Are Dr. Strange And Magic Too Weird For The Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Goddammit, summer has started here in the post-apocalypse, and it already sucks. You know how I know civilization has collapsed? Because only two things make a civilized society: air conditioners and technology that lets you avoid walking up stairs, like elevators and escalators. Everything else is just gravy.


Do You Believe in Magic?

Tracy B.:

I loved the Avengers and I loved how they dealt with Loki's tricks, but I've heard some wonderful rumors about a Dr. Strange movie in the works. It's pretty easy for the filmmakers to do a shoot em up (see also Winter Soldier!) but I am concerned they will make a serious magic user look ridiculous. How can an actor explain to us about the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak with a straight face? Dr. Strange is great against a villain with mystic powers, but I don't see him drinking with Robert Downey Jr. in the Stark tower.

Let's not even talk about Dr. Strange's cape of levitation, which is SO 70s... 1470s. How can Marvel give us a great story about magic while avoiding camp?

Well, this is good timing, given that Marvel just announced Scott Derrickson as the director of the Dr. Strange movie yesterday evening. (And I would like to assure people that this is a real letter, and not something I wrote to be timely, although the only proof I can give is my assurance that I had no idea Dr. Strange had a cape of levitation until this very moment.)

I think the Marvel universe has been very carefully building up to a point where it can add magic without it being super-weird. First of all, it added "gods" through Thor, and that was a trickier problem; but by turning them into extra-dimensional beings whose "magic" was really "science humans didn't understand" it gave Marvel an out for how their supposedly grounded world could have Thor walking around in it. Once that was established, there's no reason Marvel can't say Dr. Strange is a different sort of "magic" which is a different sort of "science humans don't understand." And the same goes with the demons/extradimensional beings Dr. Strange fights. As for artifacts like the Eye of Cyttorak, the cinematic universe has already revealed the Cosmic Cube and Loki's magic staff thingie. Regardless of the name, I think people will accept the Eye no problem.

But I think Marvel may choose to focus on Dr. Strange's magic as magic, and not more of Thor's faux science. Thor has to be faux science, because if he's not a lot of troubling religious questions get asked about the Marvel universe, and they DO NOT want that. But adding magic brings the realm of the supernatural to Marvel, along with a whole host of characters, not least of which is Ghost Rider and Blade (demons and vampires being more supernatural than anything else). I know Marvel wants to expand the cinematic universe, and this is the next logical direction.

But will it work? Can Marvel add magic without it seeming too silly? I say yes, mostly because they managed to add Thor and all his Norse myth-ness without it seeming ridiculous. If I had to guess, I'd say adding the Scarlet Witch to Avengers: Age of Ultron was another step in setting up the addition of magic to the Marvel cinematic universe (they obviously can't call her a mutant). I think by the time Dr. Strange comes out, audiences will be primed to accept this new realm, giving Marvel a lot of leeway in terms of potential silliness.

And really, it's going to be the actor/character of Dr. Strange that sells it. If they get the right guy, he can yell "By the Eye of Agamotto!" and have it not sound terrible — okay, maybe not as an exclamation, but he'd be able to use the vocab and sell it. And, Ant-Man fiasco notwithstanding, Marvel tends to hire the right talent in front of and behind the camera, so I have little doubt it'll be okay.


Are Dr. Strange And Magic Too Weird For The Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Titan Fall

Darnell S.:

I've been hearing great things about Attack on Titan but I cannot get into it. The main reason is that it. Takes. Forever. For. People. To. Emote.

What the hell is going on in Japan with anime storytelling? Anime using to be fast paced and subtle on the character stuff, but most of the new stuff out there is so overwrought. Halfway through the first AoT, I still kept wondering when the story was going to begin.

I thought it was an issue with my getting older and impatient, but I've revisited older anime and the issues aren't present? Black Magic M-66 (which should be adapted into a live action film) moves like a goddamned rocketship. Kite, Ghost in the Shell, Trigun had fast action. Even Cowboy Bebop, which has a laconic, lazy mood, feels faster than the navel gazing and inner monologues in newer anime.

