Doctor Strange (Marvel): the story of the first movie you’ve never seen


If you are a fan of the MCU, you will surely be looking forward to the next one. Doctor strange in the multiverse of madnessthat lands on French screens May 4th. You’ve probably also seen the first Sorcerer Supreme movie, released in 2016. But did you know that these two works weren’t the only ones to have the “Master of the Mystic Arts” as their hero?

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And yes ! in 1978the first adventure of superheroes already aired on american television. We saw it, and it tells you all about the history of that first doctor strange movie…which was one of Marvel’s favorite adaptations of Stan Lee !

Marvel, from comics to TV

First appearing in July 1963 on the pages of Marvel comics, the character of Doctor Strange gradually became a popular hero of the House of Ideas, to a point where adaptation of his adventures became apparent. .

Back in the ’70s, long before it dominated the big screen, Marvel was effectively conquering the small. The firm had already produced a series The amazing Spider Manthat will only last 2 seasons and 13 episodes, and The incredible Hulkwhich will be a huge success with 5 seasons and 82 episodes.

Determined to establish their mark, Marvel decides to test Doctor Strange’s popularity with a tv movie. This should then serve as a pilot, for a possible future tv series. But the result will not really live up to expectations…

The ambitious telefilm is broadcast, full of hope, on the afternoon of September 6, 1978 In the chain CBS. But at the end of the afternoon, the ax falls: doctor strange achieves bad grades and becomes a failure. In question, the broadcast at the same time of the popular miniseries Estatebut also for a soft plot, and too abstract for the public of the time.

a strange adaptation

The film, soberly titled doctor strangeis produced, written and directed by Philip Deguere Jr. . A television veteran, he is best known for his work on American series. the burning heads, baretta Y TIP. Having become good friends with Stan Lee, DeGuere Jr. doctor strange his royal heart project.

With a comfortable TV budget, this adaptation is going to take some liberties with the source material. Doctor Stephen Strange is no longer a renowned neurosurgeon, but becomes a psychiatrist. And the Ancient One, the hero’s mentor, is replaced by a man named Thomas Lindmar, who resembles the Merlin of the Arthurian legends. the character of wongembodied in the MCU by actor Benedict Wongis present.

The actor peter hotenmodestly known from movies killer whales Y a bunch of bastards, plays the main role. He is accompanied in particular by the Oscar winner. john mills (the great expectations) and a young Jessica Walter (arrested development, Goalkeeper).

The story is for the completely new occasion. Here it is the official synopsis of the movie :

The legendary Morgan LeFay is sent to Earth to dominate the souls of men. To combat his evil magic, the elderly wizard Thomas Lindmer must entrust the guardianship of his power to a young psychiatric resident, Dr. Stephen Strange, who is unaware of his fate. The latter will have to accept his destiny as sorcerer supreme and protector of humanity against demonic and extradimensional threats.

Shot at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, the film exceeds its shooting schedule by several days. The reason ? The many visual effects that were difficult to achieve at the time, particularly the multiple overlays on a green screen.

  • Watch the trailer for Dr. Strange (1978):

Our review of Dr. Strange (1978)

Admittedly, this first Sorcerer Supreme adventure isdeadly boredom. Most of the movie looks like a medical drama quite poorly written, where the only considerations of our hero are the handling of his patients, and his discussions with his hierarchical superior. The hero is even relatively set aside, to follow the adventures of Clea Lake, possessed by the evil Morgan LeFay.

We have come several times to verify that we are indeed seeing a Marvel adaptation, both the film lack of rhythm, ideas and even a coherent plot Minimally superhero. The rare scenes that are a bit fantastical suffer from their television budget, from cardboard decorations that are too cheap. VFX are limited to a few extremely dated flares and overlays (as a reminder, we’re a year away from the release of the first Star Wars). Just a sequence of interdimensional trance comes to save us a bit of boredom.

and if this doctor strange has an undeniable vintage charm that will amuse some, Marvel fans may be disappointed: the title hero only really appears in the last 20 minutes of the TV movie. Rated 5.1/10 on IMDb and 57% by viewers on Rotten Tomatoes, the film doesn’t quite get over its curiosity status.

However, in an interview from 1984, Stan Lee he says it’s one of his favorite marvel adaptations : “It’s probably the movie I contributed the most to. I became really good friends with writer/producer Phil DeGuere. I was really happy with Dr. Strange and The Incredible Hulk. (…) These are the only experiences I’ve had.” I had with live tv. Dr. Strange and The Incredible Hulk were fine. Captain America was a bit of a disappointment, and Spider-Man was a total nightmare.”

If, despite everything, you are curious to discover this first adaptation of doctor strangeI know there is a DVD of the film released in 2015 and available on Amazon and Rakuten. and that the editor Shouts! Factory even recently released a Blu-ray. And for fans of Sorcerer Supreme, Marvel, and magic, you don’t have to wait long for the release of Doctor strange in the multiverse of madness May 4th.

  • Watch the trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness:

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