Marvel has definitely been on a massive run. Even their worst movies, * cough * * cough * Age of Ultron, are leaps and bounds better than anything their closest rivals are putting out. Except for maybe the X-Men franchise which is still a Marvel property even if it’s produced by Fox. They’ve cracked the code on not only how to make a great comic book movie, but how to build an entire cinematic universe out of it. They can do these movies in their sleep now, and the critical and commercial success of Guardians of the Galaxy proved that they could take lesser known, riskier characters/stories and knock it out of the park. So I had no doubts they’d do the same with Doctor Strange.
Doctor Strange isn’t necessarily a deep cut character, but he definitely isn’t a mainstream one. My knowledge about him and his world was limited at best. The basic premise of Strange is that he was once one of the world’s best surgeons, arrogant, selfish, and wealthy; a la Tony Stark (Iron Man). One night he gets into an accident that leaves his hands permanently damaged and unable to practice anymore. At rock bottom and left with no other options, he seeks out a powerful mystic that he hopes can restore his hands. One thing leads to another and he learns the dark arts and becomes a powerful sorcerer that protects the world.
It’s the usual comic book origin about a wealthy, arrogant man getting everything taken away then rising back up more powerful and dedicated to service. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it got the job done. They did a good job with his origin, as usual, but I really hope they start moving away from these origin tales. One thing that does get me excited though, is the expanding of the Marvel cinematic universe. Where Guardians introduced space and the idea of different galaxies and species, Doctor Strange fully introduces magic and the idea of different dimensions. The ramifications this will have on future movies should be very worthwhile.
While the story is formulaic, the visuals are not. They are spectacular; the way they bend and warp the world around them and watching magic shoot out from their hands is a sight to behold. Two scenes in particular stand out. One where he initially “opens his mind” and experiences all these different dimensions and planes of existence; and one later one where he visits one specific dimension. It all looks and feels like one big acid trip and it’s a direct homage to the original comic’s art style that was inspired by the times (70’s).
Benedict Cumberbatch nailed the role of Stephen Strange, pulling off his character arc and persona pretty much flawlessly. Chiwetel Ejiofor is also fantastic as Mordo and plays off Cumberbatch extremely well. I’d compare it to the way Rhodes (War Machine) plays off of Stark (Iron Man). Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer, Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, and Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius all give good performances…when they’re given screen time. Mads in particular doesn’t get a ton of screen time to work with, giving Marvel yet another forgettable villain. But they do give one character in particular a great arc that looks to be setting up future conflicts for Strange.
Have you seen Doctor Strange? What’d you think about it? Are you tired of all these origin stories too? Are you excited about the prospect of Magic in the MCU? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave your rating for the film.
* SPOILERS *
While Kaecilius was a wasted villain, watching Mordo go from ally to antagonist was a great choice and made sense for his character. I think he’ll be one of the more memorable villains because of it. If you didn’t see the end credit scenes, you should. He returns to the parapeligic who gained his ability to walk again by using magic and takes it away from him, leaving him crippled. He says there’s too many sorcerers in the world. The sequels should be good.
Speaking of end credits, Marvel just confirmed Doctor Strange will be in Thor: Ragnarok and will be helping him and Loki find Odin. My hype for that film just went wayyyyy up.
Probably Strange’s greatest foe in the comics. I wasn’t sure if he’d make an appearance in the first Strange movie, but he did. They went the Fantastic 4 Galactus route by having him be a large entity as opposed to a humanoid with a flaming skull. At least they gave him a face, even though a flaming skull would’ve been way more bad ass.
Strange sticking Dormammu in that time loop and being killed over and over again until he grew so annoyed that he agreed to leave Earth alone was funny shit and a nice way to handle it.
It was also dope the way the Dark Dimension was modeled almost exactly like in the original comics.
Alright time for some easter eggs:
They name drop The Living Tribunal, one of Marvel’s most powerful characters. Maybe we’ll see some form of him in the Infinity Gauntlet story?
They don’t name drop the Vishanti, but there’s symbols of them all over the place. They’re the source of Strange’s and the Ancient One’s immense powers.
He doesn’t speak his magic phrases like in the comics, but they put a nod to it in the form of a Wi-Fi password.
Undoubtedly the amulet he wears is in fact an Infinity Stone, leaving only one left to be revealed before Thanos.
Doctor Strange was yet another origin story with a weak villain, but the spectacular, trippy visuals and great acting keep it from being too formulaic. The future ramifications from introducing magic in the Marvel cinematic universe alone make this one worth watching.