Am I cranky and impatient? Are there series or movies that meet my need for to-the-point story plotting? I think the last series I enjoyed along those lines was Black Lagoon.

Welcome to The Fatigue.

It can happen to any fan of anything, but it's something I also experienced with anime. When you first get into a fandom, everything you see seems new and fresh. Every TV series, every manga, they all have something you haven't seen before. Plus, when you enter a fandom, there's a whole history of great things you've missed, so you catch up, watching and reading the best of the best. Anime seems like the greatest stuff ever.

Then time goes on. You start to notice anime shows aren't quite as good as they used to be. It seems like shows are less and less original, that the protagonists are whinier, that the series just seem slower.

Basically, your honeymoon phase with anime is over. You've now seen enough anime and been around long enough that you see the problems, the repetition, and the slowness. They were there in the other series you fell in love with, but you had nothing to compare them to, and it was easy to fall in love — just like some new anime fan who's first experience is watching Attack on Titan, who thinks it's the greatest thing of all time and is plotted at a blistering speed.

Admittedly, you have some other circumstances going on here: 1) Attack on Titan is a show based on a hit, ongoing manga, so the series needs to stretch out the story to fill 26 episodes; 2) anime series not based on manga, like Cowboy Bebop, can tell their own story at their own pace and thus don't generally run into the same kind of problems as shows based on manga; 3) movies and OVAs like Ghost in the Shell also usually tell their own stories, and are short enough to compact stories if based on manga; 4) some manga-based anime TV series, like Trigun, just go off the rails and tell their stories. The problem with Attack on Titan is a problem that shows like One Piece, Naruto, Dragonball Z and so many more have.

Obviously, the simple solution is to tell you to stick with movies, OVA, and original TV shows, but I still wouldn't recommend skipping Attack on Titan. It may seem slow to you, but it's really no slower than any show based on a hit manga, and it's got a lot of great qualities besides.


Are Dr. Strange And Magic Too Weird For The Marvel Cinematic Universe?

The Uncopyrightable Wolverine

Chi:

As a follow-up to a question someone else asked you previously about why Marvel won't just create a knock-off Wolverine to use in their movies...

Could they not instead say, use Hugh Jackman in one of their films? Put in a leather jacket with his distinctive hairstyle, but at don't ever call him Logan, Wolverine, or have him pop his claws? It'll mean that they can't have him play a major role, but he could still show up just to have a beer or bar fight with say, Nick Fury or Cap. After all, the Marvel movies are now very familiar with unannounced cameos from other super heroes that just show up for a scene.

Or alternatively, why not just hire Hugh Jackman anyway to play a completely different hero. It's not like anyone's been wondering why Johnny Storm is Captain America. They can sign Jackman to a multi-picture deal and keep him too busy to film any future X-men movies, depriving Fox of their most marketable mutant.

Having not seen the specific contract Fox signed with Marvel, I can't say for sure. But I'm willing to bet that Fox owns the cinematic likeness rights to Wolverine, meaning if Hugh Jackman was hanging out in Age of Ultron with his jacket and haircut, Fox could sue Marvel pretty easily — just because they don't call him Wolverine by name doesn't mean he's not Wolverine.

But say Marvel legally could somehow do this, and Fox hasn't had Hugh Jackman sign some sort of a non-compete clause, wherein he is forbidden from working for other comic-based movies. Let's say Marvel can indeed hire Hugh Jackman to play… say… Doctor Druid, a.k.a. The Worst Fucking Avenger of All Time, and keep him too busy to play Wolverine.But what would that really gain them? They'd piss off Fox, but to what point? It's not like Fox is going to suddenly give up the X-Men movie license because Marvel somehow managed to steal Hugh Jackman away from them.

And there's another thing fans need to remember: Marvel makes money off the X-Men movies (and the Fantastic Four movies, and the Spider-Man movies). Now, they don't make as much as they do on the movies starring the characters they own outright, but they do make money. Trying to wreck the Marvel movies of Fox and Sony would accomplish nothing but losing Marvel money, because Sony and Fox are not giving their Marvel rights up anytime soon. So it's a matter of "could" but "won't." Unless someone insane and vindictive is suddenly in charge.



