As the scope of the Marvel Cinematic Universe expands throughout Phase 3, we can expect that we’ll begin to see the varying sides of the comic book universe begin to rear their heads. Already, the earth side of Marvel has been mined to great extent with the majority of their MCU movies, and the galactic side has been opened up with Guardians of the Galaxy. While there’s still plenty of stories and characters to be culled from both of these areas of the universe, there’s one side that has yet to be seen on film: the magical and mystical side.
That all changes later this year with the release of Doctor Strange. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) in the eponymous role, the film is set to blow the reality of the MCU wide open as it delves into the heretofore unseen realms of existence that shape and influence the world around us. We got a tiny taste of what’s in store for us with the recent release of the teaser trailer. There, we got some mind-bending glimpses of the nature of reality that caused a stir of excitement online on its initial release. While many have wondered just how mind-bending the movie would actually be, one of the movie’s writers recently suggested that we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
As reported by Heroic Hollywood, Doctor Strange co-writer C. Robert Cargill recently made an appearance on the podcast The Sunday Service. There, the writer discussed Marvel’s movie making philosophy as a whole, and where Doctor Strange fits in to the universe at large. While specifics are largely left unrevealed, we did get some insight into how the direction of Doctor Strange represents Marvel’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of the comic book movie genre:
“This teaser is, it’s the definition of a teaser. You are only getting a like a small taste of just how crazy this movie gets. We have only just the slightest hints of magic in there. There are major characters you don’t even glimpse in that trailer, there is so much stuff going on, that this thing is just nutty, the stuff they let us do, I can’t believe they let us do it. Like, just, … Kevin Feige and other producers like Stephen Broussard would be ‘How can we make it crazier?’ and I was like, ‘Aw right, let’s play around.’ It’s just a hell of an experience.”
That’s good news for Strange fans. The Doctor Strange of the Marvel Comics universe is a character known for glimpsing past the veil of reality that surrounds us all, into the true nature of existence. With such a heady premise, things are known to get bizarre and weird from time to time. That Marvel Studios is known for staying true to the characters that inspire their movies is no real surprise, however. This is how the company managed to turn their comic book properties into a cinematic empire that other studios are currently falling all over themselves to duplicate. For Cargill, however, it’s Marvel’s philosophy that sets the tone.
“They are constantly trying to evolve the comic book movie, rather than going, ‘This is what works, we’re doing this.’ They’re like, ‘What haven’t we done yet? Like, what crazy stuff can we do?’”
For some, it might be easy to take umbrage at this quote, given Marvel’s penchant for moving in narratively familiar ways across their movies. However, it’s difficult to deny the stamp Marvel has left on the entire genre with their approach to superhero properties. While it’s true that their narrative identity is pretty firmly recognizable, they’ve also done things with superheroes that couldn’t even been dreamed of just a decade ago.
Ten years ago, a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy would not have been possible. Most studios would look at a movie about a kidnapped, space-faring human befriending a genetically engineered, cybernetic raccoon and a walking, talking tree as pure nonsense. Or take a movie like Ant-Man, where the main character shrinks himself to the point of entering the quantum realm. The idea itself would probably never make it past the pitch stage before the MCU. And yet both were successes for Marvel, on the whole.
This bodes well for Doctor Strange, another movie with a premise that is so wild and offbeat that it couldn’t exist just a few years ago, no matter how much fans may have wanted it. Say what you will about their narrative formula, the studio has no problem bringing in new ideas and fresh cinematic takes on superhero properties.
Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.