By: James Graves
The resident Sorcerer Supreme finally makes his debut to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2016 with his on standalone movie. Doctor Strange is not only one of the most entertaining entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but is visually one of the strongest outings Marvel has graced us with to date. Doctor Strange is on equal footing with Guardians of the Galaxy as far as what in introduces, and means for the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In Guardians, we are introduced to not just the Guardians but a number of deep, rich characters that have a long list of lore in Marvel Comics. From the Collector, the Kree, and the Nova Corps, Guardians did more than any other Marvel movie when it comes to establishing a deeper and richer narrative. In that sense, Doctor Strange is Guardians 2.0 and it does as much as it can in a single movie to introducing a different element to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Doctor Strange introduces us to the Magical and Astral aspects of the Marvel Universe similarly to how Guardians introduce us to the Space aspect of the comic giant. Doctor Strange introduces us to astral projection, magic weapons some of which seem to have a mind of their own, and a whole other dimension, which depending on what the MCU decides to do may or may not have anything to do with the nine world concept that was introduced by the Asgardian’s in the Thor movies.
The movie opens up in regular origin story fashion as the opening 20 minutes or so establishes exactly who Doctor “Stephen” Strange is. My biggest knock of the movie comes extremely early on. Stephen Strange is portrayed extremely similar to Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal of Tony Stark in the first Iron Man movie. When we meet Dr. Strange, he comes across as extremely arrogant, extremely wealthy, and as a slick talker all of which Downey has made a staple of his Tony Stark character in these movies. Stephen Strange even has similar one liners as well and to me I found this portrayal of Stephen’s origin disappointing. Stephen Strange, in my opinion, should not feel like Tony Stark 2.0 regardless if they were both rich and successful in their chosen careers. Luckily this side of Stephen Strange is peeled away very quickly as he’s humbled by a series of events that play out in the movie. The visual effects of this movie are reminiscent of Inception and is a joy to watch in IMAX 3D I fully recommend that you see this version of the film if you can. Per usual, the Villain in this movie while set up brilliantly, fades into an afterthought and plot to disservice to service the movie. It was a shame because the backstory to this particular villain was probably the strongest next to Zemo in Civil War. Marvel seems to be on the right path to fixing the villain problem, but it also seems with each new hero introduced also comes with this immense pressure to develop the character as fast as possible. For example, we get a good sense of who the new Spider-Man is as a hero as well as Black Panther in Civil War.
Mind you both of these heroes have their own movies coming out within a year or so, so one could argue that this time could’ve have been better spent setting up the villain and giving him more of an arc to develop. Now back to the positives, Doctor Strange also boast a solid cast of side characters as well. The ancient one, in particular, has a very solid and rewarding story arc and despite the controversy, Tilda Swinton did a fantastic job playing her. I would be remiss not to mention Chiwetel Ejiofor’s, Mordo character as he has the second most character development in the entire movie. Mordo’s storyline is fantastic and as always I try to keep my reviews as spoiler-free as possible, but the character arc definitely makes for some interesting storylines and theories for the inevitable Doctor Strange sequel. So to keep this short and sweet Doctor Strange is as good a movie as any of the top-tier Marvel outings. With a solid cast, pretty good story, and some of the best CGI I’ve seen all year it’s definitely worth the price of admission.
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