Robot 6

The Fifth Color | The fault in our Marvel stars

Keep runnin', little guy!  You'll make it to the big screen!

Keep runnin’, little guy! You’ll make it to the big screen!

The past few weeks have given us drips and drabs of drama regarding two movies on Marvel’s amazing slate of cinematic wonders: Ant-Man lost long-attached director Edgar Wright and hunted down a new one (successfully, I might add; Peyton Reed’s indie-comedy cred is solid with Mr. Show and Upright Citizens Brigade, plus Down With Love is a personal favorite), and Doctor Strange now has Scott Derrickson directing and a slew of casting rumors. It’s made my Twitter feed abuzz with opinions and fancasts and denouncements of studio interference in the creative efforts of the auteur. It seems everyone wants to talk about the next Marvel breakthrough hit.

But not the comics. God forbid we ever talk about the comics. Ant-Man and Doctor Strange are absent from the shelves, outside of cameos in Original Sin, a canceled gig on the FF for Scott Lang and … well, something odd going on with Doctor Strange in New Avengers. As I scroll through Tumblr and Twitter demands about how Doctor Strange and Ant-Man should be presented, no one seems all that keen on picking up a comic with either character in a starring role. When contradicting someone’s fancast, I offered my own choice for Doctor Strange as a Ming Doyle sketch, and was told that “drawings are not good actors.” Oh, man, I hope they were joking …

There’s a fervor attached to the new Marvel movies that I’m sad to see doesn’t extend to the comics on which they’re based. HBO’s Game of Thrones has convinced more people to read the phone book-sized novels more than a multimillion-dollar superhero movie has led people to pick up a new comic. Marvel movie canon is more accepted and understood than comic canon — and, let’s face it, that’s not a problem but a rather comfortable solution. Lots of people don’t even know where begin with the comics based on characters and stories they loved on the big screen without really knowing that those movies are all but primers for the source material. Except Spider-Man, because that’s another can of worms for another day.

Marvel editors and writers have often denied the influence of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the comic 616, noting that any similarity is purely coincidental or thought of long before the movies saw the light of day. It makes sense to say that for creative credibility, but would that influence really be so bad? I’m not talking dictation from the studios, just a little nod here and there, shaving off some rough edges, making sure that if movie-goers enjoyed the film, they could come into a comic shop and get something fresh off the shelves they could recognize (I’m looking at you, Spidey). Or better, could influence run in the other direction? It’s no coincidence that the Guardians of the Galaxy was overhauled and Bendis-ized in preparation for the big screen. Let’s look ahead to what kind of comics we could get from the next phase of Marvel films.

Ant-Man-Scott-and-Cassie-Lang-Marvel-Comics

Ant-Man will be released July 17, 2015, so there’s some time to get Scott Lang some presence on the shelves. But what kind of presence? Honestly speaking, I don’t think Ant-Man could hold his own in a regular series — and while guest appearances are nice, we’re looking for something that’s going to have his name on the cover, perhaps in a striking font to embed into the brains of movie audiences. He’s perfect for an original graphic novel or a miniseries, something short, fun and informative to get readers ready for a possible longer launch down the road. The movie looks like it’s going to have a fun and comedic tone, and it should be appropriate for younger viewers, as almost all Marvel Studios features have been. A book that retells Scott Lang’s origins, maybe offering his daughter’s perspective on having a unique dad, that all blends into a new adventure with four-color imaginative art with great facial expressions and comedic timing? It’s not going to do Wolverine numbers, but it should catch enough eyes to be viable as a miniseries or graphic novel.

Doctor Strange by Simone BianchiOn the other hand, I still think it’s a crime Doctor Strange doesn’t have an ongoing title. He’s too expansive a character to limit his scope and far too easy to use as a narrator for the great unknown. While the movie only really picked up legs recently with the announcement of Scott Derrickson in the director’s chair, I think it’s a good enough excuse to bring Strange back as a regular series. As Derrickson is known for his horror films, let’s focus the series on the Dark Dimension and all the monsters and demons you could shake a stick at. Hopefully, it would focus more on mystery than on effects, as Marvel continues to have a huge problem with the idea of Strange’s power set (recently, he gained even more power at a cost in New Avengers; note how it’s not exactly reflected in Original Sin). Let’s leave the powers for when they’re needed and focus the book around Strange being a surgeon turned mystic investigator. With Wong at his side, he could solve puzzles and mysteries every issue to keep the book quick and sustainable. Like Sherlock with magic. Hawkeye for Goths. The artwork should be wild and dark, both beautiful and monstrous. Heck, make Doctor Strange sexy, tall, dark and handsome; look what Robert Downey Jr. did for Tony Stark.

Both these movies are a long way off, but their comic counterparts are closer than we think, with larger budgets, less production drama and accessible to everyone. I didn’t name any names as far as who should write or illustrate these books because who better to get the real answers from but you, the public! Please be kind in our comments section and give out some ideas for who you think could do these characters justice. Excelsior!

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7 Comments

Oh man, I’d love Jeff Parker, Gail Simone (who did a great Atom run), Mark Waid, or Dan Slott on Ant-Man, for a slightly more adventure/humorous tone. But Matt Fraction could also bring a really cool science/intrigue take to the character. Not sure what’s going on with his character right now, but if not a solo title, an Ant-Man and the ____ title (similar structure to Aquaman and the Others) would be cool, he could lead a science adventure team with all the interesting dynamics that entails.

For Dr. Strange, my short list is: Jonathan Hickman, Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemuire, and Dan Slott again. Hickman has done some really cool stuff with Strange in New Avengers, and it’d be great to see him have a full series to flesh out those ideas and tone. Synder could bring the same level of recontextualizing while staying true to character with Strange that he’s doing on Batman for a really engaging take. Lemuire writes weird stuff amazingly, nuff said. And Slott would be the master of taking all the crazy backstories and past developments and tying it all back in a cool current Strange book that acknowledges the weirdness of everything he’s been through.

These are just off the top of my head, so definitely missing tons more writers that would be a perfect fit. And i didn’t even get into artists because there’s so many fantastically talented working right now that it’d just be a long laundry list.

Cinematically I very much feel like Marvel are positioning Dr. Strange as the “next” Iron Man, around whom to build a new era of Avengers, so it really is surprising not to see him being pushed into more prominence in the comics.

But, the current treatment of the Doc could very well be a precursor to his big “push”, so I am hopeful.

In New Avengers, Dr. Strange sold his soul for power to combat the incursion, so I would expect that the ramifications of that deal will lead to a prominent role in that storyline, plus some kind of solo comic attention in the aftermath of the event. Maybe a mini-series? If they plan on making a movie starring the character, you can be certain that at the least we’ll get a comic that features the good doctor.

Still waiting for Falcon’s solo…

Fraction’s take on Strange in his “Defenders” series was terrific. That’s the kind of characterization I think from which a film adaptation would benefit.

After that last issue, let the Moon Knight team relaunch Dr. Strange.

I’m with Steve. I thought Matt Fraction did a great job with Strange in “Defenders.” His solo Strange issue made me yearn for more of that. With that in mind, I’d love to see him work with either Ming Doyle (I can’t get over how awesome her sketch was) or Becky Cloonan. I can see both of them excelling in that kind of fantastical imagery.

Course, the Pretty Deadly team of DeConnick/Rios would be more than welcome too. Emma Rios already showed how well she does with Strange & co. & I imagine Kelly Sue DeConnick would have tons of fun fleshing out Strange.

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