From the opening scene, Marvel’s latest “Doctor Strange” lets you know that this is going to be a darker film compared to the previous ones, since it starts with a beheading. But is doesn’t take long to fall in line with being a pretty standard superhero/origin story. At least it seems that way, then there is a touch of magic that makes this a bit more than your typical superhero page to screen adaptation.
Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is an all-star surgeon with an ego to match, but after a terrible car accident, it leaves him without the use of his hands. Desperate for any way to repair the damage, Strange finds himself in Nepal looking for an answer that science cannot solve. What he discovers is another universe that is imbedded just beyond ours, one of mystical sorcerers and ancient beings. His teachers are Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who are preparing to battle the evil Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) who plans to destroy the Earth with the help of some dark forces.
With this new character in the ever expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, director Scott Derrickson (Sinister) brings a much needed element in this new mystical world. Where most Marvel movies take place on Earth with the occasional trip to Asgard and deep space with the Guardians, this glimpse into a larger inner-world with these powerful beings is a welcomed sight. There are moments where “Doctor Strange” goes on a Marvel Magical Mystery Tour, from the trippy visuals, the battles in a kaleidoscope moving cityscape, to more familiar paths like a not-so-terrifiying villain, a simple save-the-world ending, to Strange’s cloak of levitation which, since this is a Disney movie is a second cousin to the rug from “Aladdin”.
They do however do something interesting in regarding the villains. I don’t want to spoil much, but there is some good set-up for the future films, as most of the Marvel films do, as there is some heavy-handed stuff in there as well. But the most impactful moments for me where Derrickson and his team remember what they are making. The set pieces, the finale, and the final solution to the battle with the Big Bad is straight out of a comic book, and that’s what keeps these Marvel films on top. With the proper casting, good writing, directing, and most important, staying true to the characters and the spirit of what makes these heroes stand the test of time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is truly destined to be the greatest series of movies of all time.