Unlocking the Secrets of Doctor Strange: 6 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About the New Kid on the MCU Block

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Doctor Strange is set to hit the screens on November 5 after an excruciating wait, and I for one cannot wait to see Marvel’s latest addition to their ever-expanding cinematic universe.

If you want to brush up on your comic book history before seeing the movie, look no further. Here are 6 facts about everyone’s favourite scarlet-caped magic man:

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This Isn’t Doctor Strange’s First Movie

His first outing was in a made-for-TV movie that aired on CBS back in 1978. The network had high hopes for the DS franchise and were already planning to use the film as the jumping-off point for a weekly 1-hour TV series by the time it aired. However, despite its Incredible Hulk TV show being relatively successful, CBS soon found out that the Doctor Strange TV movie was a dud ratings-wise and scrapped their plans for a series soon afterwards. Doctor Strange also starred in his own animated feature film in 2007, called Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme.

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Benedict Cumberbatch Wasn’t the First Choice (or the Third!) to Play the Lead This Time Around

Given how comfortable he looks in recent trailers wearing that kick-ass red cape, you’d be forgiven for thinking everyone’s favourite British crumpet was the first and only choice to portray DS on the big screen… but you’d be wrong. The truth is that the producers were set on getting Joaquin Phoenix to play the iconic part, so much so that they spent 3 months negotiating with his agents to get him on board. After the deal fell through due to a money dispute, the producers then approached Johnny Depp and Jared Leto, both of whom turned it down. The uncertainty about Cumberbatch apparently stems from the producers’ worry that he’s not a big enough star to play the lead in a Marvel blockbuster. Try telling that to the Cumberb*tches!

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Doctor Strange Isn’t His Original Name

Stan Lee, the mastermind behind many of Marvel’s most successful comics, revealed in a fan letter back in 1963 that the Sorcerer Supreme was originally called Mr. Strange. Amid concerns that Mr. Strange might be confused with Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four franchise, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko decided to change the character’s name at the last minute. However, that wasn’t the end of the problem, as The Amazing Spider-Man comics had an issue featuring a mad scientist called Dr. Strange. In order to distinguish Doctor Strange from his villainous namesake, Lee and Ditko decided to spell the word ‘Doctor’ in full instead of using the traditional abbreviation.

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His Character is Inspired by a 1930s Radio Magician

Stan Lee and Steve Ditko shared a childhood fondness for a 1930s radio program, Chandu the Magician, which featured a sorcerer with the powers of teleport, astral projection and general mind trickery that was hell-bent on conquering the evils that threatened humankind. Sound familiar? Yep, you guessed it, Doctor Strange’s abilities, motivation and black magic mystique are all inspired by that very same magician.

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He is Not a Fully-Fledged Avenger

While Doctor Strange joined the New Avengers back in 2008, and has fought alongside them on numerous occasions (including in the Avengers Vs. X-Men comic book story arc), he has never been a member of the core Avengers team. The closest he has come to being in the inner circle is his involvement with the Illuminati, a group of super-powered intellectual elites working behind the scenes to protect humanity from major threats – this group included Iron Man, Professor X and Mr. Fantastic, so it was basically a Mad Scientists’ Tea Party (only with more fighting and less patisserie). There’s still a good chance he might show up in 1 or 2 of the Avengers movies though.

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…But He’s a Founding Member of The Defenders

Doctor Strange might never have been an Avenger, but that doesn’t mean he always operates solo. In fact, Doctor Strange is 1 of 4 founding members of The Defenders (the other 3 being the Hulk, the Silver Surfer and Namor the Sub-Mariner), a group that now counts Nighthawk, Hellcat, Luke Cage and Beast amongst its ranks. The Defenders differ from the Avengers in that they are not a “team” per se – it’s more accurate to say they’re a bunch of super-people who come together as and when needed to protect the Earth from the latest deadly threat. With crossovers happening all over the MCU, there’s a chance some of these other characters might make it to the big screen as part of the ongoing franchise.  

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If you know any other weird and wonderful facts about Doctor Strange, why not share them in the comments below? 

(Images: CBS, Marvel, Wikipedia)

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So Who’s It Gonna Be? The 11 Contenders to Meet Lucille Head-On in Tonight’s Walking Dead Episode

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After waiting almost half a year to find out who Negan’s victim is going to be after the Season 6 finale left us on the most frustrating cliff-hanger ever, fans of The Walking Dead will finally get some answers, as AMC air the Season 7 premiere on Sunday, October 23.

