Marvel introduces us to the superhero that can see multiple different versions of events and figure out which is the best route to take in “Doctor Strange.” The 2016 film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Steven Strange, an acclaimed and arrogant neurosurgeon who, after being injured in a car crash, learns the ways of the mystic arts to help him heal. In turn, he becomes the superhero Doctor Strange and works to protect Earth from the threat of Dormammu, a villain from the Dark Dimension.
This is an interesting film, to say the least. Doctor Strange’s journey is very similar to that of Tony Stark. Both were tops in their respective fields and liked to flaunt how good they are. Both end up at the mercy of someone else; Stark when he’s taken hostage and Strange when his hands are badly injured in the car crash. While both had been doing things that were helpful in the past, both learn they have to more to save people. And, when both stop thinking about themselves, that’s when both truly become heroes.
But, with the additions of multiple dimensions and the mystic arts, “Doctor Strange” deviates from the path of “Iron Man.” Tony Stark is a man of science all the way to the end of his life. Stephen Strange starts out as a man of science, not believe the Ancient One when she explains the mystic arts to him. But, eventually, Strange comes to accept there is more than science at work and accepts his role as guardian of the time stone, something that will become very important in later Marvel movies.
So, while not exactly the same, this film can feel like a rehash of the original “Iron Man” plot. But, origin stories constantly present a problem where too many superheroes become superheroes in similar ways. A friend of mine described the film as “Iron Man” on something. And, that’s pretty how I would describe it as well.
Despite its flaws, this film has an amazing cast that can make up for those issues. Benedict Cumberbatch is an accomplished British actor, who does an amazing job in everything he’s in (as long as he doesn’t have to say penguin.) He nails the essence of Doctor Strange, although he does struggle with the American accent at times. Mads Mikkelsen plays the wonderfully villainous Kaecilius. If you need a villain, he’s perfect for the role. And Tilda Swinton is an accomplished actress who brings an interesting flair to the Ancient One. She was an odd choice that caused some backlash, but she played the role well and made me forget about the controversy.
Of all the origin stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is my least favorite. While he’s similar to Tony Stark, Strange lacks Stark’s charm. He lacks Steve Rogers’ sense of purpose. He doesn’t feel as special as Thor or Black Panther and he’s not as fun as Ant-Man or Spider-Man. He’s too serious for his own good and while that’s perfect for how Doctor Strange is written, it doesn’t draw me in the way others do. It’s a good movie, but not always a good time.
Ranking: 2.5 stars out of 5
Have you seen “Doctor Strange?” What did you think?