I’ll fully admit that I went to see this film out of a sense of obligation. I’m a massive Marvel Comics fan and have enjoyed nearly all of the movie adaptations they’ve made in the past few years. But I was worried about Doctor Strange, as it represents such a change in tone from it predecessors.
Let’s recap. Whereas Captain America is a war hero, Stephen Strange is an arrogant and selfish neurosurgeon. Whereas Captain American makes the ultimate sacrifice (spoilers?), Stephen Strange turns away needy patients if he doesn’t think he’ll attain a successful outcome – and get the glory that follows.
So he’s not instantly likeable.
And whereas Tony Stark is also arrogant, he lives the millionaire playboy lifestyle and uses incredible technology to battle his enemies. Stephen Strange is cerebral, intelligent, a professional, doesn’t use gadgets and actually wears a cloak. Yes, a cloak.
This step into the world of magic and the mystic arts is handled so well, it really feels like a continuation of the Marvel Universe story – we’re just seeing another chapter unfolding. Yes, he’s a pretty awful person, but as always in these situations, he experiences a disaster, comes out the other side and is a (slightly) better person for it.
I’m not a Harry Potter fan nor do I enjoy fantasy stories. That said, this film had me hooked from the outset. I was very familiar with the Doctor Strange story from the comics, so I was keen to see how they’d adapt it for the screen and a 2016 audience.
In short, very successfully. Benedict Cumberbatch was BORN to play Strange, just as Robert Downey Jr was born to play Tony Stark / Iron Man. The resemblance is uncanny. And while there are some interesting changes to the profiles of other characters (e.g. “The Ancient One”, now played by Tilda Swinton) the characters work.
There’s an excellent mix of exposition and back-story, combined with humour, action and some resolution. It’s basically the origin of Doctor Strange, but immediately makes him part of the shared Marvel Universe that also contains Captain America, Thor and the Hulk. It does this really skilfully and no prior knowledge of the Doctor Strange mythos is required.
(Also, you have to stay for two excellent post-credits scenes that set up future films. Honestly, if you’re a Marvel fan, you’ll love them.)
I can really recommend this to any fans of fun, action and adventure. You need not be a comics fan or a fan of magic (I’m not, I’m really not!). In fact, there were moments in “Doctor Strange” where I was transported back to my first screening of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. It’s that fun and that full of adventure. And the special effects are very impressive – and quite psychedelic!
I can’t wait to see more of Doctor Strange in future Marvel movies.
And if you’re interested in learning more about the character, check out this wikipedia page or some recent comics. And now, a bonus recent comic appearance of Tony Stark and Doctor Strange – I love how disdainful Strange is of everything Stark represents.