Marvel's Doctor Strange is a truly amazing film, with spectacular effects, humor and a decent plot. However, while I enjoyed the new experience, there seemed to be something oddly familiar about the story. #Marvel isn't known for having insanely intricate plots in all of its movies, but this seemed different.
It took me a couple of days to figure out, but I suddenly realized what it was: I had seen this same plot unfold time after time in the Elder Scrolls video game series, including #Skyrim and Oblivion.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Doctor Strange (and the Elder Scrolls games).
Anyone who has played Morrowind, Oblivion or Skyrim knows that these RPG games include a hell of a lot more than just their main story arc. In between the main quests of the games and the minor quests are the faction quest lines. These are shorter quest lines focused around a group / faction, including the Dark Brotherhood, the Mages' Guild / College of Winterhold, The Thieves' Guild, etc. Whenever I played the games, I felt the need to complete all of these lines, despite one drawback: they all have the same plot pattern.
The factions' plot pattern is rather simple, yet surprisingly, this pattern was insanely similar to the plot in #DoctorStrange. How so? Well, let's break up the basic plot of the Skryim factions, and compare them to the plot of Marvel's latest superhero flick...
The Hero Joins A Private Group And Is Met With Resistance
In pretty much every Skryim faction, as soon as the player joins, most of the members of the group do not like him / her, despite them being the savior of the entire world. However, there is always at least one member of the faction that actually sees something in the hero.
In Doctor Strange, Stephen is first rejected from Kamar-Taj because the Ancient One doesn't like him. Mordo is the member who stands up for Strange and convinces the Ancient One to let him in. Despite this, members of the group - such as Wong, the librarian- remain wary of the newcomer.
A Former Member Poses A Threat To The Faction
After the hero learns more about the group, a mysterious former member (usually) enters the frame. This is a character who was often trained by the leader of the faction, but betrayed them because they didn't like the faction's rules. This is not true for all of the factions in Skryim, but it is true for factions such as The Thieves' Guild, The College of Winterhold and the Dark Brotherhood. In other Elder Scrolls games, it was also applicable. Fittingly, the hero is tasked to take care of the issue (for whatever reason).
In Doctor Strange, after Stephen learns more about the group, Kaecilius enters the picture. As we learned, Kaecilius was a former member of their group who was also trained by The Ancient One, but he left because he didn't approve of the rules and limits imposed upon him. When the sh*t hits the fan, much of the weight falls on Strange's shoulders.
The Leader Of The Group Tragically Falls
In every faction in Skryim, and nearly every faction in Oblivion, the leader is killed, typically by the former member. This betrayal is always a shocking twist, but eventually became predictable the fourth or fifth time around.
In Doctor Strange, the Ancient One, who was Sorcerer Supreme at the time, was killed by Kaecilius, similar to all the faction leaders in Skryim. This death took away hope, and left a gaping hole in the group. Without a leader, who would lead?
The Faction Nears A Pitiful End
In all the factions in Skryim, after the leader is killed, the lack of leadership leaves the group open to attack. This ranges from a general fear to legitimate destruction. Hell, in the Dark Brotherhood storyline, the entire base of the faction is invaded and destroyed, leaving only two of the other characters alive.
After the Ancient One's death in Doctor Strange, Kaecilius and his minions take over the London sanctum, followed by the Hong Kong wing. Many of the sorcerers were killed and, like all the factions in Skryim, it seemed clear that the group would soon face its untimely end.
The Hero Defeats The Villain And Suddenly Becomes The Leader Of The Group
In all the factions, once the hero defeats the antagonist, he is named the unquestioned leader of the faction. Who cares if he's only been in the group for a few days? Who cares if you named him the leader of the College of Winterhold even though he didn't cast a single spell during the entire quest line? He defeated the bad guy, so he's the leader! Meanwhile, there is always an assistant with way more experience and credentials in the group that literally does all the work, but no one ever thinks of them.
Check out this video of behind the scenes clips from Doctor Strange:
Granted, Doctor Strange is not named Sorcerer Supreme by the end of his cinematic debut, but anyone who knows the comics is aware that he'll eventually become Sorcerer Supreme, probably between now and when we see him again in Thor: Ragnarok. While he's not Sorcerer Supreme yet, Strange is made the leader of the Sanctum Sanctorum in New York City, despite the fact that Wong clearly deserves the title more. After all, the long suffering librarian is far more experienced and does most of the work, but no one questions this because Wong wasn't the hero...
I could just be picking at straws, but honestly, this similarity is uncanny. Does it make the movie less entertaining for me? Not at all! I still loved Doctor Strange, and I'm just glad I finally figured out why the plot seemed so familiar. Whether the writers took direct inspiration from the Skyrim games or not remains to be seen, but so long as Thanos doesn't appear in Avengers: Infinity War as a soul-stealing dragon, I won't think much of it.