Marvel did it again.
When I first saw the trailers for Scott Derrickson’s “Doctor Strange,” I’ll admit that I was wary, not wanting to get too excited about a superhero I knew nothing about.
Boy, was I wrong.
“Doctor Strange” was a fresh, enthralling addition to Marvel’s already diverse and colorful universe, and left little to be desired from a superhero film. The characters were relatable, intriguing, funny and understandable in their respective roles, and the plot of the film deftly set up a subsequent film that has the potential to fit in nicely with future Avengers films.
What makes “Doctor Strange” fit in as a film in the context of the Avengers, and part of why Marvel is good at making superhero movies, is that the main character, Dr. Stephen Strange, has no super powers.
Without getting too much into the plot and exactly how a neurosurgeon became able to conjure up pretty lights and teleport, the big thing to know about the main character is that he is utterly, hopelessly self-centered.
Furthermore, he refuses to stray from the path that acquires the most wealth and fame for himself, no matter the lives that are lost or destroyed in his wake.
During the introduction of this character, producer Kevin Feige thoroughly shows Strange’s self-centeredness in a way that reminds Marvel fans very much of Tony Stark, billionaire playboy with a knack for accomplishing the impossible in his own haughty, ostentatious way.
It is the transition of that character from a world-renowned doctor who strictly believes in only what he can control, to a sorcerer who fights for a cause bigger than his own, that makes this movie special.
Whereas a character like Iron Man used his own two hands and a colossal ego to achieve his special ability (his suit), Strange was forced to release all control over his world and rely on a higher power to become something with true meaning.
At the beginning of his training as a sorcerer, Strange is explicitly told to “forget everything you think you know.” This is a (pardon the pun) stark contrast from Marvel’s other heroes who rely on chance acts of science or diligent honing of their already present skills to achieve greatness.
Rather, this film takes a character who almost seemed like he had supernatural skill as a doctor, brings him crumbling down to nothing, and then puts back the pieces to form something entirely new for both the character and the audience.
The movie also lacked a convincing villain and, instead, relied on general terms to refer to a “dark dimension” that was the sole entity behind the small amount of loss that occurred in the plot. It was hard to relate to the tension and conflict because of this obscurity.
Without spoiling the ending to an all-around fun and inspiring movie, one of the characters that I thought was thoroughly developed as a loyal, dedicated sidekick who turned his back on Strange because he did not agree with his manipulation of the rules and laws that governed the universe.
All in all, Doctor Strange exceeded the hype that it received. Intense and engaging special effects were just the tip of the iceberg, and served a purpose in the film instead of being just bait to get movie-goers to see the film.
Benedict Cumberbatch excelled in his role as Stephen Strange, and the writers of the movie used Cumberbatch’s dry wit and suave personality to its fullest extent.
Expect to see Doctor Strange again soon, as box office revenue and a potential tie-in with the Avengers will be a good indication for Marvel that fans want more.
My opinion: go see this movie. It’s fun, intriguing, and what some call “a thinker movie.” Conservatively, I would give the movie a 7.5 out of 10. Other reviews, such as IMDb, have given the film an 8/10, while Rotten Tomatoes has Doctor Strange at a 90% rating.
Whatever the rating, you should go see this movie. It’s strange, but in the good way.