Saturday, 6 August 2011

Movie Ramblings: DR. STRANGE: THE MOVIE?

I read on that MARVEL STUDIOS plans on a big screen adaptation of their classic supernatural superhero DR. STRANGE, created by the legendary team of writer STAN LEE  & artist STEVE DITKO.

Dr. Strange art by Steve Ditko
MARVEL STUDIOS hired screenwriters THOMAS DONNELLY & JOSHUA OPPENHEIMER(COWBOYS & ALIENS; the new CONAN movie) back in June 2010 to work on the script with hopes it will be among the 1st MARVEL films generated under the WALT DISNEY PICTURES banner. After all they did spend Billions just to buy the comic book properties.

Dr. Strange art by Alan Davis
MARVEL STUDIOS sent the DR. STRANGE script to a number of directors considered for the project, but hasn't officially green-lit just yet, but hopes whichever director is ultimately attached will "oversee continued development" with a Summer 2013 release.

Pixar Logo
PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS showed interest in September 2010 in making a fully CGI movie, having done the superhero CGI film the INCREDIBLES.

As for the role of DR. STRANGE, actor PATRICK DEMPSEY indicated he was lobbying to play DR. STRANGE while promoting for TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON this summer. DEMPSEY is perhaps best known as the DR. DEREK "McDREAMY" SHEPHERD on the TV show GREY'S ANATOMY.

Patrick Dempsey

This wouldn't be DR. STRANGE's 1st time he's been adapted to film. There was a 1978 TV movie that was written & directed by executive producer PHILIP DeGUERE for CBS by UNIVERSAL TELEVISION as a unsuccessful TV pilot. It starred PETER HOOTEN as DR. STEPHEN STRANGE, CLYDE KUSATSU as WONG, a smokin' hot JESSICA WALTER as the villainous MORGAN LeFAY (the 1st Live-Action MARVEL COMICS' super-villian), Canadian actress EDDIE BENTON (aka, ANNE-MARIE MARTIN) as CLEA LAKE; SIR JOHN MILLS as STRANGE's mentor, Sorcerer Supreme Thomas Lindmer; & TED CASSIDY as the voices of both the demon BALZAROTH, as well as the comics' DORMAMMU.

Dr. Strange 1978 TV Guide ad

Peter Hooten as TV's Dr. Strange & Jessica Walter as Morgan LeFay

Sir John Millis as Lindmer

Former DR. STRANGE comic book artist FRANK BRUNNER was hired as the production's costume-design consultant. BRUNNER used a "star-burst" symbol design than the "demon" symbol usually worn by the comic-book DR. STRANGE as a more TV-friendly replacement, TV network fearing parents outcry of Satanism in the show.

TV's Dr. Strange by Brunner

TV's Lindmer by Brunner

TV's Morgan by Brunner

In an interview found in the January 1985 issue of COMICS FEATURE magazine, STAN LEE recounted largely positive experiences working on DOCTOR STRANGE, especially compared with the other live-action Marvel Comics adaptations under the publisher's development deal with CBS & UNIVERSAL in the late 1970s:

Just as with the HULK, LEE had few problems with the TV movie adaptation done of DR. STRANGE.
"I probably had the most input into that one. I've become good friends with the writer/producer PHIL DeGUERE. I was pleased with DR. STRANGE & The INCREDIBLE HULK. I think that DR. STRANGE would have done much better than it did in the ratings except that it aired opposite ROOTS. Those are the only experiences I've had with live action television. DR. STRANGE & the HULK were fine. CAPTAIN AMERICA was a bit of a disappointment & SPIDER-MAN was a total nightmare."

Jessica Walter on the set of Dr. Strange 1978
It was released to video in the 1980s where I found it. Not bad for a TV movie, if you don't mind the 1970s look which dates the movie hard. Hooten sports a mean-ass 1970s porn mustache & hairdo.

Then back in the early 1990s FULL MOON ENTERTAINMENT Producer-Director CHARLES BAND optioned DR. STRANGE from MARVEL COMICS with the intention of making a lie-action movie, but before production could begin, the option expired. Instead of just re-optioning DR. STRANGE from MARVEL again, BAND just re-wrote the script to include original characters. Now renamed DR. MORDRID, it starred JEFFREY COMBS as the lead & BRIAN THOMPSON as the villain KASAL, released direct-to-video in 1992.

Full Moon's Dr. Mordrid

Jeffrey Combs as Dr. Mordrid

Brian Thompson as Kasal

A fun film, I rented it as a teenager, watching it with my then girlfriend Mira, whom I tormented with my fanboy movie choices at the time.

Originally the character was to be called DR. MORTALIS with early design concepts done by an un-credited JACK KIRBY.   

Dr. Mortalis art by Jack Kirby

Finally in 2007 saw the release of the animated direct-to-DVD movie DOCTOR STRANGE: THE SORCERER SUPREME, voiced by BRYCE JOHNSON. The 4th animated film produced by LIONSGATE based on MARVEL COMICS characters, following ULTIMATE AVENGERS, ULTIMATE AVENGERS 2 & THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN. The movie was well received, I thought this would be as close to a movie release for DR. STRANGE until now.

Dr. Strange: the Sorcerer Supreme Animated Movie

Here's hopes that DOCTOR'S IN 2013.

Dr. Strange & Clea art by Kevin Nowlan
- Rajadevilman74

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