Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange’ is the 14th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and welcomes the newest superhero, Dr. Stephen Strange, who’s character ushers the audience into the supernatural realm not yet explored in any Marvel predecessor. As another stand-alone superhero movie outside of the Avengers cast, ‘Doctor Strange’ follows in the footsteps of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Ant-Man’ by presenting a new sub-genre of superhero movie. Whereas the former were a space opera and heist film, respectively, ‘Doctor Strange’ is a psychedelic medical drama mixed with an east asian origin story.
By all accounts, one would wager to guess that that sort of description would scare away even the most die-hard comic book movie fans. Yet rest assured that in this film, Director Scott Derrickson masterfully weaves together a story that works, and oh boy does it work brilliantly!
Just as ‘Ant-Man’ rose to the ranks of top ten favorite superhero lists (at least by my account), there’s no don’t doubt that Dr. Stephen Strange will crack the top five (and possibly number one) because his brand of powers are unique and beyond anything that’s been seen before; mystical, mind-bending and magical.
The story concerns the titular character Dr. Stephen Strange, a world-famous neurosurgeon whose life changes forever after a horrific car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he is forced to look for healing, and hope, in an unlikely place—a mysterious enclave known as Kamar-Taj. He quickly learns that this is not just a center for healing but also the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying our reality. Before long Strange—armed with newly acquired magical powers—is forced to choose whether to return to his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.
Benedict Cumberbatch is fantastic in the leading role and rightfully so. During development, he was the prototype for the character, and when the option to cast him arose Producer Kevin Feige made the choice to delay the start date just so that they could have Cumberbatch play Dr. Stephen Strange, a decision that was well worth it.
Cumberbatch’s ferocity of intelligence combined with his tremendous depth of feeling made him the perfect choice. As things consider, there are moments in the film when Strange is incredibly arrogant and borderline unlikeable. Cumberbatch was able to reconcile that notion with just enough charm and throughout the character’s story arc we see him go from utterly broke down to later be reconstituted into a fully fledged superhero the audience can root for. Along the way, there is plenty of humor, action, and drama.
“Doctor Strange” as a comic book was born in the 1960s and is a reflection of the mind-expanding time period. Visually represented by Steve Ditko, arguably one of the greatest Marvel artists in history, the film pulls its inspiration directly from the comic strip and presents a visual mind-trip that rivals any cinematic mind-trip that’s come before. What the filmmaker have done to a stunning degree is take the work of Ditko and transform that imagery into a big three-dimensional space on a movie screen.
While the obvious comparisons might be the ‘Matrix’, ‘Inception,’ or even Miyazaki–style animations, one could argue that the visual effects of ‘Doctor Strange’ have their own unique language and visual signature. It takes on a more kinetic, gear-works motif that expertly ties into the overall “Time” theme of the film. The mind-bending visual trip of ‘Doctor Strange’ is a welcomed addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
For those more interested in the human story, ‘Doctor Strange’ explores the dichotomy of Western science and Eastern mysticism. It’s about digging deep and finding a way to live your life that has real meaning. This is exemplified in Dr. Stephen Strange’s choice between living his posh life as a neurosurgeon or take on a cause greater than himself for the sake of humanity.
Overall, Marvel’s ’Doctor Strange’ is a mind-trip action film that is bizarre, ambitious, wild and extreme and filled with things that you haven’t seen before. It is an ancient story told in modern times. For those who’ve been paying attention, there are a few appearances of things that will have greater consequences in the grander MCU story. And, finally, don’t be surprised if you find yourself rooting for, of all things, a magical cape or have a new favorite superhero.
“Doctor Strange” stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt and Scott Adkins, with Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton. Scott Derrickson is directing with Kevin Feige producing. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Stephen Broussard,Charles Newirth and Stan Lee serve as executive producers. Jon Spaihts and Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill wrote the screenplay.
Join Strange on his dangerous, mystifying and totally mind-bending journey when Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange” opens in U.S. theaters on November 4, 2016.