Marvel Comics is the powerhouse of cinema and print when it comes to comic titles. With the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this has only become more and more obvious. Marvel is a machine churning out money and product faster than the eye can see, and we, the willing populous, are more than eager to eat it up.
One of the first big choices of the MCU was to truly ground it in reality. Costumes, characters, stories — all could make sense in our world. However, one part of that shafted a massive chunk of the Marvel Comics Universe, and that was the choice to eliminate any and all mention of magic existing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
This is first seen in Thor, when the Norse god tells Jane Foster that what her ancestors called magic was simply science, and that is what creates Asgard and the rest of the Nine Realms of Yggdrasil. This is again seen in Doctor Strange where, rather than delving into the mystic arts, it is written so that the "magic" is simply scientific energy from another dimension. Even in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Robbie Reyes, the Ghost Rider, is relegated to having his powers flow from a parallel dimension, rather than Hell itself.
This has led many fans, including myself, to truly question why Marvel would make this choice. DC, with the DC Extended Universe, has accepted its characters' roots in magic, such as the short lived Constantine on Fox or Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman and her own standalone movie.
When Marvel made that decision to remove magic from the #MCU, it severed ties to numerous amazing characters and even better storylines and arcs. If the MCU were to embrace magic once again, it would open up a whole new field of possibility.
1. Amazing Characters
The Marvel Comics Universe is home to some of the most iconic characters across any medium, be it comic book or film or art. Characters like Doctor Strange, Blade, Caretaker, Magik, Moonstar, and the titular Ghost Rider, are the poster children of the magical and supernatural half of the Marvel Comics Universe (referred to as the MCoU from now on in this article).
In the late '90s, we were given the Blade films starring Wesley Snipes as the face of the trilogy, with Kris Kristofferson adding his star power as Whistler, the Obi-Wan to Blade's Luke. Then, in 2007, the divisive film rendition of Ghost Rider starting Nicholas Cage and Sam Elliot graced the silver screen, followed by its sequel Spirit of Vengeance in 2012.
These films, while often enticing more criticism then praise, did what they could to bring these supernatural characters from the MCoU to life on film. Snipes's Blade was fairly dark and gritty, but with an almost strange hip-hop, dance-like movement in all his fight sense, reminiscent of the Black Power Ranger, Zach. Even if you don't like Cage's take on Johnny Blaze, every time he begins to transform, you still get the shivers as the flaming skull of Ghost Rider rears up.
However, these films were mostly pre-MCU. Ghost Rider came out one year before Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, and its sequel was shot out of the water by Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. For a while, many fans had no idea that magic would return to the MCU in the form of trench-coat wearing vampire-hunters or flaming motorcycles, since the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as said by Tom Bacon in his article "Magic and The Marvel Universe: From the Supernatural to Science," had "been born in science."
Finally, when it was announced that Doctor Strange would be in the MCU lineup, with Benedict Cumberbatch standing as the figurehead of the Sorcerer Supreme, we finally were led to believe that magic — and the huge amount of characters that dabbled in it — would enter the MCU.
However, this hope again was dashed as Tilda Swinton's Ancient One explains to Strange that magical energy is simply drawn from another dimension where normal physics do not exist, and matter and energy is able to be manipulated easily. Even when the titular villain of the film Kalcelius calls his rival a sorcerer, Strange rebuts this and simply refers to himself as a scientist.
When it was announced at San Diego Comic-Con 2016 that Ghost Rider would be arriving in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a show long due for some star power pick up, many fans were ecstatic, and while it was not Johnny Blaze (even though a cameo of either his Rider or Danny Ketch's Rider was made during Robbie's origins scene), Robbie Reyes's Camaro-driving (and far more terrifying-looking Rider) filled many fans with awe and straight-up terror. His theme helped as well — chilling and dark.
However, it was soon revealed that he too drew his power from an alternate dimension, similar to good old Doctor Strange. Again, rooting the MCU in science, in reality. This is not altogether a bad thing, but it has been done in excess, and it removes so many wonderfully deep characters from the MCoU that could be added to the MCU.
With Doctor Strange having been such a critical success, and with help from Cumberbatch's excellent performance, hopefully more doorways (no pun intended) can be opened to slowly add little dollops of the arcane and supernatural here and there, and make the MCU roster a little more magical. By adding these magical characters, it increases the stakes in the film world of survival and guardianship, heightening the emotional connection to the characters, and make the world bigger and more full.
2. Fresh Storylines And Material
Many mainstream storylines from Marvel comics have already been used for the belly of the MCU: Age of Ultron and Civil War being the two biggest, with Thor: Ragnarok taking on many elements from Planet Hulk, and soon, all will culminate with Infinity War in 2018. However, with this choice to eliminate magic from the MCU, this removes one of the best story arcs in Marvel Comics history: Rise of the Midnight Sons.
It's a mega-fest of blood, hellfire and doom, but goddamn is it a good read. This connects across multiple titles, including Hulk, The Avengers, X-Men, and even Fantastic Four, making it not only popular with supernatural fans, but with other comic readers as well.
If implemented, Rise of the Midnight Sons could provide a much-needed boost to the MCU, as already the DCEU has begun to make their step to start truly becoming a challenger. While the MCU has set itself a standard of refusing to get dark and gritty, it still needs that seriousness to compete with the DCEU, and by adding those supernatural and magical characters, it would give the franchise that edge.
3. More Fans And Income
The MCoU has a great deal of disappointed fans who look upon many of the MCU films as almost either ruining or disenfranchising heroic favorites. However, a lot of people who aren't pleased with the MCU are MCoU fans who love magic and the supernatural. If the MCU were to begin to integrate more magical and supernatural characters, more fans would come to see the films and watch the television shows, and in the end, more money would arrive in Marvel's bank account.
Magic is in the Marvel Comics Universe, so is the supernatural. It's about time they start acknowledging that and take a step back from reality to do a little mystical-magical-mumbo-jumbo.