10 Thoughts on Dr. Strange
Marvel’s latest movie has finally hit the big screen in the form of Dr. Strange. While Stephen Strange has been gracing comic book pages for decades, he is no where near the household name that Iron Man or Spider-Man is. However, after Marvel did a great job with B-Lister Ant-Man, I had high hopes that their movie formula would work for the Sorcerer Supreme. After seeing the movie on opening weekend, I can definitely say that I wasn’t let down, unlike I was with both DC movies this year. So let’s dive in.
Caution: If you haven’t seen the movie yet, there will be some spoilers here.
10 Thoughts on Dr. Strange
1. This is very much an origin story.
Shocking right? As noted above, this isn’t exactly Spider-Man or Batman, superheroes whose origins are so well know that you can bypass their origins with nothing more than a quick montage. Since Dr. Strange is mostly unfamiliar to the general public, much of the movie is spent following Stephen Strange around from his car accident to his rise as a sorcerer. Overall I didn’t mind the origin story, yet after it was over, I found myself yearning for a sequel. I want a movie where the hero can shine and not be tied down to 60+ minutes of back story. I know that this was kind of required, but the second half of the move almost felt a bit rushed since so much was spent on the build up. Here’s to hoping that Dr. Strange 2 will be one of the rare Marvel movies where the sequel outshines the original.
2. The training felt a bit rushed.
Even though this was an origin story, I felt like a lot of Strange’s training was glossed over. Most of it was spent in him returning library books or learning to fight with Mordo. The movie washes past this by saying that Stephen has a photographic memory. But even still, I would have liked to learn more about how the spells actually work, the nature of magic in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or even other things that sorcerers can do. At the very least, I expected to see a “2 months later” type of montage because Strange goes from pampered surgeon to fighting machine in seemingly no time at all.
3. Did you catch the Civil War easter egg?
Stephen Strange foolishly drives through the rainstorm at high speed while on the phone looking for his next challenge. As his assistant reads off options for surgery, one of the options is a (I’m going from memory here) “military officer who fell from the sky in some metal armor”. This was basically alluding to Colonel Rhodes AKA War Machine, who we last saw falling from the sky and crashing to the ground in Captain America: Civil War (thoughts on that movie here). Unfortunately for Rhodey, Strange passes on him without a second thought. Interestingly, the woman who he was going to accept is rumored to be none other than Captain Marvel.
4. The special effects were amazing.
Seriously, Dr. Strange did a great job of providing exciting visuals for its viewers. From the sparkly spell effects (shields, teleportation, weapons) to the M.C. Escher-like visuals of the alternate dimensions, it was clear the SFX budget was given a lot of freedom. The moving cities were definitely interesting, however the producers are going to have a hard time not reminding people of the hit movie Inception. It felt like they borrowed the demo reel from that movie and turned the intensity up a few notches. Not that I’m complaining, it provided some crazy action sequences, all of which were quite enjoyable.
5. The supporting cast was solid.
Benedict Cumberbatch did a fantastic job bringing Dr. Strange to life. His hubris early on was clearly evident in his character, which in turn, made is eventually fall from grace that much more painful for him. Strange was obviously the star of this movie, however many of the supporting cast did a great job with what they had to work with.
Rachel McAdams unsurprisingly did a great job as Christine Palmer, unfortunately she was regulated to little more than Strange’s love interest. I would have liked for her character to have a bit more impact on the movie. Benedict Wong, who played Wong, did a great job with his role as the school’s librarian. His stoic nature really played well when bounced off of Steven Strange. However Tilda Swinton’s portrayal as The Ancient One was probably the best of the group. She helped take Strange from just a student to a master, and probably had the most depth of any of the side charters. She was clearly conflicted about what she had to do to keep the world safe, and didn’t see everything as black and white as others (RE: Mordo).
6. I really liked the trick at the end of the movie.
I wasn’t sure how Strange was going to deal with Dormammu. Would he just seal up the gate? Cast a spell and make it all better? Nope, the writers got very clever on this one. His time loop was a fantastic way at dealing with this all powerful being. I almost feel bad for Strange having to go through all those deaths, but in the end, it worked out great for everyone (well almost everyone) I’ll be honest, I didn’t see that trick coming and loved it.
7. We found another Infinity Stone.
The Infinity Stones are six immensely powerful objects that are tied to different aspects of the universe. We’ve a few of them so far in various Marvel movies. Wong tells us at the end of the movie that the Eye of Agamotto is actually an Infinity Stone. I’m not sure how I didn’t realize that during the movie (shame on me) but it makes perfect sense. It’s clearly the Time Stone. So that makes 5 of the 6 infinity stones, the only one we are missing is the Soul Stone. I’m guessing that will be on the slate for 2017.
8. The villains weren’t great.
Overall, the villains didn’t do much for me. They apparently have fallen under the sway of Dormammu, which a the time, didn’t mean much to anyone. But they start off the movie fighting with The Ancient Ones before getting their eventual goth makeover. However, even during the movie, they all felt a bit one dimensional. Their motivations were never really expanded up, so they basically felt like they were there for Strange to beat up. I think the next movie will fix that though…
9. Enter Mordo.
The post credit scene involves Mordo, who left Strange at the end of the movie because he doesn’t agree with his meddling with the time continuum. We see him next paying a visit to Jonathan Pangborn (Benjamin Bratt), who’s sole purpose in the movie was to tell Strange to go to Katmandu. Mordo apparently decided that there are too many sorcerers in the world and takes Pangborn’s power away. I’m guessing he’s being setup to be the villain in the Dr. Strange sequel. Since Mordo is actually a villain from the comic books, this twist probably isn’t going to be a shock to many longtime Dr. Strange fans.
10. Give us better magic battles.
While the magic battles were pretty intense, I found myself wanting more. Most of the time, spells were simply used as mystical weapons, where they proceeded to beat each other up with them. I want to see my sorcerers slinging magic from across the room, using the environment, and overall getting creative with the arcane arts. We had some flashes of this in Dr. Strange, but for the most part, viewers were treated to the sorcerers conjuring up weapons from sparks and fighting with them. Come on Marvel, I know you can get more creative than that! Here’s hoping that will be addressed in Dr. Strange 2.
That about wraps it up for Dr. Strange here. While not the best Marvel movie to date, it was definitely enjoyable and I am looking forward to seeing more of Strange’s adventures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Did you see Dr. Strange? What were your thoughts on it?