
9. Sinister Mordo
Comic fans know that Mordo and Strange have one of the biggest rivalries ever. So, to see Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character retconned to more of an ally was a bit disconcerting as the original relationship reminded a lot of the Hal Jordan tutelage and eventual partnership with Sinestro — which ended up descending into a huge rivalry. That said, we’re willing to give retcons a chance. However, from the trailers, we saw Mordo insisting on something that has to be done to save mankind, to which Strange reacts a bit tentatively. We’re hoping that those seeds of discord are sewn to reap later on.
Baron Mordo is a fallen student of The Ancient One, of course, so at some point, even if he doesn’t go full villain, we should see a clash of philosophies and doctrines with Strange, so we’ll be sated. Internal strife and conflict would add an extra bit of spice for our hero, after all. Of course, with so many threats coming hard and fast, we’d like them to patiently build to any potential fallout. We’re just up for a tease.
8. Hands On Horror
If it’s one thing the MCU has been devoid of, it’s genuine horror and fright. So far, the cinematic universe has lacked that feeling where the stakes are raised so high, you’re inflicted with genuine fear. Director Scott Derrickson has worked on horror flicks such as “Sinister” and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” so while we know it won’t go that dark, if this film does manage to up the ante with some scares and chills, then that would be a major one-up on DC (especially with “Justice League Dark” slated for production).
There is a major stream of potential here that is untapped, and if Strange really wants to own these roads, this is the key that needs to be turned. We’ve already seen the trippy visuals in the film, so why not shake things up with this roll of the dice? It’s just one more aspect that Derrickson certainly knows his way around, and could make this property truly special.
7. Addressing Civil War
We all screamed with the “Doctor Strange” shout-out in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which pretty much carried over into fans crossing fingers, hoping Benedict Cumberbatch would be the anointed one. Let’s hope, then, that in the aftermath of “Civil War,” Strange recognizes the events that transpired and why he’s now being asserted into a key player’s role. After all, he should know how important he is in a time where heroes and alliances are fractured.
If anything, maybe he actually could evolve into the thread that helps reconnect Team Cap to Team Stark. Just as in the comics, him having a say could well mean that with “Infinity War” looming, he indeed does have a serious stake in the current conflicts and, of course, the ones to come. We don’t need him picking a side necessarily, but it’d be nice to see him acknowledge that battle lines have been drawn.
6. Nods To Netflix
With shows from “Daredevil” to “Jessica Jones” to “Luke Cage” acknowledging the incident in “The Avengers” — i.e., the Chitauri waging war on Earth’s Mightiest — it’s obvious that Netflix has shown their heroes the scale and magnitude of those greater in terms of comic heroes. Now, if Netflix (which for some reason is viewed as lower tier) can nod to the big kahunas, then conversely it’s about time that they get their cameos and little spots in the cinematic limelight.
It would be awesome to see Strange, in his astral journey, visions or whatever psychedelic trip he takes, actually view the ground-level and street-heroes of the MCU kicking ass. Not only would it do them a great service and display that they are indeed part of a bigger plan, it’d also show that by traversing the television aspect of things, the latter actually has more weight than assumed. It adds a gravity to the Netflix dimension of Marvel and could finally bring about a shared sense of importance.
5. The Past Meets Present
We’ve heard Tilda Swinton and Marvel address that The Ancient One she’s portraying is just one iteration of many. We’ve also seen the disciples and students whose world Strange steps into, so we’re really hoping to see (or at least glimpse) the past iterations of not just The Ancient One, but also of the past Sorcerers Supreme. You can’t tell where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re from and it would be awesome to see these mantles treated as something more than just props and peripheral roles.
Not only would this flesh out the mythos even more, it also really shows character, layer and depth to the mythology of a hero who’s had predecessors, as opposed to the Avengers in the MCU, who more or less donned original mantles (Ant-Man notwithstanding). Even if it’s just in a couple frames or sequences, let’s hope they breathe some life into what came before Stephen Strange.
4. Uatu’s First Appearance
Remember in the “Civil War” comic event when Strange decided not to take a side, but instead sat it out and chilled with Uatu, commenting on how messy things will get? Eventually, Strange linked with Cap and Luke Cage, offering their squads refuge. However, what really stood out was that Uatu and his conversation with the Doc really showed them as powerful, observant beings.
Strange, even as part of The Illuminati, has always had truly grave perspectives, and usually, they’re just as ominous as when Uatu appears. Having the latter pop up would also stick true to what the comics dictate — The Watcher appearing when world-changing events are about to occur. This could be a great hint, and one that Strange exclusively experiences, as to the danger of Thanos that looms. What better place than here? What better time than now? Will the real Uatu please stand up? No need to lurk in the shadows anymore.
3. Let’s Talk Thanos
Plain and simple, we’re tired of the teasing with the Mad Titan. We’ve seen him perched on his floaty throne, barking orders and even shoving his hand into another Infinity Gauntlet. Seriously, it’s about time we get some action or something more than that crazy vision that Thor had in “Age of Ultron.” We’ve stressed on how making Strange a key figure could be a genius stroke moving into the next phase for the MCU, and having him encounter Thanos, even on the astral plane, and getting that warning could be such a mouth-watering meeting.
Even if it’s just to address the issue of a missing gem, Thanos conversing with Strange would indeed be two big players setting up the chessboard for what’s to come, outside of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” sequel. We expect Thanos to pop up in the cosmic world, of course, but to have Strange run into him while world-hopping would show not just the reach of his power, it would also stun viewers with an appearance that’s sure to rev engines for his next beef with Peter Quill’s team.
2. Supernatural Cameos
You’ve already got a major horror movie director on board in Scott Derrickson. So that leaves the door ajar to make a proper introduction to the likes of Dormammu, Mephisto, Daimon Hellstrom… hell, even the Drumm Brothers! When it comes to these supernatural figures, as well as those of the occult, even if this movie doesn’t embellish too much on the darker side of things, please Marvel, let loose a bit and really bring the grim out with these characters. Unleash the supernatural side of things like Derrickson did on “Hellraiser: Inferno” and “Deliver Us From Evil.” There’s just way too much fodder here to leave by the wayside. Even if they’re just easter eggs, nods to these characters would have fangirls and boys marking out. What about even teasing Khonshu, which could help pave the way to Moon Knight? Like we said, it’s all about possibility.
1. Kung Fu Strange
We’ve seen him using what appears to be the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak in the trailers, but another thing we noticed was that Strange seems to be relying a lot on his spells and powers. Wouldn’t it be a pretty badass twist if he was also a sick martial artist and a heck of a hand-t0-hand combatant? We’d love to see that extra aspect added so that Strange isn’t overpowered and churning out major spells left, right and center. Why? Well, we’d like his transformation and growth to be one that’s well-mapped out and one that the MCU really takes its time with.
Having him flawed and still learning at the end of the film, discovering more about himself and unlocking more as the overall battle against Thanos ensues, allows room for evolution as a character. It also gives enough time for him to reach that peak, just when it’s needed, in the heat of the real battles against the giants and titans. No one likes a hero that “Mary-Sues” it all in one film, so let’s pace it with the Doctor and give him some other tools to operate with, apart from magic.
Did we conjure enough to pique your interest in “Doctor Strange?” Let us know in the comments!
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