Anybody who knows me will tell you the same thing – I love Marvel, and I love Benedict Cumberbatch. So as you can imagine, Doctor Strange has caused a lot of excitement for me. And by a lot of excitement, I mean it’s been a huge part of my life ever since the casting was announced on this film. My favourite actor, and my favourite franchise combining? What could be more perfect? (Well, a McFly song somewhere in the film would have been wonderful, but hey, two out of three isn’t bad)
Never before in my life have I followed the production of a film so closely as I have done for Doctor Strange, so you can imagine how excited I was to finally see the film yesterday, after two long years of waiting.
And all I can say is wow, just wow. This film is brilliant, in so many ways. It’s an origins story, which could seem outdated and boring by now, but this film does it in a slightly different way.
I’ll start from the beginning. Doctor Stephen Strange is the best neurosurgeon around, he’s at the top of his game, working only on the hardest (but curable) cases he can find. He’s arrogant, rich, and only out for himself. He has to be right, constantly, and does not hold back when he finds someone stupid. But it all changes when he has a violent car crash, which crushes his hands, leaving him with nerve damaged hands which constantly shake, and unable to do surgery.
After hearing that there’s someone out there who can cure him, he goes in search of The Ancient One, and that’s when his entire world is turned on it’s head. He’s introduced to magic and the mystic arts, and after some false starts, starts to train and learn everything he can about them, slowly becoming entrenched in this world of magic, albeit reluctantly.
Sounds like a normal Marvel origin story, right? Wrong. Because unlike Iron Man, Captain America or Thor, Stephen Strange doesn’t want to be a hero. He just wants to be a surgeon again, he doesn’t want to kill others to save the world, or anything like that. He wants to save lives in the operating theater, like he’s been doing his entire life. There’s several arguments throughout the film over this, and in the beginning he only fights when he has to, not because he wants to. It’s only towards the end of the film when he changes his mind, unlike all of our other heroes in this universe.
Another thing that stands out in this film is how Doctor Strange battles. He doesn’t have a special suit, isn’t enhanced in any way, isn’t a Demi-God, or battling alongside aliens. He’s completely human, a human with magic, and mystical objects which help, sometimes hilariously, along the way, but he’s still human. And he gets hurt, a lot, in this film. Not just in training with The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), but in actual fights with the enemy.
His powers sometimes fail him, he loses important objects he needs to battle, he doesn’t fully understand the mystical powers that are working around him. For once, we saw a hero actually get beaten, several times over in fact, and in ways that made everyone wince in sympathy in the cinema.
It was a refreshing thing to see, and made the character more realistic in my opinion. I’m sure others are getting slightly tired of the hero winning battles without much issue their first time round, so to actually have someone get seriously beaten really grounded the audience in reality, despite all the magical things going on.
Even the magic seems sort-of grounded in reality. Of course, it’s as trippy as the old Steve Ditko comics, and it takes you on a wild ride through the weirdest of dimensions, but the characters make this all seem rather normal, because it’s normal to them. It’s their way of life, their way of protecting the world, and has been for centuries. The way it’s been done gives the audience just a glimpse at what’s out there, what Doctor Strange will go on to accomplish as the Sorcerer Supreme, while still making it accessible, and not making the whole thing seem too… well, strange.
All in all, Doctor Strange is possibly now my favourite Marvel film (sorry Civil War), it had all of Marvel’s hallmarks – great wit, engaging characters, amazing end credit scene (stay right to the end of the credits, there’s two end credit scenes) – but it was different from the classic origin stories we know and love.
It’s needless to say, but the acting was also superb, the casting on point, and the costuming/effects were done beautifully. Everything came together perfectly, setting up a sequel in the future, expanding the MCU even further, and changing up everything. It’s a must see film for any superhero fan, and hell, even if you’re not a superhero fan, go and see it anyway, because it’s possibly the best film I’ve seen all year.
To say the least, it was worth the two year wait.