Marvel Studios are back with their newest hero, Doctor Strange played by Benedict Cumberbatch. When Marvel bring their new heroes to the screen for the first time it’s always difficult because they have to not only introduce a new character and world to the audience, but also further the full universe’s story.
And in doing this Doctor Strange has a huge undertaking bringing the mystical and magical world, and I think that Doctor Strange does a great job of this. The mystical world is so removed from anything that we’ve previously seen in the MCU, both narratively and visually. And director Scott Derrickson really brings that world to life. The imagination and special effects in the film means that it is possibly the most incredible looking film I’ve ever seen. A lot of people compared the trailers to Inception, but this goes far beyond this in its spectacle.
Cumberbatch does a great as the titular Stephen Strange. He starts the film as an incredibly egotistical and arrogant character. Rather reminiscent of Tony Stark at the start of the first Iron Man, he undergoes a similar journey to Tony; he has to learn that not everything is about him and how to be selfless. The film also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, and Benedict Wong as Strange’s fellow sorcerers. Ejiofor’s Karl Mordo is going to be a character I expect we shall see a lot more of going forward in the MCU, and any fans of the comics will know where his story is going, but with such a brilliant actor it’s exciting to see how it’s played out.
But Doctor Strange is far from a perfect film, and most of its flaws are very common ones for Marvel films. It joins that long-standing Marvel tradition of having a fantastic actor playing a rather uninteresting villain. Remember Jeff Bridges, Christopher Eccelston, Hugo Weaving, Lee Pace and Tim Roth? Well Mads Mikkelsen now joins that list of great actors. He plays a former member of the sorcerers who now seeks eternal life from demon (and the most famous Dr Strange villain in the comics) Dormammu, another character I expect will come into play more in the future.
In the end Doctor Strange does push the MCU into a new area with the magical elements and other dimensions, but narratively it falls back on a lot of what we’ve seen before, and continues the unfortunate tradition of weak Marvel villains. It is still a thoroughly entertain film with the classic Marvel wit and humour, and a new level of impressive visuals, but it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Marvel’s best work.