We're in the final countdown for Marvel's Doctor Strange, and Marvel is flooding the internet with new promotional material. Eagle-eyed fans are looking for hints — what force is behind Kaecilius? How will Doctor Strange transform the #MCU? And what wider tie-ins can we expect to discover in the film? We've just spotted a very cool detail, which might just be our most exciting hint to date...
Meet Tina Minoru
Blink and you'll miss it, but around the 1:06 mark in that featurette you can see a brief glimpse of a background character who'll prove vitally important to the future of Marvel TV. The character's name is Tina Minoru, and in the comics she's a powerful sorceress who becomes part of a criminal cabal known as the Pride. The Pride's children — including Tina's daughter Nico — discover that their parents are supervillains, and head for the hills. It's the basic premise of Runaways: a comic that Marvel has announced as the basis for an up-and-coming TV show!
Long-time Marvel fans will recognize Tina for one simple reason; the weapon she's wielding is known as the Staff of One, a mystic staff that can perform any spell once. It's been used by the Minoru family for generations, and Nico steals it from her mother in the first arc of Runaways.
Can We Be Sure This Is Tina Minoru?
Doctor Strange has seen an unprecedented degree of coordination between Marvel Studios, Marvel Comics, and Marvel Entertainment. Back in July, the first Doctor Strange Prelude tie-in comic included Tina Minoru as a Master of the Mystic Arts, exciting fans. A month later, Marvel announced the Runaways TV series — and we were soon hearing that the Doctor Strange reshoots were focused on cool cameos, including potentially one from Tina Minoru.
"We never say Minoru in the movie, do we? No. So that picture, if it is in the art of book, is the only place you’d ever see that name... That’s how we always build the universe. There’s so many characters in the books that if we have need for a person to be in this place at this time and have a line or have no lines, we still want it to be someone, and often times that’s how the names come about. And the names we pull are the ones that are relatively top of mind or have been amongst characters we’ve thought about, like the Runaways, for a long time. I would call that an Easter Egg that most people won’t even see."
Although Feige said that the name 'Minoru' is never used in the movie, notice that he didn't deny that the character would appear. It's no surprise that fans have since been combing the Internet looking for evidence that Tina Minoru had been cast — and Omega Underground hit paydirt. They put together an intriguing breadcrumb trail to British-Chinese actress called Linda Louise Duan. Here's the video she uploaded to her site on September 25th — recognize the footage at the start? (I do recommend watching the whole video, incidentally - you'll get a sense of the quality of her acting, which shows she's a great casting choice!)
I think we can safely say this is all confirmed: the woman in the clip is Tina Minoru, Master of the Mystic Arts — and Linda Louise Duan is playing the part!
What Does This Mean for Runaways?
Of course, the exciting thing about this particular cameo is that it's teasing a future Marvel Entertainment project — Marvel's Runaways. We know that work on the Runaways show is rumbling on in the background; Iron Fist writer Tamara Becher unwisely told her Twitter fans that she'd been hired to write the script (she quickly deleted the tweet).
What this suggests, though, is that casting may well be underway; it's impossible to tell the story of the Runaways without the Pride, and the MCU now has its Tina Minoru. Linda Louise Duan's career with Marvel has likely only just begun with this cameo!
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All this is tremendously exciting. It hints that Marvel Studios and Marvel Entertainment have repaired their troubled relationship, and are now driving the MCU forward in a far more cohesive way than I'd have dared dream possible. It also tells us that Runaways really is in progress; Marvel Entertainment has a habit of announcing a lot of pitches, and then things go silent. With a writer booked, and a supporting cameo nodding towards the series in Doctor Strange, fans have good reason to get increasingly excited about Runaways!
Are you looking forward to Marvel's Runaways?
Poll Image: Marvel Comics