Do you believe in magic?
For being a movie with the word "doctor" in its title, Doctor Strange has very little to do with the practice of medicine. There's barely any semblance of a cohesive, scientifically-proven world and a severe lack of sleep that comes with the job description. In fact, one could argue that the film goes in the opposite direction entirely, focusing on the occult, the mystical, and yes... the strange.
Whereas the majority of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's heroes use their fists, hammers, arrows, and stun batons to fight bad guys (and more recently each other), Doctor Strange is quite content in blowing your mind with his bag of parlor tricks. He is crippled after all, and punching someone in the face would do more harm to his finely manicured hands than to the sweat-stained noggin of magical thug number thirteen.Â
After losing the use of his hands (but not his good looks) in a car accident, neurosurgeon Stephen Strange is led into a spiral of depression. But instead of manning up and learning to eat with his feet, Strange looks high and low for the (dare I say it) strangest remedies which lead him to a cult hidden high up in Nepal.
While not on par with the fanaticism of the Illuminati, the cult actually delivers on what they are selling and eventually teach Strange the ways of the magic man. Cue an opposing evil cult and a dark ominous presence, and you have the makings of another Marvel origin story.So what makes this one any different from the rest?
Well for one thing, the main character is a lot more interesting than others whose names rhyme with "Or Thodinson". The whole aspect of having a magical version of Tony Stark was never a bad thing, and Benedict Cumberbatch pulls off his interpretation of the American doctor quite well.
The film revolves around Strange and his evolution from a cocky doctor to a selfless, magic-wielding professor at Hogwarts, so it only makes sense that he should be compelling. Â Seeing the changes in his dialogue, from quips about pop culture to dramatic saving-the-universe speeches, you get the feeling that the good doctor is taking a turn for the better and though he isn't healing physically, his character is.
Though supporting characters such as The Ancient One (played by Tilda Swinton) and Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) do a service to move the plot along, it's Strange who is the star of the show and will be remembered by children when they go to buy lunchboxes with his face plastered on them. Plus, I'm pretty sure you'll forget the other members of the cast by the time the sequel, Doctor Strange: Pediatric Ward, gets released.The second feature that the movie has going for it is just how trippy it can be.
Have you ever used a kaleidoscope? You know, those little tubes with pieces of glass that you look through in order to get a vision of what it's like doing a lot of illegal drugs at once? That's what this movie feels like for the most part.
It always hurts the brain when storytellers talk about time travel or multiverses, so instead of delving in too deep with dialogue that makes no sense, the film settles on representing these touchy topics by using a lot of visual effects.
They aren't just for show, either. Throughout the whole movie, seeing the various characters interact and manipulate their hallucinogenic surroundings is always fun to see, if a tad confusing. There is this big fight within New York City that got me wondering if everyone would enjoy this film since it could have a tendency to cause vertigo or epileptic seizures. Other than that however, the whole thing just blew my mind.
But there is something strange about Doctor Strange, and that is that some parts tend to be forgettable. Being rooted in another origin story always has its downsides: you have to establish the character, his motivation, and the world and rules he lives by. All these things weigh down what could otherwise be a story that breaks free and goes in a new direction entirely, like a rabbit that got loose from a magician's hat.
I do want to see where this is going, however. After successfully placing him in the universe, Doctor Strange is now able to branch out into other Marvel franchises and troll people inconsistently with his snide remarks and seemingly infinite power.
For another origin story, Doctor Strange does more than an adequate job in providing newcomers with an introduction to a cape wearing hero that isn't Superman. It doesn't have that much of a difference in terms of storytelling, but when your retinas are blinded by the different dimensions and your mind is freed from the other superheroes which will no doubt come into contact with him, then Doctor Strange has a magic that is wholly unique to itself.Â