This is a very crucial time for both Marvel, the superhero genre and fans of the genre. The overabundance of superhero films has led to a tiresome atmosphere in the movie geek crowd. We’re all bored of seeing the same story beats over and over again, and it was pertinent to get something different. Deadpool was a breath of fresh air and it was about time Marvel pulled up their socks. You’ll be glad to know Marvel listened to your complaints — Doctor Strange though not a game changer is just ‘different enough’ to be very entertaining.
So this time we have a genius doctor name Stephen Strange(Benedict Cumberbatch) who gets involved in a terrible accident and procures a superpower when he visits a guru called The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) in Nepal. The problem of ‘how and why does he become a superhero’ is solved quickly enough so you don’t have to wait before the villain arrives and the fireworks begins. Like in Ant Man a smaller scale initially takes center stage but of course that expands slowly into a gigantic intergalactic scale before you blink.
What works best is how this film looks like an acid trip. Marvel made an amazing decision by putting horror film director Scott Derrickson at the helm seeing as he brings some truly eye popping weird imagery to the screens. If you liked the shot of the folding city in Inception, this film takes that scene and cranks it up a few hundred notches. The whole film in fact looks like an MC Escher mind trip and axis changes, things duplicate, reverse and bend in wayward directions.
To get an idea as to what to expect there’s a shot of a hand’s fingers growing separate hands with fingers than grow hands, and so forth. If you’re going to watch the movie intoxicated on your favourite illegal substance you’ll be guaranteed to have an interesting experience. Couple the insane visuals with ‘Rick and Morty’ style humor thanks to co writer Dan Hammon it’s a big screen spectacle that you’ll actually want to revisit on the IMAX screens again.
Since this is a Marvel film it comes with its standard list of setbacks. The principal one being a terribly written villain of the week, this time played by Mads Mikkelsen. You’d think an actor as prolific as him would finally break the weak villain curse but he’s also given weak motivation, cardboard cut ‘villainness’ and an ultimate goal that doesn’t make any sense. Juxtaposing such a massive visual scale in the movie to such a tiny villain makes the final fight between Strange and Mikkelsen’s character (I can’t even remember his name) quite anti climactic. Luckily there are some other villain-based aspects best not spoiled to look forward to in the future films.
You’ll quickly notice how similar the character of Doctor Strange is to Iron Man. They’re both egotistical cocky geniuses whose powers are fueled by a mystic circular instrument and weakness fueled by ego. Though that’s not a trait common only to these two characters in the comicverse it becomes pretty obvious while watching this film that Strange is being prepped up and positioned as the eventual replacement to Iron Man. There’s going to be a moment when Downey Jr hangs up his Iron Man boots, and Marvel has a younger massive star whose character possesses wiseass humour, immense power and leadership qualities to lead the Avengers. And if this movie is any indication Marvel understands that they need to change the fabric of their films to keep things fresh. Not to take an unnecessary dig at DC but after this I really can’t see how they’re going to catch up to them. Thor Ragnarok, despite having my least favourite character and canon of films in the MCU is now my most anticipated superhero movie of next year.