Warning: comic book deep-geekery™ ahead
There’s been lots of Marvel movie news floating around the internet the last couple of weeks, the biggest news being the apparent set up of the Civil War arc in Cap 3 with prominent appearances by Robert Downey Jr. leading into giant special event pictures down the road. See also at that link DC jumping into the whole shared universe thing with both feet. Of course, I think this whole business is fascinating (although the print Civil War could have been a whole lot better, and isn’t an easy copy/paste into the movie universe they’ve set up), and I’ll keep watching as things continue to roll out. It’s an exciting time to be a comic book fan.
Lost under the fanfare of that stuff, though, is the rampant speculation about Doctor Strange, who is supposed to be a huge fixture in Marvel films’ Phase 3 plans. The film has a director (horror guy Scott Derrickson), a writer (genre stalwart Jon Spaihts, who wrote the first, way better than the final product, draft of Prometheus), and is set to go before the cameras early next year for a 2016 release. There’s one thing they don’t have: a star.
They are not, however, short of rumors. Every day, it seems some new 30-40something actor has his name thrown into the mix, whether they’re a good fit or not. Joaquin Phoenix, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy all had their turn. Last week it was Keanu Reeves. This week has already gone through Ewan MacGregor and Ryan Gosling, and it’s only Thursday. Yesterday, Variety, the bible of the entertainment industry, posted a “short list” of actors supposedly being considered by Marvel for the part, including old favorites such as MacGregor, Ethan Hawke and Jared Leto, and seeming longshots like Matthew McConaughey.
Not surprisingly, Marvel themselves have been almost completely silent on this – they run a very tight ship. I fully expect that Kevin Feige’s office has an armed security detail on it round-the-clock – which leads me to believe that all of this is mostly speculation. Marvel, might, however, be encouraging this to build buzz, but I wonder if it’s all gone on too long now? Do the fans, the ones who hang on every bit of movie gossip and show up opening day for these things, already have some of the symptoms of Strange fatigue?
I don’t know, but I’m kind of getting there. I make no secret that while I enjoy almost all the Marvel stuff, most of my favorites are what many people would consider third or fourth stringers. For example, I’m inordinately excited and amazed that I live in a time where, as I type this, they’re lensing a movie based on Ant-Man for a blockbuster release. My favorite comic being published right now is probably G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel, which currently features the Inhumans’ giant teleporting bulldog-thing, Lockjaw. I have a terrible fondness for Steve Gerber’s and Bill Mantlo’s work on oddball team The Defenders and Dan Slott’s run on She-Hulk; not exactly top-shelf marquee material for most people.
Doctor Strange fits right in there. He’s not your typical hero – he’s a former surgeon turned Sorceror Supreme, who lives a bohemian lifestyle in a gothic brownstone in Greenwich Village, mostly staying out of Avengers-style slugfests in favor of psychadelic-tinged magickal battles with existential threats to the universe on far-off planes and in the battlefield of the mind. For my money, he’s Steve Ditko’s greatest creation (and I’m a total Spider-Man loyalist), and I’m really looking forward to the film. It should be cool and visually interesting, and distinctly different than existing comic book properties, which can only be a good thing; comics, even superhero comics, are a medium of great variety, and Strange is a great chance to demonstrate that to the masses.
However, I am tired of the speculation. I want this thing to get rolling. I don’t need spoilers, I just want this thing to have a cast in place so it doesn’t fall apart; so it becomes a real thing. I want to get excited about something concrete, to either immediately appreciate the eventual casting choice, or to have time to make my peace with the choice and come around if I don’t. Unfounded speculation is fun, but only to a point; after a while, it becomes just noise, and enthusiasm wanes. One can be teased too much. I’m getting there.
I’m well aware that I’m owed nothing from the folks making this. There’s plenty of other interesting stuff competing for my attention (including stuff I’m playing a part in making myself) outside of the stuff that keeps food on my table, which is busy enough right now (I trained over 700 people yesterday on a software tool I’ve been managing development for for the last year!). But, as people are fond of saying, Superheroes are our modern myths, and I’m a fan of those myths – I get excited about back-channel geek industry news the same way sports fans get engaged with stuff coming out of their favorite sportsball team’s business offices, and I have no shame about that, nor should I.
I’m just shouting out my opinion on the internet because I can, you know?