Doctor Strange: We’ve Come To Haggle
– A Hero Corner Review by David 2

When it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there is an axiom about magic simply being technology not yet explained.  This was the theme when it came to the “Thor” series, with Jane Foster being able to explain Asgardian technology in ways that she could understand, much to the surprise of the Asgardians.  And, of course, narcissistic genius and whiny little bitch Tony Stark is the premiere champion of explaining the metaphysical in scientific ways.

So when it comes to showing what cannot be explained by technology, Marvel turns to their supposed “Sorcerer Supreme”, Doctor Strange.

But, of course, we have to get to that point first.

“Doctor Strange” is a 2016 movie released by Marvel Studios, a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios.  It stars “Sherlock” star Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen, and Tilda Swinton.

Much like Cumberbatch’s “Sherlock” counterpart, Robert Downey Jr., and his version of “Iron Man”, Strange’s story runs pretty close to his comic book origins.  Dr. Stephen Strange is a brilliant and talented surgeon.  Much like Tony Stark in his pre-hero years, Strange’s success also has made him arrogant and cocky.  But rather than a terrorist group, it’s Strange’s own carelessness while driving that takes him down.  The car wreck destroys his hands, rendering him incapable of being a surgeon ever again.  He begins to distance himself from everyone, including his former girlfriend and fellow surgeon Christine Palmer (McAdams).

Then he hears about a man who was crippled but somehow learned how to walk.  His curiosity took him to a place called Kamar-Taj, where a man named Mordo (Ejiofor) introduces him to “The Ancient One” (Swinton).  The Ancient One shows him the mystical world, including the Mirror Dimension, where the laws of time and space and reality are malleable.  Although he is reluctant to take Strange in, the Ancient One does and pairs Strange up with Mordo.

Strange learns that the Ancient One and the others in Kamar-Taj are protectors of the planet from threats in other realities.  They have protected the world through a series of sanctums, including one in New York City, which they can access through special doors in Kamar-Taj.  He also learns about what happened to another one of the Ancient One’s students, a man named Kaecilius, who stole important pages of one book.  Borrowing the Eye of Agamotto, Strange reverses time and finds the missing pages and learns that Kaecilius stole the information on how to reach Dormammu in the Dark Dimension.  Kaecilius uses his power to destroy the London Sanctum and kills the guardian of the New York Sanctum.  He is unable to destroy the New York sanctum, however, because Strange and Mordo arrive and stop him.  The Ancient One confronts Kaecilius, and Strange and Morodo discover the Ancient One’s secret.

I’ll leave it here, lest I give away too much.

The story is unique in many ways, including the casting.  This is not the first time that Tilde Swinton has played a gender-bending character in a comic book movie (check out the 2005 movie “Constantine” if you don’t believe me), but it was her casting in a role that was originally a male that caught the ire of some self-professed “social justice warriors”.  Nevertheless, she played it quite well.  Same for Cumberbatch in the title role of Strange.  Much like Downey Jr., it feels like this character was almost made for Cumberbatch.  All we needed was to see him become the character.

The struggle, of course, is getting there.  There was a lot of emphasis on seeing Strange debilitated and desperate so that when it came to the final confrontation, it seemed almost rushed.  Nevertheless, points go to how it was resolved.  The secret of “The Eye” was almost a no-brainer once you saw it in use.  I was waiting for Wong to come out and say what it really was, and, of course, I was not disappointed here.

The post-credit scenes leave much to be desired.  One is a blatant tie-in to “Thor: Ragnarök”, and the other sets up a possible sequel, with a certain character (whom I won’t spoil but you probably know already) making a full turn to his “true nature”.

In all, “Doctor Strange” tells a good Marvel story and sets the stage for the future “Avengers” team-up.  It’s not a “great” story, but you can tell that the folks at Mighty Marvel are just trying to get through to that “big movie”.

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