Doctor Strange : had the monumental task of following up from the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s other 2016 epic, Captain America: Civil War, without being considered a ‘disappointment’. The film revisits the physical threats against the world and ups the ante by presenting mystical threats (as if Earth wasn’t endangered enough). Whilst The Avengers are playing dress-up with Loki and Ultron, who protects the world from these highly powerful creatures and sorcerers?
The Wizarding World of Doctor Strange: Different from other Marvel films, Doctor Strange dips into the realm of magic and illusions. Our hero, Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), echoes similarities to Tony Stark as they are both brilliant yet arrogant and suffer an accident leading them on a path of self-discovery. Alongside The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Strange learns how to control magic to prevent the mystical enemies of earth attacking mankind. Yes, this is the formulaic origin structure we all know and love but Marvel chose to stay safe rather than risk - which, again, works for them. Doctor Strange is more subtle in its portrayal much like last year's Ant-Man contrasting to the devastating effects Civil War left on the MCU.
*Inception Sounds*: In Doctor Strange, the audience are introduced to the concept of multiverses and fabric-altering magic. Throughout the film, there are multiple incidences of buildings unnaturally twisting and rippling their surfaces, structures bending into wormholes and duplicating in numbers all whilst characters defy gravity and bound from building to building. We are in the Mirror Dimension, however, where our world is replicated but no consequences are made - moments like these are pure adrenaline-fueled action. These sequences are like psychedelic drug trips pleasing our eyes but also feeding our brain. Confusing at first but then you realize how awesome and different this is to any superhero film. Combined with the top-notch special effects on offer, this is a real winner.
The Red Pill or The Blue Pill?: One problem I have with the Marvel films is the lack of distinct villains with actual morals. So far, Loki is the only villain given enough depth and character that we can emphasize with him and even appreciate his actions. Kaecilius, Strange’s current villain, was the complete opposite. We don't care about him. We're not even scared of him. His character development literally starts and ends at ‘crusty eyes’. Poor Mads Mikkelsen. Other supporting characters, like Christine Palmer and Wong, were also vaguely introduced. Christine (Rachel McAdams) was the generic love interest often conflicting with Stephen about science and magic whereas Wong (Benedict Wong) is Strange’s servant / sidekick in the comic books helping him defend Sanctum Sanctorum. He is loosely introduced in the film but is mentioned to appear in Avengers: Infinity War to hopefully flesh out his character. Nether the less, both characters hold no weight in the story and don't advance the plot in any way.
“I’ve Come to Bargain”: Like all MCU films, Doctor Strange is littered with hidden details reflecting comic book history and other films (not just the Stan Lee cameo!). For one, the Eye of Agamotto holds a heavy purpose in the original comics and now the film. For cinematic purposes, it encloses another Infinity Stone linking it to both Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy – an exciting prospect for fans. We are also shown the Sanctum Santorum (as mentioned earlier) where Strange protects earth and houses himself (there are possibilities for appearances in Thor: Ragnarok). Doctor Strange is an extremely satisfying introduction to his character plus an entertaining standalone film. With tight special effects and decent writing (alongside some Hollywood greats), it is certain Doctor Strange will be remembered as a fantastic film but also a great addition to the Avengers.