The MCU has expanded in the last few months.  Netflix added its 3rd street level hero into the mix, and Dr. Strange made his mystical debut.

Dr Strange

I only recently learned of Dr. Strange.  A year or so ago I stumbled onto the Marvel Dr. Strange animated movie – a 75 minute journey into the making of the Sorcerer Supreme.  It was okay.  Certainly no DC animated movie.  I expected the live action movie to run pretty parallel – why reinvent a wheel when you can simply improve upon it.  For the most part, thats pretty much what I got and the result left me satisfied.  The only surprise were the incredible visuals.  Especially the final scenes.

Dr. Strange did what it needed to do; introduce a B level comic hero,  reveal the time stone, and don’t make us feel as though the whole ordeal cannot fit into the now vast MCU.  Check, check, and well…check.  The final part of my self made list is a mixed bag for me.  I don’t have many criticisms, but the one I do have is the new Mystic/Spiritual realm.  The MCU has very little inconsistencies; but now they have a big responsibility on their hands when it comes to awareness.  I am skeptical Marvel will be able to hold it all together, and expose it properly in the coming films (Netflix?)…namely Avengers Infinity War.

The climax of the movie, like all of the non-team up movies, was kept somewhat contained.  Upon further review, only a few buildings in New York and London sustained damage the public would remember.  Hong Kong was spared as a result of the final battle’s outcome.  Eventually though, these final battles where the world is in the hands of one or two heroes will have to bleed over into Agents of SHIELD, Netflix TV series, and other movies right?  For the most part only a news headline or casual reference in other properties acknowledges challenges throughout the MCU.  This is not a sustainable path.  Dr. Strange basically has the same field of view – narrow and contained; but acknowledging other things are taking place.  Not to spoil anything, but a superhero on the movie release docket is possibly mentioned.  Maybe – or perhaps another airless tease like Adam Warlock’s cocoon in Guardian of the Galaxy (come on!  Infinite War without Adam Warlock!?)

All in all, Dr. Strange is a really good movie.  A popcorn movie that doesn’t ask much from the audience; and doesn’t seem to think you will expect much from it either.  Not much to be disappointed about, but a lot to like.  As many reviews noted, the villain problem persisted, but more were actually created than destroyed this time around.  The end credit scenes solidified a Dr. Strange villain and hinted that we may see the good Doctor again much sooner than expected.

Luke Cage

I believe this is the first post on a Netflix show.  A stark reminder as well…there hasn’t been an MCU video game release since the Thor game a few years back, right?  Not counting Lego Marvel games.  Plenty of video game rich fodder now exists in the Netflix universe.  Multipart stories provide the meat a video game typically has to add on to a movie adaptation.  Perhaps Disney will open the piggybank back up for one or two.

Anyway, I wanted to state a few things about Luke Cage as more of a commentary than review.  It should not be too controversial, but it may come off that way.  Comic books, such as Luke Cage, X Men, Inhumans, etc. were created under the guise of social commentary in trying times.  Listen to any comic book historian and they will tell you why a certain series was made…what hole they were intended to fill or message was to be sent.  Luke Cage intended to fill a gaping hole – a street level African American superhero who could be looked up to in some form or fashion.  Admittedly, the Luke Cage in the Netflix series is a bit of a contrast from his comic likeness.  He constantly refuses payment for services; a staple of his comic book persona.  Perhaps this will change; but not with his current predicament.  The goal of the series was clear from the beginning without any secrecy or hesitation: This will be a social commentary and will involve the plights and pleasures of inner city life infused with African American culture.  I believe the show succeeded for the most part.

I felt the Netflix series connected very well with its predecessors Daredevil and Jessica Jones.  Of course, Jessica Jones watchers were introduced to Luke Cage in the very first episode of the heroine’s series.  In fact, Luke Cage played an integral part of the storyline and climax.  Writers of Luke Cage fashioned a seamless transition from those events into his own story.  I was pleased that Jessica and Matt (Murdock) did not appear in Luke Cage.  Their forced presence would have been a distraction from the subject matter.  Although, the Night Nurse provided the bridge to exactly how Daredevil and Luke Cage will meet and bond.  Therein lies the greatest success of the series.  Even though Luke Cage is a bleeding heart social commentary, the greater (Netflix) MCU gained more perspective.  A very fine line was balanced upon.  The series was goofy in parts, but I believe it was an attempt to keep it light with such heavy subjects in play.  The comic itself has seen Luke Cage say and do things that don’t really belong on TV…although Sweet Christmas is uttered quite a few times.  In addition, a new-ish idiom was added to the modern lexicon – asking a woman out for coffee; but you don’t like coffee.  Get it?  Bravo to the Marvel team for bringing something like this to its audience.  On to Iron Fist.