Welcome back to Second Union’s MCU coverage leading up to Avengers: Infinity War. We now arrive at Doctor Strange, which failed to break Marvel’s formula, but still serves as a highly entertaining and visually stunning spectacle. The film follows Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a highly arrogant but brilliant neurosurgeon. When he is involved in a horrifying car accident, his hands are rendered useless, and he travels to Kamar-Taj to find a cure. However, he finds himself swept up in an ongoing war between mystical warriors and zealots bent on destroying our reality.
Marvel ventured into unknown territory with Doctor Strange. How could they adapt a superhero with magical powers instead of technological ones? Somehow, they pulled it off. However, like they did with Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel introduced us to a whole new division of the MCU. This one is filled with sorcerers and alternate, mind-bending dimensions. The film also introduces us to the Time Stone, the fifth of the six Infinity Stones.
As said before, this film really doesn’t do much to break away from Marvel’s signature formula. Strange is another Marvel hero that is highly selfish and it ends up costing him. By the end of the movie, he’s saved the world from a massive threat, and learned lessons about morality and caring about those around you. He’s settled in with a new group and is prepared for the next attack, therefore setting up a sequel.
That being said, this film is utterly fantastic in terms of how it separates itself from the other universes in the MCU. It manages to expand the universe while also staying relatively small-scale at the same time. The world-building is excellent, and learning about the different dimensions is extremely fun. The visual effects for these worlds are also very enjoyable, sending you on a trippy journey throughout time and space. The scene where Stephen is told to “open his eye” is one of the most extraordinarily exciting journeys taken throughout a superhero film, demonstrating the visual capabilities of the film in only a couple of minutes.
The action sequences are spectacular, filled with phenomenally thrilling and mesmerizing visuals. They look extremely real and merge well with the environments. The fight scenes are very well-choreographed as well. Even though while they still feel pointless in certain areas, there’s no denying how fun they are to watch. The biggest example of this is the sequence where Strange and Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) are chased through New York in the Mirror Dimension by Kaecilius. It’s electrifying, even though Kaecilius is a highly unmemorable villain. Then again, what else is new? At least there’s some development put into him, unlike other MCU villains.
Doctor Strange is a weird movie that normally wouldn’t make sense in a technology-based world like the MCU. However, its well-developed characters and trippy, exhilarating visuals make it one of the most memorable origin stories in the franchise. The villain is, yet again, another boring, uninteresting mess. However, the writing and acting are spot-on, even though the film still follows Marvel’s origin story formula.
Doctor Strange stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton. Directed by Scott Derrickson.