So, El Mayimbe over at Latino Review chose the day before one of the biggest American holidays to post his second video recapping the plot of the proposed Doctor Strange film. I was doing other things over the Fourth, and missed it until today. I apologize and I hope I didn’t force you to go over to that site to look for it.
Part one of my recap is here.
Okay, the video is embedded below. If you choose to watch it, I’d recommend fast-forwarding to about 45 seconds to avoid the plea for the Indie GoGo campaign for El Mayimbe’s film project (Delivered by El Mayimbe himself, no less, in his secret identity). Once again, the clip art and special effects are spectacular.
If you don’t care to watch it, here is a recap. We pick up with Stephen Strange still destitute and working as a back-alley doctor to assorted shady individuals (I am not making this up) The black sparkly lights lead him to an abandoned warehouse where an ailing Ancient One lies, dying (I am not making this up). Strange almost gets killed by the Ancient One’s protector/his future love interest, an Asian woman named Jade (I am not making this up). He is saved when the real threat arrives in the form of an evil, demonic-looking, panther-like beast called a Reaper. The Reaper goes after Strange and almost gets him until Strange uses magic (I am not making this up) to shoo the Reaper away where it can be killed by Jade.
Strange goes back to the Ancient One and operates on him (I am not making this up). Jade knocks Strange out with a nerve pinch (I am not making this up) and wakes up back in his apartment. There, he finds a Chinese take out menu (I am not making this up) with an invitation from the Ancient One and a promise that all of his questions will be answered.
The Ancient One owns a Chinese restaurant (I am not making this up) and has Strange deliver 10 bags of food to Bellvue Hospital (I am not making this up) including one to a patient that can make himself invisible. At the bottom one of the bags, like a Happy Meal toy, Strange finds the powerful Eye of Agamatto (I am not making this up).
On the subway ride back from his deliveries, Strange falls asleep and starts to have an out of body experience. It’s here where he meets Baron Mordo, who explains that Strange is astral projecting and his body is actually now dead (I am not making this up). Mordo gives Strange a tour of magical battlegrounds where mystical battles have been fought in the past, ending up at Stonehenge (I am not making this up). There Mordo points out demonic imagery in ancient art, and says the Earth has had a long standing war with demonic invasion. He then allows Strange to see a battle at Stonehenge that happened 2,000 years before Christ (I am not making this up). Mordo also says that demons have come close to breaking through in the past, at Sodom and Gomorrah, Pompeii and Chernobyl (I am not making this up). The Mordo calls Strange the magicians “number one draft pick.” (I am not making this up).
I am sorry to go into so much detail, but I felt the need so you would know how silly and stupid this plot sounds.
Now, if I were generous, I’d say that El Mayimbe got his hands (or, perhaps more accurately, was told what was in) an early treatment or first draft of a script. Because there are so many elements that are in here that go against everything that we have seen in Marvel films to this point so it just doesn’t ring true. If I wasn’t being generous, I’d think El Mayimbe’s source is deliberately feeding him false information to make him look bad.
My problems come down to three main points. First, Marvel Films typically don’t mess around with the origins or their characters unless they can make it better. The changes here are not making it better. In case you were wondering, in comics, after Strange loses everything, he goes on a journey to find a cure for his hands, which cannot stop trembling. He ends up in the Himalayas and there’s where he meets the Ancient One. He saves the old man, not from some medical malady, but from an assassination plot from Baron Mordo. It after that the old man trains Strange to become a sorcerer.
Too silly to be his film origins? In a world of alternative medicine, self-help gurus and spiritual retreats, I don’t think so. And as an origin, it shows a man who fell as far as he can go, loses everything, travels the ends of the Earth to get everything back, and discovers a new path in life and builds himself back up to become a better man. That’s a hell of a lot more interesting than saying Strange had magical powers all the time and accidentally stumbles upon a Chinese chef who pulls him into a centuries-old war he is ill prepared for (but likely will win anyway).
And what’s the deal with the Asian stereotypes? A neck pinch? The Ancient One owning a Chinese restaurant? A female warrior named Jade? Considering the hoops Marvel went through to make Iron Man 3 palatable to the Chinese market, I can’t see them releasing this as is.
And finally, the plot seems like just a collection of “Wouldn’t it be cool if we did this” moments forced into a semblance of a story. The Eye of Agamatto, one of Doctor Strange’s most powerful weapons, found in the bottom of a take-out bag like a fortune cookie? A while a neurosurgeon being an expert on all forms of surgery is a stretch, having a neurosurgeon who has serious nerve damage to his hands do surgery that is not his specialty on a mobster at gunpoint is completely absurd. You’d have to suspend a truckload of disbelief just to make the film last into a second act.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a fanboy rampage. This is me stating reasons why the plot El Mayimbe is working from either is not legit or will be much different in its final form. Part three should hit this week. We’ll see what else changes then.