Doctor Strange brings another superpower to the Marvel cinematic universe: Magic
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) includes people gifted with incredible genius, raw power, cunning intelligence and the strength of gods. Now, it’s adding magic to the mix.
Directed by Scott Derrickson and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams, Doctor Strange is an interesting and worthy addition to the Marvel franchise. It has the same core formula (reluctant hero, powerful item, final showdown) that Marvel has perfected, yet it also brings something new to the genre.
Dr. Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) is a brilliant neurosurgeon whose intellect is surpassed only by his ego. His world collapses after his hands are shattered in a terrible car accident, in which his vehicle goes careening off the road one rainy night. Broken both inside and out, Strange goes to great lengths to repair his hands—the tools that allow him to perform his life-saving miracles. When Western medicine fails him, a desperate Strange travels to Nepal to dabble in the mystic arts as a last resort. There, he meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).
In a psychedelic montage that must have been inspired by some drug-induced trip, Strange gets a glimpse of this new world of mysticism: rushing lights, hands growing on fingers, mirror dimensions and endless universes. From there, Doctor Strange begins his tutelage in the arts of mysticism, where he learns to manipulate time, matter and space.
The cinematography of the film is incredible, featuring beautifully composed shots and incredible montages of a city folding and bending in on itself. The depictions of magic and spells are interesting and creative.
Aficionados of the superhero genre will find a breath of fresh air with this atypical Marvel film. We might not have needed another superhero origin story, but we got one anyway and it is an interesting direction to take the MCU in.
Unlike other Marvel movies, Doctor Strange doesn’t rely as much on explosions and grand finale battles. Rather, the fights occur in different dimensions where gravity is subjective and, in order to vanquish your opponent, you must bend space and time at your will. Think Inception meets The Avengers.
What’s interesting about Strange’s character is that he went searching for this power. Unlike Spider-Man, who was bitten, or Bruce Banner, who accidentally radiated himself, Strange goes out of his way to learn the mystic arts—but not under the guise of being a hero. His intentions, like his character, are self-centered. He wishes to heal his hands and become the surgeon he’s always been. Having worked on the cutting edge of science and medicine, he transitions to the harder-to-grasp mystical arts, something none of his PhDs will help him understand.
Doctor Strange is yet another piece of the Marvel puzzle, and it will be interesting to see how they all fit together.