The Good Guy
The story of Doctor Strange starts predictably enough. He is an arrogant doctor, who believes his life is over after his hands are nearly destroyed from a car accident. Eventually he finds his way to the Himalayan temple of Kamar-Taj and the Ancient One. Here he embarks on a vision quest unlike anything Marvel Studio’s has undertaken before. The Ancient One expands Strange’s mind and he immediately starts his training to become a master sorcerer. He picks up his training with surprising ease and before long he’s kicking bad guy butt. He does this with the help of a magical, sentient, cape too…of course.
The Bad Guy
The main antagonist Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), is a former student of Kamar-Taj. However, since leaving the school he has made a pact with a demonic entity that threatens to end the world. The story is tired and old, however the film has given it a unique boost of colour and flair. Gravity, time and reality all become weapons during the film’s eye-popping magical fight scenes.
Cumberbatch brings a charm to the character that supersedes the character’s arrogance, as he manoeuvres his tongue around words like Dormammu, Agamotto and the Wands of Watoomb with ease. Rachel McAdams and Chiwetel Ejiofor are unfortunately under-utilised, both as talented actors and as characters. Meanwhile, Mikkelsen’s well-worn antagonist is almost forgettable. The riskiest casting though, was that of Swinton as the Ancient One, a role intended for an elderly, Chinese man. However, the move doesn’t seem to have affected the feel of the film, or the box office takings.
Inviting spells and sorcery to the MCU was a bold move for Marvel. It could have been a disaster for the studio, but instead it has boosted the franchise with a new depth and opportunity to delve more into the comic book world of Marvel. Doctor Strange is not a perfect film by any means, but it does feel like it could exist without The Avengers or Marvel. And in spite of its flaws, Doctor Strange has that rare Marvel movie magic.
Doctor Strange is a fantastical journey into the mystic realm, bound to entertain the MCU novice through to the MCU connoisseur.