Dr. Strange (1978)

Stan Lee said of his experience with the 70s live action Marvel films, particularly Dr. Strange, “I probably had the most input into that one. I’ve become good friends with the writer/producer Phil DeGuere. I was pleased with Dr. Strange and The Incredible Hulk. I think that Dr. Strange would have done much better than it did in the ratings, except that it aired opposite Roots. Those are the only experiences I’ve had with live action television. Dr. Strange and The Incredible Hulk were fine. Captain America was a bit of a disappointment, and Spider-Man was a total nightmare.”

Director and writer DeGuere was crushed when this series wasn’t picked up and all we got was the TV movie, but he ended up creating Simon and Simon, so he did alright.

Morgan Le Fay (Jessica Walter, who was in Play Misty for Me and Arrested Development and this is not anywhere near those) possesses Clea (Eddie Benton, Prom NightThe Boogens) and has her shove Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme Thomas Lindmer (John Mills) off a bridge. He survives and Clea ends up being cared for by Dr. Stephen Strange (Peter Hooten, 2020 Texas GladiatorsJust a Damned Soldier and most importantly, Night Killer), who has magical powers inherited from his father, which leads Lindmer and his friend Wong (Clyde Kusatsu) to meet Strange and teach him the path that he really should be on. I mean, why help people deal with mental illness when you can battle the demon Balzaroth (Ted Cassidy, who wasn’t just Lurch, he was also the voice of Galactus on the first Fantastic Four cartoon and the narrator of the original opening to The Incredible Hulk).

Le Fay and Clea are both interested in Strange, which leads the Nameless One to threaten Le Fay with old age if she doesn’t destroy the young magic user. She sends the shadow form of Asmodeus — a Ghost Rider villain — to capture Lindmer and lure Strange into her trap. She attempts to seduce him and fails. Then, Strange accepts the responsibility of being the new Sorcerer Supreme.

After all that — and despite being abandoned by the Nameless One and becoming wrinkled and aged, Le Fay is on TV as a self-help star, teasing the series that was never made.

This is a pretty slow moving movie, but as a kid, I loved it, because I just wanted more comic book stuff on TV. It would have been nice to see where the TV show would have gone.

Here’s a strange trivia question: Who is the first Marvel supervillain to be adapted to live action?

Yes, the villainess of this movie, Morgan LeFay. The Arthurian villainess was one of Spider-Woman’s main enemies and somehow, she beat every other villain to the screen.

Sure, she acts a bit more like Umar, the daughter of Dormammu, but there you go.

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