Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

It’s a good thing Marvel is stretching out this whole Avengers-movie thing. I mean, partly, because telling the story through separate movies is a much better idea than trying to cram the history of the bizarre smattering of characters that is the Avengers into a two hour travesty. But also, because hey- after they get done with this? They’ve kind of tapped out their major titles for full motion picture production. Don’t get me wrong- I’m one of those guys that’ll actually go pay money to see Spider-man part six, no matter how confused, outlandish, and rehashed the plot of said movie becomes (Sam Rami claims that he and Marvel producers had six films planned out, by the way. We’ll see…). But after the Avengers make their big screen debut, there are really only a few places left to go. That isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of lesser known characters that could make for a fantastic movie. I’d dig a Heroes for Hire film- that is, one starring Luke Cage and Danny Rand (A.K.A. Iron Fist), not the all T. and A. show lineup they’ve got parading around on the cover of the book these days. I think Cage is the man. He’s one of those characters that has just gotten better with age. Of course, there’s one card up their sleeve they haven’t played that I think would warrant some acclaim. I think a Dr. Strange movie could be phenomenal. While he’s got to be one of their most popular characters, Strange has rarely even had his own book throughout the last twenty years, only cameoing in others. Why do I get the feeling that even in a world populated with mutants, robots, Norse gods and the like, the prospect of having a lead character that relies on mystical incantations and tombs of Pagan-ish knowledge threatens to send readers of a more religious-inclination running out in the streets, screaming “Satanist” and what not? Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s just that it’s a HARD comic book to write well. Because frankly, it is totally out there- even by Marvel Comics standards. I love the old Doctor Strange series- it had a certain flavor all its own. It felt more like old 80’s horror movies- the original Nightmare on Elm Street and The Shining come to mind. IF someone were to take it upon themselves to relaunch an independent series for the sorcerer supreme or a movie, you can bet it would include an oft-overlooked favorite villain of mine: Baron Karl Mordo. The Baron: No, in this case, “Baron” is a real hereditary title that the man has. It isn’t a silly first name or a really bad attempt to put a new twist on the “Doctor” or “Mr.” motif that many super-heroes/villains use. Mordo’s family was nobility in the Marvel Comics version of Transylvania. You heard me right- Transylvania. Believe it or not, Dracula has been a character in Marvel comics from time to time. I know he’s fought the X-men on occasion. Weird, I know. Anyway: Mordo’s family received the title during World War I, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire supposedly held Transylvania. I’ll only share two brief anecdote’s regarding Mordo’s family history. It should suffice to encapsulate all you really need to know about who he is and where he comes from. The first? Mordo’s first tutor in black magic, his grandfather Viscount Krowler, not only worked to facilitate Adolf Hitler and the Red Skull’s rise to power during World War II in the hopes that the resulting chaos would LITERALLY release hell on earth by allowing the Dread Dormammu (the guy with flames for a head that Strange is always trying to keep “locked out” of our dimension?) to walk into our world, but also ordered his daughter to kill her husband, Mordo’s father, which she did, gleefully and without hesitation. And the second- Mordo was an exceptional pupil. So much so that he had his grandfather and mother killed in ritual sacrifice in a bid to gain favor from Dormammu directly. It worked. Runner-up and Extremely Evil: The Marvel Universe’s denizens should be very thankful that Stephen Strange existed. Because if he didn’t, The Ancient One’s mantle of Sorcerer Supreme would likely have passed on to Mordo. And keeping alien and demonic entities out of our world doesn’t seem high on his list. Quite the opposite even, when bargaining and power is involved. In all seriousness- Mordo is the Anti-Dr. Strange that superheroes should be very afraid of. Almost all of the things Strange can do, Mordo can replicate. He’s frequently allied himself with Dormammu and is at least partially responsible for the death of his second mentor, the Ancient One himself. Mordo is constantly either gunning for the title match with Strange he thinks he deserves or seeking out some sort of power that he can invoke that will trump Strange. While Mordo’s natural talent doesn’t always seem quite as strong as Stephen’s, he easily makes other magically inclined characters like Doom and even Agatha Harkness look like chumps. Time travel is a preferred trick of his, just to give you a taste of how ridiculously powerful this guy can be at times. At one point, Mordo sold his soul to two different demonic forces at the same time as part of an elaborate scheme to draw them into conflict. Mordo figured that Strange would have his hands so full keeping Mephisto and Satannish from blowing up Earth in the resulting conflict, he would be totally drained and unprepared when the Baron found him and let him have it with a couple of magic whammys. The Reason there isn’t a Dr. Strange movie?: Mordo is a scary villain because he so clearly IS all of the things a hypothetical alarmed and religious concerned citizen fears occultism is about. He uses ritual sacrifice, invokes demonic entities, and believes in scary, Satanist-esque values. He’s like Voldemort if J.K. Rowling lost her mind, took the child safety lock out of her writing, and made a novel along the lines of Harry Potter and the Blood Sacrifices to the Dread Dormammu of the Dark Dimension. I think I’ve made the picture pretty clear. Suggested Reading: It’s tough to get a good reading list together for the Baron, especially since Strange has only rarely had his own comic. But here’s a start, at least: Strange: Beginnings and Endings (An excellent retelling of Strange’s origin, including the Ancient One’s betrayal and murder at Mordo and Dormammu’s hands) The Essential Dr. Strange (Normally, I’m not interested in comic books written before the 1980’s, nor reprints that aren’t in color. I make an exception in this case- I love the second volume of this series, written through the 70’s, because true to its title it is just so damn WEIRD. Really, if nothing else this series is so different than most Marvel comics. Worth reading. And Mordo will show up, no matter what volume you get. He always does.)


