As a lifelong comic book geek who has put up with lots of bad movies and TV shows prior to CGI, I am in nirvana right now. We have had an annual dose of great comic book movies, some good and some bad, but they keep getting better and better. This weekend, I went to see the latest Marvel Studios movie, Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong and Mads Mikkelsen. I saw it in IMAX 3D, which I would recommend you seeing it in. The visual effects of this movie will amaze you in IMAX and it’s well worth a few dollars more. The creation of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko was actually made into a TV movie in the 70s (I remember watching it, it was terrible) but this is his first jaunt onto the big screen.
This is our first venture into magic and mysticism in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), although one could say the two Thor movies, and Thor: Ragnarok coming out next year, was like dipping your big toe in the pool of magic. Magic in the MCU, according to Thor, is what we call science in the real world. I did like how the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) explained it in Doctor Strange. Magic is energy and “spells are programs” to bend it to the will of the sorcerer.
In any case, this is a full-on origin story but it does take place over the span of previous Marvel movies. Stephen Strange’s name was mentioned in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a target Hydra needed to eliminate; and in this movie, he was given the option of a surgical consult on an “Air Force Colonel who severed his spine in an armored mech suit” a la War Machine in Captain America: Civil War. You also see the Avengers Tower in the New York skyline during various scenes in the movie. As an origin movie, I like how they cut straight to the chase and didn’t draw out his entire life story in the first hour. It was quick and to the point, though a rumored scene showing how the death of his sister led him to medicine might have been a nice touch, Maybe we’ll see it in the Blu-Ray/DvD release.
The whole movie is not about Strange becoming a sorcerer, but rather it focuses on a former student of Ancient One (Mads Mikkelsen) who wants to “save” our world by ending death through eternal life in the Dark Dimension. Here we see the real villain behind the scenes, Dormammu. Whereas Thanos is the big bad cosmic being the rest of the MCU is worried about, Dormammu is the big bad of the magical world within the MCU. You really get to see all the evil that is Dormammu in the final boss fight (sorry but a video game reference is the only way to describe it).
This movie has a great cast, outstanding visual effects, and story that even the most novice comic book fan can follow. It takes Doctor Strange from being an egotistical surgeon to being a humble man taking on the awesome responsibilities as sorcerer supreme. It’s a great story with the perfect blend of action, humor, and serious drama. I wanted to see more backstory on some of the other characters, but I do realize it’s a movie about Doctor Strange so the others will have to wait for the sequel.
Like all Marvel movies, there were great mid-credits and post-credits scenes. The mid-credit scene set up Thor: Ragnarok beautifully while the end credits gave us a glimpse as to where they would take a sequel to Doctor Strange. In addition, there are dozens of “Easter Eggs” that many comic book fans will know and appreciate.
This is a great movie and worth the price of admission. It just leaves you wanting more from the MCU, but now we have to wait until 2017 for Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (May 2017), Spiderman: Homecoming (July 2017) and Thor: Ragnarok (November 2017).
Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse. The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.