It seems that the resident sorcerer of NYC's Greenwich Village will be the next character from the Marvel roster to get the big screen treatment. That's right -- a movie for Doctor Strange is in the works! According to Deadline, Marvel Studios has hired Thomas Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer, the writing team behind the upcoming reboot of Conan (the sword-wielding Barbarian, not the NBC refugee) to pen the legendary mystic's live-action debut. However, with their recent $4 billion acquisition of Marvel, this film will also apparently be the first that will be released under the banner of Disney.
Besides being involved with a draft of Jon Favreau's upcoming Cowboys and Aliens, the writing duo of Donnelly and Oppenheimer have also penned the screenplay to the upcoming film adaptation of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. (They wrote a video game movie? ...Oh, boy.) At this point, details are scarce. However, it is worth noting that Doctor Strange's name did come up in the recent news regarding Marvel potentially looking to release a series of short films staring some of its lesser-known characters. The release under the Disney banner is actually a given, considering that Marvel Studios' distribution partnership with Paramount is down to four more films before Disney would then take the helm. It is assumed that those four will be Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, and finally Iron Man 3. While other Marvel properties like Runaways and Ant-Man remain on the back-burner, it will be interesting to see how films after the Paramount deal will take shape. If the rumor about the short films holds true, then perhaps the changing of the release strategy of some of these lesser-known Marvel comic films may coincide with Disney taking the helm of distribution.
As far as the possibilities for Doctor Strange as a movie, it could have the potential to be the most unique comic book film ever. Once a prominent and somewhat arrogant surgeon, Stephen Strange's medical career ended with a devastating car accident that deprived him of his abilities. Filled with guilt over the plethora of personal tragedies of in his life, he traveled to the Far East seeking to learn of mystic powers to fix everything that was wrong in his life. Instead, he found his calling and was trained to be a mystic hero defending Earth against evil invaders from another dimension. He's been a fixture in the Marvel Universe ever since.
Strange has the potential to be an excellent film, as long as the complexity of his character is retained. The original comic released in the early 60's was clearly influenced from youth subculture's prevalent interest at the time in psychedelia and Eastern Mysticism. The idea of the Marvel staff being high on mushrooms while producing the series was a long-running rumor. (Which was denied emphatically.) The film, therefore, must contain the quirkiness that embodied the comics, while casting a lead who can express the grouchiness and reluctance to heroism shown in Strange's journey towards his destiny. In other words, he has to be kind of a pompous and sarcastic douche, yet be one that at the same time maintains a certain swagger and likability. If you ask me, House's Hugh Laurie is tailor-made for that role. But, of course, we'll see.
What's your take on Doctor Strange? Can it work on the big screen? Is it too weird for average moviegoers?