First I have to say I’ve always had a soft spot for Doctor Strange. It’s hard to be a big fan of him though because he’s had inconsistent runs with very varied quality in each run. Sure the original stories form Strange Tales were amazing, especially when Steve Ditko did the art and the writing (steveditko.com). Sure Stan Lee helped create Doctor Strange but the crazy mystical and yes psychedelic art was all Ditko and it helped give a very surreal and otherworldly feel to the comic.
But on the movie, itself it gets they key points of the origins right. Doctor Stephen Strange is an almost god like surgeon that causes him to an ego that almost overshadows his skill. Then in a freak automobile accident his hands are ruined and his world is shattered because of it. He searches for a cure for his broken hands but modern medicine is unable to fix him. So he turns to more esoteric methods as a last ditch effort. This leads him to the Ancient One, the current Sorcerer Supreme of this Dimension. With Dr Strange’s unnatural focus and willpower he quickly learns and even surpasses the other students. And that is where the Movie and the Comics start to diverge some. Yes the Ancient One still dies at the hands of a traitorous pupil, but in the movie they raise the status of one of the villainous lackeys to be the main villain in this first film. I imagine they do this to make the original arch – nemesis of Doctor Strange (who is in the first movie) be more sympathetic to the viewers which the character has a dark turn. In the comic the arch nemesis was always bad and actually helped move Strange along the path of magic.
Problem with this idea of developing the arch nemesis for the inevitable sequel is that there isn’t much develop of any character in the movie beyond Dr. Strange. The movie is filled with so much CGI and funny one liners, there isn’t room for much else. The worse is Rachel McAdams’ character. You could have removed her character from the movie and it wouldn’t have a noticeable impact. To be fair some of the characters never had much to depth in the comics to mine any good material from. Wong was always just the loyal manservant and even the Ancient One was the stereotypical cryptic old master who had to harshly teach the stubborn and ignorant young student.
But at its core for me, Doctor Strange has always been about mind over matter. Most of Doctor Strange’s greatest battles were one though sheer willpower and/or using his wits to outsmart his opponent. The final battle with the true villain Dormammu was a perfect example of that. Despite Dormammu’s dimensional shattering might, it’s a simple trick that Dr. Strange uses to defeat Dormammu.
Which leaves me to one of the few complaints in the movie. The original Eye of Agamotto was used mainly for dispelling of illusions and such, which makes sense considering Ditko based the Eye on the Buddhist All Seeing Eye of the Buddha. In the movie, it’s changed manipulating time so the ending works via that device and I’m guessing so it could be the Infinity Stone of Time. Which is my second complaint, that the Eye of Agamotto is made an Infinity Stone so it’s tied to the other movies. After Captain America – Civil War, I have fatigue on how heavy handed they just connect the movies together. Like Black Panther being in Civil War purely because he had a movie coming up. Sure the original cameos were cute, but the current trend to tie the movies more closely together over plot and story is getting annoying. Sure the mention of the Eye being an Infinity Stone doesn’t take much time from the movie, but the moment I heard the line spoke I was pulled out of the movie.
But overall I enjoyed the movie and would gladly see it again on like IMAX.
I give it a 3.5 out 5.
If you wish to learn more about Dr Strange please go to – Doctor Strange on marvel.com