I was able to see Doctor Strange opening weekend, and while I expected Benedict Cumberbatch to be good as the titular character, I didn’t expect to enjoy the film as a whole as much as I did.
Yes, we get an origin story, but considering that it’s Doctor Strange, I’m okay with that because, well, it’s Doctor Strange. I’ve been reading comics for over 35 years and I don’t know that much about his back story, so what do the plebes out there going to know? :) Cumberbatch does a good job at riding that fine line of arrogance–not too much to turn us off, but enough to show that he’s brilliant at what he does. It doesn’t hurt that he’s partnered with Rachel McAdams’s Christine Palmer. While she had about as much to do (maybe a little more) as Natalie Portman in the Thor movies, she definitely helps to humanize Strange (I actually wished we had more scenes with her). However, I did walk out of the movie thinking that Marvel needs to do better by its female characters, supporting or not.
The other characters were played by strong talents, too. There’s mentor then sidekick Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo, Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One (apparently a Celt in the MCU), and Benedict Wong as Wong, in a hilarious take of the character that I hadn’t seen in the comics before (one library scene had me and the rest of the theatre LOLing). Mads Mikkelsen was fine as the antagonist, and he had a bit more motivation to be the bad guy than those in other MCU movies. And it has to be said that Strange’s cape should receive special recognition as a supporting character.
For a story about a guy who loses the one thing that he’s great at and then finds that there is this other world (or worlds, as we discover) that’s just out of his reach (at least for 2/3 of the film), it was also surprisingly funny, thus continuing Marvel’s penchant for strong enough plot with some laughs to entertain us for a few hours. Also, the warping building special effects, while looking way too much like that from Inception, was still a visual treat compared to other Marvel and DC superhero films. I especially liked the Dark Dimension, which looked like something out of a Steve Ditko Doctor Strange comic. I also liked how Strange “defeated” the ultimate bad guy, even if was a bit too easily done.
All in all, I really enjoyed the focus on character and the strong, if predictable, plot. Considering what was shown in the mid and post-credit scenes, I’m looking forward to seeing more of Doctor Stephen Strange. But don’t just take my words for it—what are your thoughts about Doctor Strange?