Dr. Strange (1978)
Believe it or not, the Marvel MCU isn't the first time Marvel tried to corner the market. Back in the late 70s, comic book superheroes were just nudging themselves into our lives. By launching made-for-TV movies such as 'The Incredible Hulk' (which was ultimately successful) and 'The Amazing Spider-Man' (which was not so successful, but still made it somewhere) Marvel had a pretty good thing going at the time in answer to the very successful ongoing DC franchise of 'Batman'. Of course, 'Batman' was always better in comparison, but... Adam West kinda seals the deal on that one. Anyway, one attempt at bringing a property to the small screen included that of 'Dr. Strange'.
The film opens up with an evil being of some sorts talking to Morgan Le Fay (Jessica Walter). He tells her that he can't enter the Earthly realm due to a powerful wizard who is holding him at bay. He then gives her instructions to destroy the wizard, and to win over his apprentice to their side within three days time.
Morgan possesses a lady by the name of Clea Lake (Anne-Marie Martin), and makes her drop the Sorcerer Supreme, Thomas Lindmer (John Mills) from a bridge. He gets up, brushes himself off, and onlookers are mind-blown that he's miraculously okay. His friend Wong (Clyde Kusatsu) takes care of him afterword, and locates Lake for him. She is being looked after by psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Strange (Peter Hooten) as she now suffers from psychic aftereffects from the possession, and is also haunted by terrible nightmares.
Eventually we learn that Dr. Strange has a psychic connection with Lake, and is ultimately considered a prime candidate for Lindmer's successor. He is soon enough charged with the task of protecting Earth from Le Fay, and the evil entity trying to break through to Earth realm.
When all said and done, the movie was just a long, boring, and downright confusing waste of time. It ended up failing pretty hard as a pilot at the time. It was somehow a film ahead of it's time that people weren't quite ready for, and yet it's such a boggled mess watching it now, it almost feels like it's more confusing by today's standards. It's nearly impossible to tell what's a dream and what's not, and all in all, it just belongs in a list of bad 'Mystery Science Theater'-worthy films.
The really sad thing is you can tell by watching that this was a work the creators took very seriously at the time. But there were things to consider. People could relate to 'The Incredible Hulk' 'cause it was basically about a mild-mannered man who can get away with rage fits and destruction once in a while, but is ultimately good. We could relate. And even taking it a step further with 'Spider-Man'. It's pretty bad to look at now, but... well, I don't need to tell you, it's 'Spider-Man' - one of the most relatable heroes there ever was. 'Dr. Strange' on the other hand is all about otherworldliness and the mystique of the universe and parallel dimensions, so by that respect it could get incredibly confusing. But it's all helmed by a Stephen Strange we can't relate to as well as the portrayal done by Benedict Cumberbatch in the 2016 film. He lost the use of his hands and had to learn that not all his ability lied in what he could do as a surgeon. This Dr. Strange is... pretty much just a psychiatrist. I think they tried to go the "average joe" route with it, but it doesn't work the same way here. The other stories had underlying messages about power, responsibility, control, and doing what's right. 'Strange' was far more about just trying to look cool and had a sort of "destiny" element to it, like a "chosen one". And that's fine, but it's something more of an epic movie or novel plot than a TV series. It was trying to be something new, but in the end, it just didn't pan out.
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