The Sky is Falling! Or Something Like That…

One could be forgiven for thinking that something truly terrible had happened over at Marvel Studios the way that some fans have been taking to social media to express their anger and distress this afternoon.  So what happened to make a part of the fandom loose their collective minds?  Well, if you believe the internet, Benedict Cumberbatch has been cast as the title character in Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange movie.  The problem is, that isn’t exactly true.

To quote from the article that broke this news earlier today, “I’m hearing Benedict Cumberbatch is the studio’s choice for the superhero pic, and negotiations are about to begin.”  To point out the obvious, the fact that Marvel would like Cumberbatch to play the role, and that they’re just starting to talk to him about that does not make it a done deal.  Marvel’s negotiations with Joaquin Phoenix broke down right around Comic Con, so there’s no reason to believe that it might not happen again.  Cumberbatch is a busy man these days, so he might turn it down for scheduling reasons.  That’s not to say that it’s a bad idea for Cumberbatch to play the role, in fact I think he would do quite well, but let’s break down exactly why this casting is causing so much frustration.

Northern Overexposure

So one of the most common complaints about this casting I’ve seen is, “He’s overexposed.”  Now, I feel that this is a valid complaint.  As I said, the man’s busy.  Not only is he dealing with the final Hobbit movie, he’s also got the second Hollow Crown series, and The Penguins of Madagascar and a whole slew of other projects.  So I can certainly see how a bit of Cumberfatigue might be setting in.  But there are still plenty of people who like the guy and who will happily shell out to see him on the big screen.

White Knight?

Diversity in casting is a big problem in the movie industry right now.  And the problem isn’t any better over in the comics industry.  And a lot of fans are disappointed that Marvel hasn’t been talking to any POC actors about the role.  Now, not to sound like a massive dick, but Stephen Strange isn’t a POC.  If you look at his Marvel Wiki character page, it lists his parents as Eugene and Beverly Strange and his birthplace as Philadelphia, PA; and he spent his childhood at the family farm in Nebraska.  Not to say that he couldn’t be cast as a POC, but if they’ve decided that they want to stick to cannon, yeah, they’re gonna cast the guy as white.

Now before anyone starts screaming about White Privilege, let me say this.  I would like to see a POC actor in the role myself, I’d really like Alexander Siddig to take the role; but it isn’t my decision, it’s Marvel’s.  And in the end, we’re all going to have to live with that and decide whether or not casting a white actor in a role that a lot of people would have liked to see a POC actor take is worth not going to see it.

Safety First

The third most common complaint I’ve seen is that Cumberbatch is too safe a choice.  I think that this ties in with the overexposure complaint.  He’s a bankable star name, and that’s true.  But here’s the thing, Doctor Strange isn’t a character that most people outside of the comic fandom are familiar with.  To be honest, he seems a bit second string to me.  Important yes, but not someone a lot of fans would know really well.

Now Marvel has done well casting unknowns in the past, but maybe they feel that the movie might do better if it has a name star attached to it.  And lightning seldom strikes twice.  Still, Hollywood does have a reputation for not taking chances when they should, and this might be one of those times.  But I still think that Cumberbatch would do well in the role, and I’d like to see fans give him a chance.

TL;DR

In the end, this is just another rumor.  And as such, I’m taking it with a few pounds of salt.  Marvel will announce who they’ve decided to cast when they’re ready to do so.  And all the metaphorical gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair in the world probably won’t have much of an effect on their decision.  So just calm down, take a breath, and wait.  Marvel might just surprise us.

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Doctor Who: Flatline First Impressions

So, was last week the start of a trend? Or just a fluke? Let’s find out.

