Dr. Strange is one of those movies that keeps getting maybe possibly made. For realsies this time. The project has been announced (and occassionally completed with...not great results) repeatedly, but beyond an animated movie has never really come together substantially. It's not a huge surprise when you take a step back and really examine the character: he's never been all that popular, his powers are either way too strong or way too weak, and he exists on another plane, literally and figuratively, from the rest of the Marvel Universe.
As much as cosmic stuff is hard to do well, it's gotta be even harder to do magic storylines that are almost solely about the realm of the mystical, but are still relatable to the average person. Thus I've taken it upon myself to help the project along (call it a comic reader's wish list) in the first of what will probably be several articles about the possibilities of future comic book films.== TEASER ==
Two words: Pan's Labyrinth. In this movie, Del Toro created a strange world full of disturbing, often violent, creatures that existed in parallel with our own. To keep Dr. Strange from becoming too boilerplate of a superhero movie, it's absolutely critical that Strange's exposure to other heroes be limited. Even in the books, Strange has a hard time fitting in because his powers are so ill-defined. They're merely "magic," so he needs other "magic" foes to match him or his abilities become too powerful and unwieldy, thus dispelling any notion of suspense.
Del Toro actually has a great resume to come into this project, having already directed the second Blade movie and a pair of Hellboy movies, so he's already got a lot of experience with mystical and supernatural heroes. He can also juggle horror, action and even comedy better than most directors would handle any one of those genres alone and those are three things that this movie absolutely needs. Imagine the Shuma-Gorath this guy would come up with.
I'm coming at this movie from a somewhat, and for lack of a better term, "Grant Morrison perspective." And I'm talking about the Grant Morrison we've seen in "The Invisibles," "Doom Patrol," and "The Question," the one who writes psychedelic, often drug-infused, stories of people transcending the physical world and becoming one with the great unknown. Now quit picturing the Benicio Del Toro we know from such films as "Sin City," "The Usual Suspects," and "Snatch" and START remembering him from such films as "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and "The Wolf-Man." Combine the characters of Dr. Gonzo and the protagonist from "The Wolf-Man" and you've basically got the perfect Stephen Strange.
He begins the movie as an arrogant, know-it-all surgeon, but after his horrific accident and he loses the ability to perform his work, he retreats into himself and begins to take an introspective look at who he's been and where he's going. When its revealed that Ancient One has his eye on Stephen, he's brought into a world of strange, psychedelic magick with a K! This movie would de-emphasize the superheroics of the previous movies, maybe with a few tenuous connections to the previous movies, in exchange for a more trippy, mystical journey. I would want to see Del Toro mostly in the astral realm battling Dormmamu and Shuma Gorath in their truest forms.
Say what you will about this woman, she's come a really long way as an actress in a relatively short amount of time. From Padme Amidala's double in The Phantom Menace to hardened mercenary Domino Harvey to gradual legitimate bad ass in the Pirates of the Carribean series, it's been intriguing to see just how versatile this waifish woman is. And that'd be the key to her role in this film.
She'd need to be dignified and upright, providing a stark contrast to Strange when he's hit his lowest point, but also able to expound on the realities of the mystical world that the Doctor has just discovered all while delivering dialog that is going to sound very, very silly coming out of the wrong mouth. She's played nobility before and since Clea is a noblewoman in the world she comes from, the actress who plays her is going to have to be able to juggle being unreachable, but still accessible and I think Knightley's proven she has the chops to pull it off. The fact that she looks good in diaphanous gowns is an added plus.
No more Del Toros here and with films under his belt like Shaolin Soccer and Kung-Fu Hustle (which he also directed), Chow is perfectly positioned to provide a bit of comic relief in what would have to be a fairly serious affair. Wong's at his best when he's not only providing Strange with assistance, but keeping him grounded. Strange has a way of getting lost in his own head, and often his own dense dialog, so he'd absolutely need someone to bring him back to reality and remind him that, very likely, the clock would be ticking while he pontificates wildly. He'd have to be the straight man in the pairing, rolling his eyes and sighing when Strange refuses to see what's directly in front of his face.
The Dread Lord would have to be primarily CG, at least from the neck up, so the actual physical person playing him isn't terribly important. Everybody remembers James Earl Jones as Darth Vader, but only die-hard fans knew that David Prowse was actually the man under the armor. Likewise, the voice of Dormammu is going to be vastly more important than who's actually playing him physically. And what could be a better juxtaposition than the slight, even diminutive Ben Kingsley.
Most well-known for his portrayal of Gandhi, Kingsley has taken dark turns before, most notably as a brutal, psychotically vicious criminal in Sexy Beast. This role allowed him to completely escape being typecast as a perennial "noble martyr" and he's continued to grow even this late in his career. He's also not above slumming it a little, going so far as to work with Uwe Boll on the abysmal Bloodrayne. It'd be nice to see him in a more "fun" movie that isn't completely terrible.
There's our rundown. If we had anything to say about it, we'd want a Doctor Strange movie to look a little something like this. After all, we're the ones that really know the characters. Hollywood sometimes gets the casting right. What are your thoughts on the casting? Who would be the perfect Doctor Strange in your eyes?