I saw Doctor Strange two Fridays ago. While it was definitely a good movie, well made, it definitely didn’t have me jumping out of my seat begging for more.
In a cinematic universe such as Marvel’s MCU, where the audience have come to expect larger and larger action sequences, a movie with relatively mild action and no explosions barely registers as a blip on the radar. That doesn’t mean that Doctor Strange was in anyway a let down. Marvel has beat the action movie drum long enough and I think they have come to terms with the fact that it may be time to try a new route, and Doctor Strange is definitely their biggest step in this new re-branding.
With over a dozen movies already released, plus five television shows, it was only a matter of time before Marvel started recycling some of their material. Doctor Strange to me seemed like a blend of Iron Man and Thor: The Dark World. They combined the character development and personal tale of Tony Stark with the overall story and tone of TTDW.
Meet Dr. Stephen Strange. A very successful, highly educated, self-absorbed dick who doesn’t respect his coworkers or those closest to him, and seemingly has no family to speak of. He’s a 1%er who drives expensive German cars, lives in a New York penthouse, and thinks he’s just God’s gift to man. Sound familiar? Let’s push forward. Said character gets into a horrible accident that physically maims him, and threatens his ability to return to his former life. Desperation and necessity beget progress, and our antagonist discovers their true calling.
The story moves like Thor: The Dark World in that the main antagonist isn’t trying to conquer the world, he’s trying to destroy it, himself included. There’s also a lot of instant teleporting from one place to the next. In TTDK this was caused by the convergence, and our hero was constantly swooping from one place or dimension to the next in the midst of battle. In Doctor Strange, our hero and company chase and are chased by the villains from one portal to the next, hop scotching across the city and world in Scooby doo fashion.
And that’s pretty much the movie. Despite the mystic allure of the movie and the exotic aroma the advertising gave off, the movie itself is pretty straight forward. It was pretty easy to follow. The story was linear with no detours. No twists. No turns. No tangents. The people you thought were good were good, and the bad guys were actually bad. No fake Mandarins or Obadiah Stane gotchas.
Pretty much everything you thought was going to happen, happened. An 8 year old could have guessed how the story was going to end after the first 20 minutes. Again, I am not trying to smack down the movie. It had great acting, great casting, great wardrobe, setting, effects, dialogue, etc. and the expected MCU quips to keep you chuckling. It just wasn’t grade-A original like Iron Man, Winter Soldier, or Guardians.
There isn’t anything bad to say about this movie. There also isn’t anything to brag about. Marvel made a solid, entertaining movie that will easily turn a profit, result in plenty of children’s toys and nerd swag, and which will bridge the gap between Civil War and the next Avengers installment and keep the MCU franchise churning forward.
Would I watch Doctor Strange again? Sure, why not. Would I purchase the DVD? Naw, but it would be a cool Christmas present maybe.
One small grievance I have is not necessarily with this movie, but with what I consider to be an anachronism on Marvel’s part. Way back when, two and a half years ago in Captain America: Winter Soldier, Hydra agent Jasper Sitwell while being interrogated by Cap, Falcon and Black Widow spilled the beans on Zola’s plan for world domination and in the process rattled off a few names of people that would be targeted for death by the helicarriers once active. Among those names was Stephen Strange aka Doctor Strange. At first glance I suspected that perhaps the events of Doctor Strange actually took place prior to the events of Winter Soldier and that this was simply a slightly out of place side-quel that Marvel would simply weave back into the fold.
Viewers dorkier than I noticed that in Doctor Strange there were awards dated 2016 which confirmed the story itself takes place in current times, and several years after the events of CAWS.
So then what’s the deal with Sitwell name dropping Stephen Strange years before he was the sorcerer supreme of Earth?
Well, some people have supposed that Zola’s algorithm didn’t just find people that are currently problematic to Hydra but that might be down the road, and that Stephen Strange simply fit the bill as a potential pain in the ass. Possibly. But of the 7 billion people in the world who could pose a threat, I find it odd that Sitwell- a high ranking SHIELD and Hydra member would recall an apparent nobody by heart, especially when neither Cap, Black Widow, nor Falcon would know who the hell Stephen Strange even is. Sitwell name dropped Bruce Banner because the hulk at the time of CAWS was clearly on Hydra’s radar and was someone anyone in the world would likely have known by name, an additionally was close friends with the Avengers. To immediately follow up Bruce Banner with an apparent nobody??? I call bullshit.
This boils down to three theories:
- Jasper Sitwell for whatever reason memorized the name of some random d-bag doctor no one knows or cares about. (unlikely)
- Stephen Strange was already the sorcerer supreme of Earth at the time of CAWS (my guess) and someone at Marvel *oops forgot* about the earlier name drop, and messed up in Doctor Strange (also my guess)
- It was simply an innocent Easter egg not intended to be anything more than a crowd pleaser (annoying, and not like Marvel to do)
At this point it really doesn’t matter, but it did irk me the night I saw it in theaters.