  1. I think that a Dr. strange movie is a great idea and I am surprised that there is not more internet chattter about it...Marvel seems more intent on bringing captain america, thor or ant man into the marvel movie universe next-I don't think a Captain America movie makes a lot of sense at this point in US history, thor seems a lot like hulk in that it is hard to figure a human actor in this role, I don't quite understand the push for an ant man movie either...

    Dr. Strange might be better suited to the screen as it was one of the most cinematic super hero comics (especially when Ditko drew him in the 60's)-Also, he has a more interesting back-story than thor, ant man or even captain america-

    It should be easier to cast because it is not such an age specific role as say Spider-Man, Iron Man or the Punisher... Plus you don't have to worry about having an actor lifting weights to acquire a superhero's physique (as with TM and Spider-Man for instance)-A potential problem would be that Dr. Strange's rougues gallery would not be as rich as Spider Man's or even Iron Man's

    -Another issue might be that one Dr. Strange film might do very well, but it is hard to figure that there might be a clamor for more than one...Marvel has this problem with some of the films that have done well like Ghost Rider, Punisher, Daredevil and even Fantastic Four which might make money on the first go-round but don't necessarily have long range potential for sequels

    My casting choices would be Cilian Murphy, Daniel Day Lewis or Viggo Mortensen...maybe Clive Owen

    Directors? Guillermo Del Toro, Darren Aronovsky, David Lynch even...

  2. I'm equally surprised at the lack of internet fans flinging around ideas for a Strange movie. But then again, I'm surprised with the fact that their isn't a monthly Dr. Strange title right now, either.

    Lynch directing Strange would be phenomenal (read: terrifying). That's one of the best ideas I've heard in a long time.

    I completely agree with you in regards to Marvel's problem with sustaining the longevity of some of their big screen franchises. I think the biggest threat a comic book movie faces is not when it's a bad movie but a mediocre one. Not so terrible that it's going to get an overhaul, but not so great that it's going to get a sequel.

    Clive Owen would be a really interesting choice for Strange! I would never have thought of that.

    I actually had considered Viggo Mortensen as a possible Thor...I've wondered if they'll go all out and make a Thor movie completely steeped in Norse Mythology rather than have a guy flying around a city and what not.

    I agree that it is a controversial time to make a Captain America movie and it will likely need to be done extremely delicately. I once heard an interview (can't remember with who) in which a writer was asked whether the fans wrote in and frequently asked whether Cap was a Republican or a Democrat at heart. The writer replied that he liked to think of Cap as not Red, or Blue, but "kind of Purple". Making a movie that would genuinely aspire to ideals worth striving for, while not making Cap into a politicized stereotype of one kind or another, not portraying America as perfect and all that is right with the world, AND not portraying America as all that is wrong with the world, isn't easy. But in theory, I'd like to think it could make a good movie. In theory.

    Ant-man...hurts me. Badly. I don't think this is a story that needs to be told before the actual Avengers movie comes out. Very weird idea.

  3. I feel I should chime in regarding the Ant-Man bashing. The original Avengers consisted of Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Wasp Man and yes, Ant-man. Almost immediately though, Hulk left and was replaced by Captain America who I would think is a Democrat if the incidents in Civil War are any indication.

    Marvel's plan has been to establish the individual members of the Avengers in their own movies before the super team-up film, and it wouldn't surprise me if the first Avengers film has Hulk going on a rampage and pitting them against him, featuring the arrival of Captain America.


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