If you need a recap of all the people potentially about to meet a sticky and rather prickly end, look no further. Here are the 11 contenders for a one-on-one with Lucille:

Glenn

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Why He’s a Contender:

It’s supposed to be him in the comic books… which means everyone’s convinced it won’t actually be him because it’s just too damn obvious. Think about it – it’s the perfect double bluff. Plus, he was in the van, meaning those first-person POV shots might be from his perspective.

Why He Might Be Safe:

The show’s creators went to an awful lot of trouble in Season 6 to save Glenn from almost certain death, and it would be odd if they did all that just to finish him off half a season later.

Michonne

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Why She’s a Contender:

Michonne and Rick have just started doing the dirty and they’re all dopey-happy in love. She’s even making a pretty good mother-substitute for Carl. Most people in the TWD Universe don’t stay happy for long. Rick and Carl would both be devastated – it would be a clever move by Negan to crush Rick with grief and cloud his judgment. Plus, she was 1 of 3 people in the van in those intriguing first-person POV shots, suggesting she might be in the firing line.

Why She Might Be Safe:

In the comics, Michonne survives this encounter with Negan and goes on to play an important part in the Alexandria story arc. Killing her off at this early stage makes it a lot more difficult to stay in sync with the comics (although another strong female character could step up to take her place).

Daryl

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Why He’s a Contender:

Norman Reedus’ appearance on The Talking Dead immediately following the Season 6 finale got fans worried, as actors often do this once their on-screen counterpart has been offed. Also, the popularity of Ride with Norman Reedus (also on AMC) might lead to everyone’s favourite hick hanging up his crossbow for good in search of greener pastures. Finally, he was in the van with Glenn and Michonne, and those first-person POV shots suggest that puts him directly in harm’s way.

Why He Might Be Safe:

WE WILL RIOT.

Maggie

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Why She’s a Contender:

If the creators have gone ahead and substituted Glenn for someone else, there could be no more poignant choice than Maggie. Loved by everyone, she’s a survivor whose pregnancy makes her inherently vulnerable to Negan’s special brand of senseless, all-out psychotic attacks. The group would be too shocked to resist whatever else Negan’s got in store, or could lose it completely.

Why She Might Be Safe:

She’s sick… and PREGNANT. The show has given us some pretty gruesome deaths in the past, but I find it hard to believe that they’re going to stoop so low as to beat someone in Maggie’s condition to death. It would be the most shocking exit so far bar none.

Abraham

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Why He’s a Contender:

His refusal to cower at Negan’s feet like the others in the Season 6 finale was ballsy, but it might just be what gets him killed. I get the feeling Negan isn’t going to let someone like that stick around for long. Plus, he’s just gotten all zen about his place in the world and has even started a little something with Sasha (much to Rosita’s dismay). Quashing happiness is what TWD does best.

Why He Might Be Safe:

Anyone familiar with the comics will know that Abraham was due to get bumped off mid-way through Season 6, but in the end, it was Denise who ended up with an arrow through the eyeball. It’s possible that the show’s creators have something else in mind for ol’ Abe, in which case he might be safe from Negan (for now, at least).

Carl

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Why He’s a Contender:

The show’s creators are no stranger to violence against children – I mean, who could forget Carol’s now-iconic “look at the flowers” scene with Lizzie? – and Carl’s far from being a fan favourite. It would have a sizeable impact upon the group and no-one would have to listen to Rick scream “CAAARRRRL!!!” anymore. Everyone wins.

Why He Might Be Safe:

In the Season 6 finale, Negan can be heard saying directly before he starts smashing that “if anybody says anything, cut the boy’s other eye out and feed it to his father.” Rather an odd statement if Carl’s about to go under the bat.

Rick

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Why He’s a Contender:

He’s been the leader of the group pretty much since the start – Negan might choose him purely for that reason. Disorganised people are a hell of a lot easier to subjugate.

Why He Might Be Safe:

Seriously, as if they’re gonna kill off Rick!!!

Eugene

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Why He’s a Contender:

Eugene’s been a bit gung-ho lately, so there’s a chance that the show might decide to take him out, just as he’s adapting to the Hell that is Walker-World.

Why He Might Be Safe:

This change in the attitude could just as easily be the start of something wonderful: Eugene finally using his smarts to give the group a strategic advantage in future tussles. As of yet, he’s been hiding behind everyone else so it’d be nice to see his character become something more.

