All right, I got to see the latest big Marvel film! As we inch closer to the long awaited Infinity War, it makes sense to bring in a heavy hitter like Doctor Strange. He will certainly come in handy for the big fights since he is already one of the stronger members on the team. Considering that he has only just begun to learn the mystical arts, he’ll only get stronger from here. This is definitely a solid film and ranks pretty well compared to the other MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) films. I’ll have a list of them from best to worst below.
All right, lets dig into the plot! Doctor Strange was a very successful surgeon. He may have even been the world’s greatest. Unfortunately, he gets into a car crash and his hands are severely damaged. To bring them back to working condition, he heads to the mountains to learn from The Ancient One, who healed a patient in a similar condition. It turns out that she used magical abilities and now Strange can learn these as well. The catch is that Strange will now find himself in the middle of a war between light and dark. Can he help defend the universe or will Strange return to his normal life?
Even before we get to Strange actually becoming adept at using magic and fighting off the villains, the film is pretty fun. I liked Strange quite a lot back in his confident days. You see how he isn’t very heroic as he doesn’t help those who may not make it through the day. Strange was in it for the publicity, but at least he was still helping people. He did it for the wrong reasons, but it could be much worse. I was a little surprised at just how rich he was, but surgeons do make quite a lot of money and if you’re the world’s best..then it makes sense that you’d be rich. I’d call this part the prologue and it’s fairly short. The scenes all go by very quickly and maybe that’s part of why it was fun. It doesn’t drag on, but still lasts long enough for you to get a general feel for how the situation was for Strange and his colleagues.
The action scenes after that certainly live up to the hype. Strange and the other magicians all fight using more of a Green Lantern style than Harry Potter. They use magic to create energy weapons to fight with and can also alter the landscape around them during battle. Magic seems to be able to amp up their physical abilities like in Psyren as well since we see Strange jump long distances and land without injury. His super cape also allows him to fly. This is definitely how I can picture some of the Green Lanterns battling when sparring with each other. Strange’s magic is limited only by his imagination so he can come up with a lot of good weapons.
Since Strange is a genius, he is also able to learn the spells at a rapid pace. He even becomes adept at time spells, which is very handy in a fight. Sure, it can mess with the time stream, but it’s still worth using since it can help the heroes out when they’re in a pinch. With the abilities he showed here, I’d put Dr. Strange ahead of all the Avengers in a fight except for possibly Vision, Thor, and Hulk. Strange’s one weakness seems to be that he’s rather slow..the curse of all spellcasters. He can fly, which helps to make up for that and he can bring his spells up a lot faster than good ole Harry Potter, but it will still be tough to do in time against a speedster. For the Hulk, the problem is that most of his spells probably wouldn’t do much damage to him at the moment. Considering that Strange still has room to improve while the others do not, the tables could turn very quickly. As it is, I consider him to be pretty close to the others. Ms. Marvel should claim 1st easily if she’s handled accurately though.
As I mentioned earlier, Doctor Strange is a great character and the best one in the film. He is certainly charismatic and will remind you of Iron Man. With Iron Man getting mellowed out in his old age, Dr. Strange could become the most charismatic in the MCU. We’ll just have to see if being sorcerer supreme also makes him “wiser” and he loses some of that fiery spirit. Hopefully not! The Ancient One is another one of the big characters here. She’s the mentor figure in the film…and well….we’ll see if you know what that means for her. Regardless, she’s a good character but tends to be a little too cryptic. A few more direct words would have helped clear up some of the major misunderstandings. Perhaps she was just too full of herself or simply thought that she could handle whatever troubles arised. She was fairly tough and was shown to be a more capable fighter than the others. At this point, she is probably still a little stronger than Strange as well. It’s just always going to be tough when you’re outnumbered.
I can’t say that I liked Mordo, but granted, I knew where things were going thanks to the comic. I didn’t expect the road to be traveled so quickly, but here we are. His magic boots are definitely a handy tool to have. I’ll take the cloak personally since it gives auto defense as well, but the boots help Mordo be an aerial fighter. He doesn’t get a whole lot of action here so that’ll probably be more in the sequel. It’s hard to take him seriously as a threat, but a good power up can go a long way.
Christine is the main heroine of the film. As always, I thought that the romance was rather weak and unnecessary here. She wasn’t a bad character though and while she didn’t take the supernatural aspects particularly well, few characters do. Usually, a character only takes it well if it’s a comic relief moment and that wasn’t going to happen here. Christine does give us one of the jump scares in the film so that was neat. I’m hoping that she gets some powers for the sequel since that would help her out quite a bit.
Kaecilius is the main villain and he won’t be the next Loki. He’s essentially Malekith 2.0 or any other average baddy. He wants to destroy the world. That’s basically his only goal. I think one of the reasons why he doesn’t work so well is that this guy has been a disciple of the magical arts for ages. He’s one of the strongest warriors and yet….Doctor Strange is able to give him a good fight and overpower the guy in his very first skirmish. Despite everything that happens afterwards, it sort of destroys the hype around the guy. He’s not a bad villain though and I like him more than Mordo, but there just isn’t much to him.
