Mark Ellis on Doctor Strange 2 and the case of the comic book films

Mark Ellis is a comedian, actor, podcaster, and self-proclaimed “stepfather” who has dissected pop culture for over a decade. In addition to performing in comedy clubs nationwide, Ellis participates in presenting shows Wrong Rotten Tomatoeswhere he explains both fresh and rotten movies like spider man 3And the catsAnd Thor: The Dark World. He also appears regularly on Rotten Tomatoes (which can be found on Peacock, The Roku Channel, Xumo TV and Samsung TV Plus) discussing a variety of topics, from this year’s Academy Awards to the harsh critical reception of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Ellis took time away from his duties as editor and contributing reporter at Rotten Tomatoes to talk to Digital Trends about the current state of comic book films. He gives his thoughts on why the genre has dominated pop culture in the past decade, why Morbius Failed with both critics and fans, and what DC could do to catch up with Marvel.

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Digital Trends: Comic book movies have been a staple in movie theaters for decades now. However, I feel that in the past 10 years, they have become more popular than ever. Why do you think so?

Mark Ellis: It’s a great question. we got Superman In 1978 and Batman in 1989. Then we got great comic book movies in the 90s code. But once we got there X-Men In 2000, that was the first time we realized that filmmakers had the technology and source material to really delve into some of these universes or the multiverse as it is now. And I think it was just a matter of lining up the stars with where the general public and studios treat comic book movies as serious cinematic endeavors, not just kids’ movies to sell toys.

A lot of that credibility was built on having the performers in the movies and having them treat the material with respect, too. Robert Downey Jr. is also one of the most respected actors of his generation, so seeing him as the person who launched the MCU helped legitimize it. I think making high quality movies for most of them, along with seeing a guy like [Marvel President] Kevin Feige with the MCU was also very important. What Feige did would be considered historically on par with someone like George Lucas, who helped shape Star Wars into the phenomenon it is today. Lucas took science fiction and made it for everyone, and Kevin Feige took comic books and made them not just for kids like me, who would go to their local comic store every Wednesday for new books, but for non-fans as well.

We already have several comic book movies released so far in 2022. Batman It gave Warner Brothers and DC a much-needed hit. Is this movie’s success a coincidence, or does it signal a change in how to move forward in its strategy?

It seems to me that every time DC takes a step forward, they take two steps back. I hope it won’t be the case this time. It’s no coincidence that the Batman movie did so well at the box office. What’s even more impressive is that we’re still coming out of the end of the pandemic and that we’ve been meeting a new Batman for the first time as Robert Pattinson.

It looks like we have a Batman that a lot of people are going to gravitate towards, and that we’re going to grow up with Batman in a way that we couldn’t do in the DCEU movies. And I thought Ben Affleck did a great job, but he was really established as Batman when we first saw him. at Batman We’ll kind of see Batman come alone the same way we’ve enjoyed watching Spider-Man come alone in the MCU for the past few years. And where will DC take it? And I think they need to know is this going to be the fundamental pillar that holds this whole universe together? And if so, do we still want Aquaman?

I imagine that since there’s a new Aquaman movie out there, DC may still want Jason Momoa and Gal Gadot to play Wonder Woman. I don’t know what will happen Sparkle With Ezra Miller making headlines for all the wrong reasons, that’s a huge mistake. Maybe Warner Bros. will work. Discovery is about to change things up and all will be well. But it looks like DC was really into it flash point Being the thing that can bring a group of heroes into one movie. I think both Marvel and DC are looking to a dimension akin to the multiverse to say, “Hey, remember everything you loved before? Now you can have it all in one movie.” Both DC and Marvel own these characters and have a history of greatness and outstanding performance that audiences want to see again. It’s just a question of who can pull it off better. Spider-Man: There is no room for home He did a great job opening that door.

Doctor Strange walks through the door gate in Doctor Strange 2.

Let’s talk about Marvel. Doctor Strange in a multiverse of madness About to be released. This movie feels like an event, rather than a direct sequel to a standalone movie from 2016 that it should be. why is that? Is this because there is something we saw in it WandaVision pay off here? Is this because of the multiverse it was in Spider-Man: There is no room for home Will it appear again?

Well, it’s never a bad thing to continue Spider-Man: There is no room for homeA very successful movie that everyone seems to love. I mean, I got a score of 93% on a tomometer. Then you follow that up with a trailer at the end for Doctor Strange in a multiverse of madnessThe one everyone is talking about about what happens next with this multiverse thing?

I think the excitement about this movie is very similar to the expectations we had when Captain America: Civil War It has been announced. Technically, this was a Captain America movie, but Steve Rogers was really just an anchor to let all of these other characters go outside.

I expect Marvel to start looking at Benedict Cumberbatch as the new anchor for this current phase because we don’t have a hat or Iron Man anymore. We now trust Stephen Strange as much as we trust Iron Man or even Captain America because of his appearances in the Avengers films and Spider-Man: There is no room for home.

Jared Leto walking in a raincoat in a scene from Morbius.

Contrary to supporting goodwill Doctor Strange in a multiverse of madnessyou have a poor critical reception and a welcome audience Morbius Last month. What went wrong with this movie?

Well, it’s 17% on Tomatometer, which makes you think “Oh, my God, this is a movie about a character that’s in the MCU. What happened?” I think the quality of the movie was not on par with the other Marvel movies. I talked about it recently on my show, Wrong Rotten TomatoesAnd while I didn’t think it was a great movie by any means, there’s a greater payback value in it than the 17% he’s referring to.

I just don’t think so Morbius He was up to this task of satisfying moviegoers who just had fun Spider-Man: There is no room for home. Morbius isn’t a household name like Venom, so people have stayed away. I don’t see Morbius failing to influence Sony’s overall strategy with its Marvel features, and I certainly don’t see Morbius impacting Doctor Strange in a multiverse of madness or MCU at all.

Will DC beat Marvel when it comes to a consistently successful movie slate?

hard to say. In late 2021, Marvel seemed to be faltering a bit. They did the Eternals, and it did well at the box office well enough. But then again, a Tomatometer 47% seems to indicate that critics didn’t really respond to it as well as they did to other MCU films. but then Spider-Man: There is no room for home It comes out right after that which is a big hit. Maybe we’ll all go see Dr. Gharib 2 We will definitely all go see Thor: Love and Thunder. I guess that means that even though Iron Man and Captain America are gone, there’s still plenty of ammo left with Marvel.

I guess there was a fear that if Marvel didn’t have Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark or Chris Evans as Cap, would they still be successful? I mean, you’ll get Guardians of the Galaxy in the Thor movie. You will get a bunch of surprises in The multiverse of madness. And so you’re going to look at these two movies and say, “We might see the next decade of Marvel Cinematic Universe movies,” with a reference to There is no place for home Unlocking storytelling possibilities for a multiverse.

DC is not in a position to do so yet. I think DC and Warner Brothers characters need to create this sandbox for directors so they can play in it, rather than letting a single director like Zack Snyder create everything. I feel like we’ve got a responsible moto boss, and he’s running this ship creatively, and then we can have other builds come in here and play in this world, rather than letting one person play and letting someone set up the whole world. Not a single filmmaker set up the entire MCU, it was Feige, and I think that’s probably the way DC would like to go forward.

You can follow Mark Ellis on his site Twitter page. If you want to hear more from Ellis, Wrong Rotten Tomatoes Available for download on Apple, Spotify, and other major streaming services.

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