You’re a man looking at the world through a keyhole. You’ve spent your life trying to widen it. Your work saved the lives of thousands. What if I told you that reality is one of many?
When the Marvel Cinematic Universe made its debut, superhero movies were common, but they were not as big of a phenomenon as they are now. Yet due to the success of films such as The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and the biggest example, The Avengers, the interest in films that depict real life versions of comic book characters soared. And with the increase of demand in superhero movies, comes an increase in supply, which has led to superhero movies being a Hollywood craze. There have now been six films of the genre in just 2016, and this oversaturation could cause a genre fatigue for some. Doctor Strange felt like it was aware of this dilemma, so it took the superhero genre in a direction that has not been seen before – a mystical one.
The action in superhero filmmaking has become rather formulaic and tiresome due to an overabundance. Usually it is just the heroes punching villains (or sometimes themselves) with grand set pieces thrown in to mix things up. Whether it is in an airport, on a bridge, or on a deserted island, this style of action is beginning to blend all together, and does not feel original anymore. Due to the fact that Doctor Strange incorporates magic, it allows for more creative fight scenes that contribute to a feeling of being on a roller coaster. Director Scott Derrickson incorporates a unique style into the film by taking advantage of the mystical elements to create uniquely depicted action. There are parts of the film that feel incredibly surreal that likely has not been seen in cinema before.
While the visual filmmaking of Doctor Strange is one of the best in any superhero films out there, the story elements feel secondary. The plot is not weak, just very standard. The film’s story beats go through familiar tropes that likely feels incredibly familiar to the audience, including Doctor Strange himself. Benedict Cumberbatch has a great performance as usual, but his character feels like a carbon copy of Iron Man. He is arrogant, has a witty sense of humour, and has to learn to let go of his ego in order to succeed. The latter is a theme reminded throughout the film, but whenever it did, I could not help but get Iron Man flashbacks, which had a similar character arc but done more subtly. Nonetheless, the story is still serviceable, as it did not have any egregious moments.
Overall Doctor Strange is one of the best Marvel Cinematic Films. They are all beginning to blend in together with similar conventions and executions, and yet this one manages to stand out. None of these films have the most complex or engaging stories, they are mostly meant to be crowd pleasers with intense action and grand set pieces. Doctor Strange does not only supply this, but it does so in such a distinct way that makes it a joy ride to watch the action unfold. It is original, splendid, and most importantly, fun.