• Good, creepy cold open. I like it.
• Methinks that the Doctor is suspicious of Clara’s insistence that Danny’s cool with her traveling with  the Doctor.
• The Readings are Ishy: That can’t be good.
• It’s the Incredible Shrinking TARDIS! With apologies to Richard Matheson.*
• Speaking of shrinking; Clara’s right, the tiny TARDIS is cute.
• A short note on tech here: I really love the way that they’ve been showing more varied kinds of tech in the show lately, not just sonicing everything and calling it a day.
• I’m the Doctor: On the one hand, good for Clara showing initiative like that. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that being the Doctor is a lot harder than it looks.
• An Inconvenient Call: Well, that wasn’t awkward at all!
• The Art and Skill of Lying: Well the Doctor would know, wouldn’t he?
• Taking Charge: Now this I find interesting; Clara is basically acting as an extension of the Doctor, which means that she feels the responsibility that the Doctor must feel for getting everyone out alive. And sometimes that means having to rhetorically smack a bitch. Which explains why the Doctor gets so pissy when people as the age old “Who put you in charge?” question.
• You know, when you start really thinking about the concept of two dimensional aliens, it’s really cool.
• Doing the “Thing”: So clever, you wonder why the Doctor didn’t think of it first.
• Also, the Doctor’s little dance, I can’t be the only one who thought it was kind of cute.
• Somehow I knew that ramming the train into the aliens wouldn’t do anything. So, yeah, Rigsy’s sacrifice wouldn’t have done anything. So, bonus points to Clara for stopping him.
• For some reason, I really like the idea of graffiti saving the world.
• Clara is a good Doctor: Yeah, more on that later.
• I am the Man Who Stops the Monsters: Oh snap, 2D aliens are going down!
• Sometimes the Wrong People Live: Ain’t that the truth.
• Goodness had Nothing to do With It: Here’s the thing, I don’t think that the Doctor likes the idea of anyone having to make the kind of decisions that he has to make all the time. So now imagine that the Doctor has seen his companion having to make those kinds of decisions twice now. The first time was by his own choice, still not sure what that was all about, and this latest time, he had no choice in the matter. Something tells me he’s trying to prepare Clara for something; I’m just not sure what yet. I’m kind of wondering though if this situation isn’t a lot like the Seventh Doctor preparing Ace for whatever he was preparing her for.
• I Chose Well: Oh, hello there “Clara is the answer to everything” sub-plot. I didn’t miss you at all.

This one was rather meh in my eyes. Not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but not really a stand-out episode either. There was some good character stuff for Clara and the Doctor, and once again the side characters were well done and interesting. But I know Doctor Who can be better than this, and that’s the most frustrating part of this series.

Next week will either feature tigers heavily, or William Blake. Not sure which. Also, more Danny. Five bucks says he finds out that Clara’s been lying to him.

*Google him.

Doctor Who: Mummy on the Orient Express First Impressions

Ok, so this one wasn’t quite the copy of the Titanic episode that everyone thought it would be.  Was it better than last week?  Yes, and no.

  • Digging Foxes swing version of Don’t Stop Me Now.  Hope they come out with an mp3 of it.
  • Doctor, shut up and let Clara talk about her feelings.  You need to hear what she’s saying.
  • Give it up you two, you know you’re getting involved in this thing.
  • I liked the parallels between Clara and Maisie, and I kind of wish that the Doctor and Maisie could have spent some time together, it would have been interesting to see their interactions.
  • Speaking of interesting guest characters, Perkins was pretty cool.
  • Jelly Babies!!!
  • There were a lot of cool side characters in this episode, not just Maisie and Perkins, but the Mythology professor and the Captain too.  Where the heck have these guys been?!
  • Again, very good monster design.  The special effects team have been working overtime this series.
  • Now the question of who was controlling Gus; part of me thinks that this has something to do with Missy and her crew.  I have no real evidence of this, just a gut feeling.
  • And here we are again, the Doctor is acting like a dick and this time he’s dragging Clara down with him.  She has every right to be mad at him, and I’m not entirely sure why she lies to Maisie.
  • As for the Doctor, he was making that up as he went along.  Classic Doctor really.  Nice follow through on the Maisie situation though.
  • The presence of Perkins at the end tells me that the Doctor did save everyone, but it was nice to hear him say that sometime you do have to choose between the lesser of two evils.
  • Clara: Danny said it’s okay!  Me: *Facepalm* Clara, did you learn nothing from the Caretaker incident?

Overall I enjoyed this episode.  It was a nice change from Kill the Moon and it was certainly better from my perspective.

Next week looks different, not sure what else to say until I see it.