Hello everyone. Batman is a special character for me (because I cannot be certain if I am not Batman), and, I didn’t particularly like the recent Nolan trilogy of films!!! They had the elements of the character all there but made him way too blatent in delivery. It just all read wrong.
The translation of character and story from one genre to another takes SO MUCH more than just transliteration! Everything that grew and worked and contextualised in four-colour panel, everything that filled that form and then manipulated it to reach beyond itself to become transformative [art], everything that emerged during the 1960s (and there is a whole, American history that nurtures the bloom of Marvel and DC during this decade and the next); all this needs to be deconstructed and re-realised to make it anything more than a literal, phonetic transliteration which doesn’t enable anyone in any way to speak a different language … anyway, I digress,
I hear that another seminal character of mine is being put to film – Dr Strange. I once put a pitch about filming Dr Strange to the Longbox Graveyard but he laughed me back into the box (if you make the link you can read his ripost – I like the guy, but he has dollar signs as pupils). I still like the pitch, however:
Dr Strange operates in worlds which are ‘mystical’ in the sense that they function within natural laws and forces which are alternate to our own – they are worlds which we just don’t get and it would be better for us that we didn’t know about them so we can continue functioning ourselves. And yet Stephen Strange is of and from this world – he is all too human but has mastered the Mystic Arts. He therefore lives between the two worlds – the physical/political and the occult worlds – or rather he lives amid at the same time. He is ‘strange’ because he bridges these two worlds, and this is the central pull of the character for me.
In comics the ‘occult’ world was depicted fantastically (the floating-island footsteps of Ditko, the swirls of Colan) because it was a visual medium meant for younger audiences (growing up); but the occult world doesn’t so much ‘look’ strange (like a childishly re-arranged physical world), in fact it isn’t even a different world it is the same world ‘seen’ (and ‘heard’ and ‘felt’ and acted in) differently. What was equally attractive about Dr Strange (and under-used in the comics) was the depiction of the character in ordinary, recognisable surroundings but knowing he was actually operating in a world out of the space-time continuum. I would conceive that Strange’s ‘battles’ took place while he was strolling through a park, while walking on the street, in the blink of an Eye (herm).
I once heard David Lynch talk about how he achieves his perspectives in his work is by ‘filming through the eye of a duck’ meaning that he doesn’t just film ‘lineally’ he films simultaneously/alternately – he shoots a scene/whole films which physically depict one narrative but which affectively show an alternate landscape in which they play out. What better ‘mise-en-scene’ist than David Lynch to depict the life of a character who has ‘mastered’ the arts of living bridged across two worlds-in-one? No need of CGI, no need of costumes, not even much need of action! I know, I know, not the ingredients for your standard summer blockbuster money-maker. But they have been done and will continue to be done under their own momentum. Dr Strange, as you mention, has always been a peripheral character because he is so … strange. Perhaps this would be time to make a different take on the comics-to-film translation formula …
Anyhoo … I would like to steal some of the hype and hollywood on the project by publishing a series of poeviews on the character taken from a run of issues of Dr Strange from the mid-1970s written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Gene Colan … they’ll be falling like leaves over the next few weeks