How Marvel Can Successfully Introduce Horror Elements to Doctor Strange
One particular villain could change the game for this franchise.
By M.T. Bates
Marvel, more specifically its cinematic universe, isn’t known for its horror elements, but the powers that be are claiming that is the direction they want to take Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. This has a lot of comic book fans and horror fans concerned. The horror fans have a right to be concerned because I wouldn’t expect them to know how this is possible, but the angry comic book fans should definitely know better. The rumor is that Nightmare will be the villain. Nightmare, at the end of the day, is the OG Freddy Krueger.
It won’t take much to ramp up the terror with Nightmare coming into the fray, as he is the ruler of the Dream Dimension. We are talking about an entity that thrives on tormenting sleeping beings and feeds off their fear, so much so that Nightmare is solely dependent on humanity’s need to dream, though this is a double-edged sword for both the villain and humans because, without him, the human race would go insane. It is a strange relationship, to say the least, but this is the cornerstone of the character that needs to be exploited and explored the most. The thought that fears and nightmares in humans are required for us to sustain life is a horrifying thought. This is Marvel’s ticket in the realm of horror.
Immediately, the similarities between Nightmare and Freddy are seen, but if you dig deeper, you’ll find even darker ties these characters share. Freddy was conceived from rape and Nightmare has multiple children from rape. This isn’t a plot point I could ever see the MCU using, but it goes to show you just how evil Nightmare truly is.
Being able to use people’s fears against them is a weapon both characters utilize in their respective mediums. Freddy has always been known to toy with his victims before going in for the kill, while Nightmare delights in tormenting them for as long as possible. His motives are much more grandiose when compared to the revenge path Freddy has mostly traveled.
When you are given a dream realm to work within when creating a horror landscape, it truly is a blank canvas of mayhem. The writers are only limited by their imaginations. We are talking Marvel and Disney here, so budget isn’t a concern. The biggest issue will be how far Disney lets the filmmakers go with the horror elements. Obviously, a rated-R film is out of the question for this character, but a hard PG-13 can still reveal quite a bit. The boundaries could definitely be pushed with this film, as I think Disney is ready to branch out more and take some more chances. With a Blade movie now on the pipeline, they need to test the grounds in the realm of horror and harder ratings, especially with Deadpool now in the hands of Disney.
Horror fans should be thankful at this point. With no news happening in the world of A Nightmare on Elm Street, a Marvel version of Freddy might be the best we can hope for at the moment. What could be delivered is a calculating personification of fear and terror free of the wisecracks and goofy one-liners. I can’t see all horror fans getting on board with this concept knowing it is coming out of Disney, but at the end of the day, even companies as big and powerful as Disney know that in order to survive and grow, they need to branch out and start exploring areas they aren’t familiar with.
If Disney and Marvel were smart, they would realize what they are working with and should give the one man who knows this particular world better than anyone a call. Of course I mean Mr. Robert Englund.
Imagine this if you would, Englund given a chance to play a dream demon, but more sinister and thorough, with more character. The actor has a massive range and if he were allowed to study the character for a bit, I believe he could truly terrify us all over again. He is also no stranger to practical effects and makeup if they go that route. We all know that he is not much of a fan of the process, but he is not turning down a role in a Marvel movie over something like that.
Bringing a horror legend into the fray would give the movie the pedigree it needs to sell it to horror fans. It’s a win-win situation, even the movie turned out poor. The doors this would open are immense and it is the perfect way to blend old and new together to create something familiar, yet fresh at the same time. It’s fun to think about what could happen with this movie and story as both a horror and comic fan. While casting Robert Englund seems highly unlikely to ever happen, a fan can dream.