Rosita

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Why She’s a Contender:

Now that Abraham’s walked out on her for Sasha, she’s bound to do the whole gloomy ex thing – it might be the show creators have decided to avoid that completely in the most brutal way possible. Plus, it would make Abraham feel really bad.

Why She Might Be Safe:

Her death probably wouldn’t have as big of an impact on the whole group as some of the other choices in this list. She’s cool and everything, but she’s easily replaceable, and I think the sheer genericity of her character might save her from Negan’s bat.

Sasha

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Why She’s a Contender:

She’s just started getting cosy with Abraham, and as I keep saying, happiness is lethal in TWD. Plus, her getting killed now would push the ginger warrior right over the edge.

Why She Might Be Safe:

Sasha had that whole ‘finding the will to live again’ thing going on throughout Season 5, which would be little more than filler if they kill her off now. She could be the next female resident bad-ass, given half the chance.

Aaron

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Why He’s a Contender:

If AMC decide to take the easy way out, killing Aaron off could serve as a way to demonstrate what a psychotic lunatic Negan is without actually damaging the core dynamics of the group.

Why He Might Be Safe:

Let’s face it – no-one really gives a crap about Aaron yet, including the other characters. If he’s chosen as Negan’s victim, it’s going to be one almighty anti-climax.

So, who do you think it’s going to be? Vote below!

 

 

Now, I’m going to put forward a little theory of my own: not one, but two, of Rick’s gang are going to feel the brunt of Negan’s barbed-wire baseball bat, Lucille – and there’s a very good reason why I think so.

Much of the fanbase for the show are also familiar with the comic books, meaning pretty much everyone has been waiting for Negan to show up and beat one of our favourite characters to death (y’know, like you do). The script-writers have swapped deaths and character arcs around before – for instance, when Hershel ended up getting his head chopped off by the Governor in Tyreese’s place – so simply subbing Glenn with someone else doesn’t justify the cliff-hanger. They would have had much more impact with a close-up shot, gory as hell, and ended on that.

Unless there’s a hidden twist set to shock everyone tuning in for Season 7.

The audience automatically assumes that the first-person POV shot that closes the Season 6 finale, and every one that comes before it (the emergence from the van, for instance), is from the POV of the same person. However, there’s nothing to confirm that’s actually true… and that’s the beauty of the twist.

I think someone who wasn’t in the van (i.e. not Daryl, Michonne or Glenn) will get up close and personal with Lucille first, because that throws off all theories that the POV shots confirm that they’re in the firing line. My guess is Abraham – he’s the only one who doesn’t cower to Negan and I think his death would really drive home the fact that resistance is not an option.

Then in the immediate aftermath, when we think everyone else is safe, someone else will also get killed – if not beaten to death, then killed in some other gruesome way. Glenn is my guess.

We’ll just have to wait until later to see if I’m right.

(Images: AMC)

Good News! Studio Ghibli’s Ronja the Robber’s Daughter is Coming to Amazon Prime

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After Studio Ghibli announced in 2014 that it would shutting down film production in the wake of co-founder Hayao Miyazaki’s retirement, anime fans were left in mourning.

However, Studio Ghibli fans in the West finally had reason to celebrate today after Amazon announced that it was picking up three new children’s series for its Prime streaming service, one of which is Studio Ghibli’s first ever TV show, Ronja the Robber’s Daughter – directed by Goro Miyazaki, the son of Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki (best known for his work on Tales from Earthsea and From Up on Poppy Hill), and animated by CGI animation studio Polygon.

The series is based on a fantasy novel by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren (yes, that Astrid Lindgren), following the adventures of the adolescent daughter of a professional robber (Ronja) whose friendship with a member of a rival gang (Birk) makes her life very complicated indeed… and that’s before you take account of the slew of strange creatures she encounters in the enchanted forest!

Although the series aired in Japan between October 2014 and March 2015 and has already gained critical acclaim (winning Best 2D Animation at the Asian Television Awards and an International Emmy in the Kids/Animation category), this is the first time the 26-episode series will be dubbed and aired abroad. The series is due to premiere on Amazon in the US, UK, Germany and Austria later this year (exact date TBC).

The main changes will, of course, be the language – this new English dub will see The X-Files‘ Gillian Anderson take up the mic again (having voiced Moro in the English dub of Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke) as narrator; no doubt she will soon be joined by an all-star cast.

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If you’d like a sneak peek, take a look at the Japanese trailer here.

(Images: Studio Ghibli, Wikipedia)