Doctor Strange is a character that has quickly become a near-constant presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ever since his first solo film debuted back in 2016, the character has popped up nearly everywhere in some form. From his role in the last two Avengers movies to being the catalyst that precipitated the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, his importance to the current phase of the MCU has become more evident. And now, with Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness breaking box office records and further cementing that importance, it is often hard to believe that Benedict Cumberbatch’s take on Doctor Strange marked the first time viewers ever really saw the character on the big screen.
It is a fact that may be surprising to some, especially considering the popularity of the character’s comic book counterpart. However, Doctor Strange’s journey to film, like many other Marvel characters before him, was a long one. In fact, the only real attempt at a live-action adaptation before the MCU brought him in was the made-for-television film in 1978. Beyond that, the character had spent nearly 30 years in production limbo, with the rights jumping around between many filmmakers and movie studios and nearly all of them never making it past the pre-production phase.
But there was one notable attempt that did make it into production – though ultimately not as a Doctor Strange movie. As it turns out, Doctor Mordrida long-forgotten ’90s film, was actually one of the many attempts at getting a Doctor Strange film off the ground. According to ScreenRant, the rights to Doctor Strange had, at one point, been optioned to Full Moon Entertainment, a production company founded by Charles Band of Puppet Master fame. However, those rights fell through just before the film’s production, and instead of abandoning the project, the script was reworked into what would eventually become Doctor Mordrid.
The movie, which was released in 1992, was about Doctor Anton Mordrid (Jeffrey Combs), a sorcerer who was sent to protect Earth from an evil sorcerer named Kabal (Brian Thompson). From that description of the plot alone, it is hard not to see the spiritual connection this film has with the Marvel character, and the comparisons do not end there. Much like Strange, Mordrid possesses a wide array of magic artifacts, including an essential amulet of power that he wears around his neck. Even the place he operates out of, an apartment full of magic books and relics, resembles Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum. Along with this, his costume, which has him sporting a cloak and a blue tunic, makes the influence even more obvious.
There are, of course, also a few differences between the characters. For instance, Mordrid is depicted as an ancient being from another realm, given a mission to protect the Earth by an entity called “The Monitor.” This is unlike Doctor Strange, who turned to the mystic arts after seeking to be healed by the Ancient One. Mordrid is also a criminal psychologist rather than a surgeon, and instead of having a sidekick like Wong, he has a pet Raven named “Edgar Allen.” However, even with these differences, an unmistakable tone to the film makes it feel undeniably like a Doctor Strange movie.
The weird fact that the movie was initially meant to be about Doctor Strange makes Doctor Mordrid a curious piece of movie history. It’s what makes this forgotten movie an interesting watch for Doctor Strange fans, even if it’s only to see what could have been.
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