By John Magee
After making 14 movies, Marvel has had it’s fair share of successes and flops, and with each movie that gets released the standard of quality, each movie must meet rises. “Doctor Strange” meets those requirements with ease re- minding us why we continue to pay billions of dollars for their movies.
Aside from being a well directed, greatly acted and even a better-written movie, “Doctor Strange” did something I was not expecting, it did something truly magical, some- thing that after 14 years of watching comic book movies I didn’t think was possible; “Doctor Strange” showed me something new.
Or more accurately “Doctor Strange” showed me some- thing familiar in a new way. “Doctor Strange” starts out with an exciting battle between two masters of the mysti- cal arts using special effects in a way no other movie really has, not only as a spectacle but as a tool for the characters.
However, it is once Stephen Strange begins his search for answers the movie really becomes unique. We see Dr. Strange go through his training to become a magician not as a montage but as vignettes, short moments from all across his time learning how to use magic without the movie explicitly saying how long any of this is taking, instead visual cues are provided such as the complexity of Strange’s robes or the level of facial hair he has.
Unlike many of the superhero movies I am used to seeing, Dr. Strange doesn’t just train in the art of magic and then go off to fulfill some goal or seek revenge. Instead, all of the action in the movie happens while Strange is still training.
In the move, Dr. Strange’s teacher, The Ancient One, has a lesson for him that instead of trying to fight the cur- rent of the river, he should submit to it and use its power to do what he wants. At the time, Strange has no idea what this means. However, by the end of the movie, he uses this lesson to defeat the villain without knowing it. There aren’t any moments where Strange has a flashback of what The Ancient One said, he never repeats her advice under his breath and he certainly doesn’t hear her voice call those words out to him he just thinks of a plan and enacts it.
The way the movie’s final villain is introduced is an- other great example of how “Dr. Strange” can take some- thing old and make it feel new. At the end of the movie Dormammu, the being giving power to the magicians Dr. Strange fights throughout the movie, is simply shown to us. We do not see glimpses of him periodically, there is no foreboding silhouette and no threats from disembodied voices, we hear his name and how much he is feared and that is all.
The reason I like this so much is because most other movies don’t see fit to use a bad guy unless he sufficiently shown off, Thanos had two movies worth of sitting in a chair before he even said anything and the henchman to DC’s main villain has to be foreshadowed before we even see him. So when a movie just decides to give us a bad guy and let his own scare factor do the talking I welcome the change. Doctor Strange is certainly one of the better Marvel movies to have been released and I eagerly await the sequel.