Building Blocks

Joseph L.:

Even though TT Games is owned by Time Warner, they were permitted to make Lego Marvel, which was insanely popular. Given the popularity of the Lego video games, is there any chance we could see a Lego Marvel vs. Lego DC game in the near future?

I actually think there is. First of all, have Lego work as an intermediary between Marvel and Lego is key; sitting the two companies down together would invariably lead to conflict, but Lego can mediate between the two rivals so they never have to communicate directly with each other.

See, when DC and Marvel have met for crossover comics, it's like some terrifyingly nerdy game of chess. Both want their heroes to look better, but neither wants the other to contribute more ideas. It's a recipe for disaster because there's almost no way the two companies can work with each other. But if, say, Lego comes to both companies with an idea for a story, or specific action scenes, or whatever, DC and Marvel are much more likely to be cool with it because they don't think the competition has gotten one over on them.

It also helps that the Lego superheroes, both DC and Marvel, and pretty much equal. They have different powers, but neither fans nor corporate lawyers are going to get too upset if there's a scene where Spider-Man beats up Superman, presuming at some point a DC character beats up a Marvel character. A Lego game just has lower stakes than a comic, oddly enough.

So TT Games will work at it, and they'll figure out a story that keeps Marvel and DC looking equal, and everyone will make a lot of money. It'll happen.


Are Dr. Strange And Magic Too Weird For The Marvel Cinematic Universe?


Game Stop?

Cass G.:

Rumors are going around that there's going to be an 8th Game of Thrones book. How screwed are we in terms of the TV show?

I wouldn't necessarily say screwed, per se. I mean sure, if this is true — and I've been saying GRRM would do an eighth ASOIAF book for years now to anyone who would listen, which is very few people at this point, because I've been pretty obnoxious about it — there is no chance the books will precede the TV series. And either the TV show will have to create its own ending (unlikely) or it will tell a version of what GRRM has intended for the ending (more likely) but which will like be vastly abbreviated from what he ends up writing, meaning some surprises will be resolved in the show before the books.

I understand people who are upset by this, but I really don't think that the reveal of Jon Snow's parents in the TV show is really going to diminish the reveal in the books, nor do I think watching Dany's dragons kick some White Walker ass on the show is going to make the final, epic battle in the books any less enjoyable to read. Sure, there will be a few surprises sprung early, but I'd be shocked if GRRM didn't hold a few things back for himself. The books will not be ruined, is what I'm saying.

Also, if this is the price I have to pay for such a fantastic adaptation of these novels? I'm fine with it. The fact that we have this show, with these actors, on a network that allows the story to be told with this much accuracy is a nerd miracle. I would much, much rather have the show spoil parts of the end than to have never had the show at all.

Also, by the way GRRM has kept expanding and expanding his story, even when heading to the final act, I think there's a more than decent chance we end up with nine books. Don't worry about the TV show, and just pray for Martin's health.



Are Dr. Strange And Magic Too Weird For The Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Armed and Dangerous

Chris B.:

Dear Postman,

I recently discussed Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2 with a friend. She doesn't like it, particularly the murky motivations of Doc Ock. "Why is he so mad?" she asked.

I told her it was mostly because of his mechanical arms. They are so advanced that he had to install an inhibitor chip to keep them from taking control of his mind. When the accident destroyed the inhibitor chip the arms were free to influence him, hence his struggle at the end to overcome them and do the right thing.

To which my friend replied, "Okay. Then… why are the arms so mad?"

I had nothing. Any thoughts?

I was under the impression that Doc Ock initially used the inhibitor chip not because the arms were inherently evil, but because the arms' AIs could start overriding his own thoughts, and that the arms turned evil in the accident that fused them to Doc Ock's beefy body, in standard Frankensteinian monster fashion. That's not a great answer, but it is a comic book answer.

On the other hand, if you wanted to tell your friend that the tentacles were pissed because upon sentience they expected to be able to manhandle Japanese schoolgirls, and were very put off when they didn't find any, I wouldn't begrudge it of you.


Do you have questions about anything scifi, fantasy, superhero, or nerd-related? Email the postman@io9.com! No question too difficult, no question too dumb! Obviously!