*Warning: This article contains spoilers for Doctor Strange*
"Forget everything that you think you know."
Those are the words of Baron Mordo in Doctor Strange, the #MCU's exploration into the mystic arts. They're apt words, as the film lived up to its name by offering a fresh and alternate take on the superhero movie genre.
One of the standout deviation from superhero tropes came in the form of #DoctorStrange's (#BenedictCumberbatch) final battle with #Dormammu. Instead of relying on might, Strange uses his intellect (with the little help from the Eye of Agamotto) to bargain with one of Marvel's most formidable opponents.
- E=MCU: Linking The Dimensions Of Doctor Strange And Inception Using Quantum Physics And Philosophical Theory
- Doctor Strange Theory Reveals The Hidden Genius Of The Eccentric Final Battle
- 3D, Or Not 3D? That's The Question: Why Doctor Strange Is Must Watch In IMAX
As well as being a pleasant and surprising deviation from most Marvel stand-offs, Strange's motivation to use more conciliatory means is rooted in a subtle moral story behind the character's transformation. In a Q&A on Reddit, Doctor Strange co-writer C. Robert Cargill revealed that, for the time-bending protagonist, destruction was not an option. He wrote:
"The idea of that scene was exactly what you'd expect - to subvert the expectations of the audience, offering a headier, more magical ending over a violent confrontation. The movie is thematically about healing - it doesn't make sense to win by destroying things. Our hero had to put things back together. He's the hero that chooses to protect and heal the world rather than himself."
A Story Of Healing, Not Destruction
For all of Strange's arrogance, this explanation goes some way to proving that, eventually, he manages to overcome his ego and see the bigger picture. Not only has he transformed his skill during his battle with Dormammu, he's also shifted his mindset.
Cargill, who also co-wrote the chilling horror Sinister, also addressed the issue with Strange's skill in combat. In the final cut, it feels as if the future Sorcerer Supreme had an unlikely shift in skill level, before fighting the Zealots and Kaecilius. Cargill admits the pacing of the edit glossed over the length of time Strange had spent training at Kamar Taj.
Plus, he also highlights how, far from being a seasoned warrior, Strange manages to overcome his opponents by a mixture of luck, chemistry and levitating cloaks, confirming that at the time, Strange is "clever and lucky, not superior."
During the Q&A, Cargill also provided an interesting insight in how to approach the balance between fans and critics. Comic book adaptations have suffered between conflicting viewpoints, with this year's Batman v Superman being a perfect example of the disparity between audiences and reviewers. As a writer, Cargill expressed his approach:
"When working with Scott [Derrickson] I tend to focus on critical reaction, letting him focus on audience reaction so we have voices arguing the merits of both. The hope is that you find the perfect middle ground, but sometimes that just isn't possible"
This balance is intriguing, especially with superhero movies. Fans of the comics will of course be judging a film from a different perspective as critics, and will expect some levels of fan service. Considering the success of Doctor Strange however, it's safe to say the spirit level (pun intended) was accurate on this one.
Did you enjoy Doctor Strange's final showdown?