Welcome to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). In its 14th installment, Marvel introduced a new superhero – Doctor Strange. The ‘Doctor’ will soon appear in Thor: Ragnarok, which is scheduled to release as part of the 17th film installment of the franchise. But before that, let’s take a quick look at how Doctor Strange shaped up.
Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a brilliant yet arrogant neurosurgeon gets his hands mangled in a spiraling car accident. When all surgical techniques fail, he is directed to the doorstep of a mystical enclave called Kamar-Taj in Kathmandu, Nepal. Here he comes in contact with the Ancient One aka the Sorcerer Supreme (Tilda Swinton) and her loyal followers, the noble Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and the funny yet straight-faced Wong (Benedict Wong). After showing a lot of restraint at first, Strange turns into a quick learning student destined for bigger things; and therein Doctor Strange is born. The movie doesn’t deviate from the somewhat formulaic path of a superhero story, with a vested love interest Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) and a can’t-do-without villain Kaecillius (Mads Mikkelsen). But then again, the makers wanted to retain its originality from the comic books, which seems fair. They further harness Steve Ditko’s 1960’s comic book artwork and imagination into a visually stunning movie. Here are a few parallels that may be drawn while watching the movie – the rise of this unlikely superhero is somewhat similar to what we saw with Tony Stark and Iron Man about 8 years ago. The learning curve of Doctor Strange echoes the learning sequence in Batman Begins. And you see some brilliantly executed visual effects that you first got a glimpse of in Inception. That said, the treatment and trappings here are very different. And given the fact that most of us loved the aforementioned movies, we certainly aren’t complaining.
Benedict Cumberbatch is an effortless Doctor Strange with his smug face and dry wit, falling right into the mould of the character. He almost seems untested. Tilda Swinton owns the part as the Ancient One. While there was some banter about straying from the original story where the Sorcerer Supreme is of Asian descent, the matter can be laid to rest with her poised performance. Rachel McAdams and Mads Mikkelsen, though perfect performers for their respective roles are underused in terms screenplay and screen time. That holds true for Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Wong as well. The unlikely sub-hero of the film is the Cloak of Levitation and Doctor Strange’s endearing relationship with it; funnily finding itself at the right place at the right time.
If you’re not the sort of person who follows the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Strange might be the gateway you’re looking for. It stands almost entirely on its own. The true standouts in the movie are – the actors that immerse themselves in the mystical Marvel Universe and the stunning visual effects that create world-bending imagery. These effects are swiftly introduced in the (must-not-miss) opening sequence of the movie. Inspired by Steve Ditko’s imagination and artwork, Marvel’s most visually inventive film yet takes you into a parallel paradigm – Beautifully ‘Strange’!
– Varun Kumar | Enterapped
Doctor Strange has grossed over $500 million worldwide.
Director – Scott Derrickson
Cast – Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong