Marvel also has always been good at casting, so its no surprise that Benedict Cumberbatch fits like a glove in his character. He sheds the British accent and adds more attitude, portraying an arrogant and overcompensating neurosurgeon that you’d love to get taken down a notch or two.
And he does. A car accident sends him crashing down the side of a cliff while on his way to a soiree. His origins story has a little more substance, where a man whose self-worth is tied to a job and loses the one thing he needs the most to do it.
In fairness, Doctor Strange has more room to play around Marvel’s blockbuster formula and thankfully the creators behind the camera made the best out of that opportunity. The director is able to do more than just destroy buildings.
The mystical arts is rendered beautifully, resulting in spells modeled after embers that create gateways and shields. It’s multi-dimensional rules lead to inventive action scenes such as folding buildings, trippy time-bending action sequences, and an MCU-subverting showdown.
Strange’s handicap led to novel action scenes that relied on his intelligence to fend off more capable henchmen. His spiritual journey veered away from that hate/love team dynamic and tapped on the grey area of using powers for practicality instead of idealism.
Much has been said about Tilda Swinton as Strange’s mentor whose literally named as the Ancient One. No one wins in this situation – cast a POC and perpetrate another stereotype or cast a white woman and get called for whitewashing.
The rest of the diverse cast did well, with Chiwetel Ejiofor making a memorable character with Mordo. Stay until the final credits to find out more about him.
While Doctor Strange injects new life to the homogeneous Marvel line-up – which is ironic considering he’s a second-tier character – he’s attached to a formulaic origins story. You won’t get to know more about Stephen Strange apart from the fact that he’s cut from the same cloth as Tony Stark. The gifted yet egoistic student appears, breaking all the rules and questioning his masters until one cataclysmic event teaches him a lesson about humility.
It’s unclear what his motivations are to save humanity but the world needs saving so there he goes. Sadly the movie still comes with Marvel’s villain problem and his love interest is an afterthought.
Still, Doctor Strange is an entertaining entry. Marvel excels in combining comic book lore with Hollywood fanfare and successfully presents new possibilities out of the familiar.
Doctor Strange overcomes its formulaic origins story with great performances, beautiful visual effects, and MCU humor.