Now, Dormammu is a solid villain. I didn’t really like the design that he got in this film, but the personality is still intact. When Strange makes his move, Dormammu does his best to keep doing what he does best. His attacks are definitely cool looking and his power is certainly treated with a lot of respect. I don’t see him getting a large role anytime soon as a result, but it was certainly nice to see him. There are some other nice tributes here like the Staff of the Living Tribunal, which pops up. That guy is an interesting figure in the comics as he is supposed to be one of the most powerful beings in the multiverse. I always took that with a grain of salt and believe that the staff proves this. It wasn’t able to break a simple conjured staff. I do want it to appear more in the sequels though as it leads to a lot of questions. Is the Living Tribunal dead? I wouldn’t be surprised, but seeing him and the other big Marvel abstracts on the big screen would be pretty awesome.
It almost goes without saying, but the effects are really good. The scene where Strange is launched into the magic world and the colors start going crazy is certainly the best example of this. I definitely enjoy seeing visuals like that and there is a lot to take in. All of the fight scenes are visually a blast as well. I am confident that the Dr. Strange films will be able to keep this up and it’ll be cool to see it transfer over to Strange’s other films as well. He’ll certainly be returning sooner than later. I can’t really say that the soundtrack was all that memorable though. I forgot most of the tunes right away, but they fit the scenes well enough.
There are two after credit scenes in this film so make sure that you stick around for them. They are the best scenes that we have gotten in quite a while and the first one in particular is a lot of fun. It definitely has a lot of promise and while it wasn’t the Spider-Man, Thor, Dr. Strange, and Ms. Marvel teaming up against Thanos cliffhanger that you may have been expecting, we can be confident that this will be happening soon. The second scene is a little more grim and you’ll definitely feel bad for person X because of what person Y does to him, but it also helps lead into a film and tries to legitimize a threat. Both are important and aren’t filler, which is huge since that has been my problem with some of the other scenes from past films.
Time for that MCU list! There aren’t as many films as in the Godzilla franchise so I won’t be using as many tiers since it would just spread them out needlessly. There will only be three tiers instead. The films that are easily a cut above the rest, the films which are all more or less at around the same level, and the ones that are easily weaker. Lets go!
S. Avengers, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
A. Doctor Strange, Thor 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man 2, Thor, Iron Man, Iron Man 3, Hulk
C Captain America, Ant Man
You should account for recency bias here as the theater effect typically makes a film stand out even more than usual for a few months. That being said, I do think Doctor Strange is a solid enough film to keep this spot for a while and if anything it just speaks to how Marvel has been able to keep up the quality and even improve upon it.
There are certainly a lot of other things to talk about here, but I’m trying to keep this movie completely spoiler free so I’ll have to let them go for now. One thing that I will say is that Strange has a good point about how warnings for spells should be written before the spells. One of the “crimes” that he commits isn’t even that bad if you ask me. It’s always a moral dilemma about how you should wield this fundamental force of nature and it’s too big to tackle in a paragraph, but if you can use it, then you probably should. I think it may play a big role in Infinity War if the Avengers aren’t quite ready for Thanos in the initial confrontation. You can’t even call it a Deux Ex Machina since it is already established and isn’t as easy as snapping your fingers. It would likely only be able to be used once so they wouldn’t have infinite shots. That’s enough hints on that though.
Oh yeah, I should probably just put this out there. Doctor Strange could easily beat Harry Potter and Voldemort in a fight. It’s not even close. In his very first fight with absolutely no prep time, Doctor Strange was able to take on 3 skilled opponents at once. (Probably the best fight scene in the film) Harry wouldn’t have been able to take any of them on. Being able to use spells while also fighting is a skill that will let Strange beat most other opponents. That’s another reason why I liked Strange. He didn’t want to join in the war, but when the fight came to him, he made sure to finish the job and take out his opponents. His only real misstep was snapping at Christine and just watching as the Ancient One was triple teamed. Seriously, he probably should have stepped in or tried to do anything. That would have been very helpful. I’m sure that he won’t panic like that again though and he’s still a rookie (Relatively. Astral Projections eliminate the need for sleep so he’s gotten to improve at triple speeds or more) As far as protagonists for Marvel go, Doctor Strange is probably the most likable one, with Tony Stark being second and maybe Cap being third. Cap’s gotten more likable over the last few films.
Overall, Doctor Strange is another solid installment to the MCU. I’d consider it to be one of the best Marvel films that they’ve put out. It works really well as a stand alone, which is rare for a film this late in the game. It’ll make Strange’s appearances in other films all the more special as he’ll already have had his character development and it will make the film feel more like a crossover. This film balances the more comical aspects with the serious ones pretty well and I’d say that it did a much better job of it here than Age of Ultron. The latter went a little too far with the comedy at some points. The moving buildings angle made for some really fun fights and this is what Thor: The Dark World should have done with Malekith. The fights in Doctor Strange were gimmicky, but still had a lot of action and you couldn’t say that they weren’t fighting. On the contrary, someone was always on the offensive in the fights and it just meant that they had to concentrate on multiple things at once. Magic is such a great ability to have. I certainly recommend checking this film out and then we’ll see if Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Spider-Man can hold their own against this film. It’s certainly going to be tricky,
They’re dooooooomed but if there’s anything we’ve learned about comic book films, it’s that you can’t count them out. After all, Civil War actually made Black Panther a likable character and was able to get me on Team Iron Man for once. Both of those were things that I didn’t think were possible.