Once again, it seems, Marvel has proven that they can take a not as popular hero and create a worldwide successful movie. It’s impressive to be sure, and just further increases the gap between themselves and DC in terms of movie popularity and success. So let’s take a look (spoiler free) at the movie and why it worked so well.
The basic gist of the story is Dr.Strange (played by Benedict Comegetsnatched), a renowned surgeon and all-round egotistical ass crashes his car and loses the use of his hands for the most part. He can still use them, sure, but not for anything that requires precision, like surgery for example. This means that the thing that made him so successful and able to live such a frivolous lifestyle has been ripped away from him. Through his desperate attempts to find a cure for his problem he joins a group of people led by “The Ancient One” as he believes that they hold to key to him regaining full control of his hands. A few typical Marvel funny encounters later and he discovers that they use and control magic and boom bang, there you go, our new superhero emerges to fight the evil magic people.
Yup, magic. I have to admit, I admire Marvel for having the balls to bring magic into the cinematic universe. But what I admire more is how magnificently they did it. It is so easy to make a movie terrible just by throwing in some crappy CGI and unrealistic magic. But Marvel didn’t do that. In fact, everything they do seems to be in some way explainable if only we knew the science behind it. That’s what’s so fantastic about how they did it; it looks like if you took a scientific genius and put them in a room for several months to experiment with it, they could actually figure out how it works. Not only that, but because it feels like it could be possible, then all the worries about magic ruining the movie disappear. It becomes just another part of this ever expanding universe.
What was also done extremely well was the casting. Benedict Crumblepot is of course a fantastic choice and plays the egotistical hero very well (he has quite a bit of experience playing such roles after all). But in fact all of the characters were well cast. It seems to be one of the things Marvel is best at. There was a fair amount of grumbling and grumpy faces from fans when it was announced that the Ancient One would be played not by an Asian old man, but rather by a Caucasian woman. “How dare they!” I assume some people screamed. But Tilda Swinton did an outstanding job and brought real life to the character. Sure, it’s a deviation from the source material, but if it works well, then I personally don’t have an issue with it, and this worked very well.
But the biggest reason why this movie was such a breathe of fresh air to a genre that is beginning to become flooded is just how different, and yet similar, this movie is to the rest. It ticks all the boxes needed for a superhero movie for sure, but it also adds elements that are very rare in the genre. The hero is aware that he isn’t strong enough to win. This is much different when compared to recent superhero movies. IronMan, Superman, Ant-man, and all the others are aware that they could lose, sure, but they know that they can also win. Dr.Strange is different. He knows that he is new to this and is therefore years and even decades behind his enemies in terms of experience and probably skill. But that doesn’t stop him, and rather than having this over the top boost in power to suddenly be able to defeat his enemies, he instead embraces that he is weaker and tries anyway. This really connects with the viewers because apart from it being relatable to a lot of things in real life, this is an all new world for the viewers as well. It makes them connect with him more when they can see him learning all of this at the same time as themselves.
Overall then, Doctor Strange is yet another success for Marvel, who seemingly can do no wrong. Let’s just hope that they don’t start getting cocky and mess it all up because personally I am really excited about the next couple years for superhero movies.