There is the thinking that the key to longevity in the entertainment business is to constantly reinvent yourself. Clearly the brain trust at Marvel Studios buys into this philosophy, as their library of movies continues to diversify with every year.
They have accomplished this by complimenting their superhero adventures with various sub-genres to make each film feel familiar, yet fresh. Perhaps, just as importantly, they began releasing two movies a year. One that's an established brand and a second that expands the cinematic universe in dynamic ways. We saw this work to great success last year with Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man, while they had one of the summer's biggest hits with Captain America: Civil War - and this November it will be followed up with Doctor Strange.
Marvel's fourteenth theatrical release, Doctor Strange, will serve as the gateway into the secret worlds of magic and mysticism. The movie follows Dr. Stephen Strange, a world-class surgeon whose hands are horribly disfigured in a car accident. He searches the world for a remedy and instead finds his true calling in sorcery and magic. As has become tradition, Marvel is giving the world a formal introduction to their new property, with a cover story on Empire.
Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) stars as Strange and fans of the comic should be pleased with the authenticity and detail in the costume that hearkens back to the original Jack Kirby art from decades ago. In addition, we get a small glimpse of the spell casting that we can expect from the upcoming film. Cumberbatch has previously spoken about the thought and training that went into how he would physically express his magical powers. You can see the detail down to the precise finger poses, which should bring to mind Scarlet Witch's (whose powers may or may not derive from magic in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) hand gestures from both Age of Ultron and Civil War.
The second look features Cumberbatch flanked by his world class supporting cast. Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer) was cast as the Ancient One, Strange's mentor in the ways of mysticism and the one that literally unlocks his mind to the possibilities of magic. (Think of her as the Morpheus to Strange's Neo.) Benedict Wong (The Martian) plays another practitioner of magic aptly named Wong, whose origin from the comics has been thankfully altered. The actor has previously described his role as "a drill sargeant" and another "master of sorcery." Chiwetel Ejiofor (Triple 9) is seen as Baron Karl Mordo, another early ally and powerful magician in his own right. In the comics, Mordo goes on to become one of Strange's greatest arch-nemesis, so there is certainly a lot more to be explored in this film or the future.
While the Empire covers don't necessarily break new ground in the world of photography or character reveals, they do give uninitiated readers and potential movie ticket buyers clear introductions to the new faces of the MCU. At one time the Ant-Man suit looked old and retro, it was unbelievable that a raccoon could talk, or that Captain America could actually be cool, but now these characters are all irreplaceable pieces of the Marvel family. So, say hello to your new Marvel cousins from another dimension! They are probably going to be around awhile.
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming– July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Untitled Avengers – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.