It's been a month since the initial release of Marvel's #DoctorStrange, and it's still one of the most talked about topics on the internet. People simply can't get enough, and can we blame them? The hype around this movie was massive, and just from the trailers we could tell that it was going to mean big things for the MCU. One thing's for sure: This is not your average Marvel movie. Doctor Strange brings a few things to the table — having a somewhat unlikely hero taking the lead, introducing magic into the #MCU, and of course, the film's tone itself is darker than most Marvel films. The internet seems fairly torn. Will these changes be for better or worse?
Dr. Stephen Strange Is Not Your Typical Hero
We meet Stephen Strange when he is at the height of his success. A talented surgeon, he possesses both arrogance and selfishness, though there's no doubt that he brings some humor to the screen too. The car crash — usually the pivotal moment where the hero starts to change — doesn't affect Strange in this way. He becomes more determined than ever, without question, but he still looks out for himself and for his own future above anything else.
However, upon meeting the Ancient One, we start to see slight changes. His thirst for knowledge and truth moves to the forefront, even if he can't quite understand it. He begins to accept that there is more to this world (and others, for that matter) than he can comprehend. But his true change in character comes when he first battles Kaecilius. He doesn't have the proper training, he isn't sworn to defend the Sanctum, but he does. Whether it's his need to protect human life or something else entirely, Strange reacts without thinking, and the result is magical. Benedict Cumberbatch brings the perfect mixture of charm and arrogance to the role, and while he never quite shakes the latter, you just have to look at Tony Stark to see that being an unlikely hero doesn't make you any less of one.
Introducing Magic To The MCU
The whole concept of magic is something that the Marvel Cinematic Universe had tried to stay away from before Doctor Strange. We've seen magic-like abilities, of course, in Thor, but that was explained by aliens rather than actual magic or Gods. In Doctor Strange, they stop beating around the bush and bring the existence of magic into the MCU. This is something many fans were worried about. While Doctor Strange is incredibly powerful, it's easy to make him — and his magic — look a bit silly and feel over the top. But with combined efforts from the incredible Strange team, the magic was nothing short of awesome. I'm sure I speak for many of us when I say that I left the theater wishing I had at least a fraction of those formidable abilities. The mirror dimension has a distinct #Inception vibe, and the whole construct of magic feels very real, almost in a scientific way.
Magic is a finicky thing; it can make or break a franchise, but the trick is making it feel like something that could exist in our world without losing its breathtaking and awe-inspiring nature. Strange worked wonders with this, and if you still haven't seen it, I seriously recommend you view it in 3D — this film was made for it.
Doctor Strange's Notably Dark Tone
When you think comic book movies, you think of two things: #Marvel and #DC. If a superhero film were to come on TV, you would be able to tell immediately who made it. DC is known for it's dark and gritty tone, which it's often criticized for, while Marvel is lighter and funnier, definitely the kind of film you would take your kids to see. Doctor Strange diverts from this, and it was a huge source of controversy. Not only does the film feature more violence, its characters are also more questionable than most. We've already looked at Strange himself, who is more arrogant and conceited than most heroes, but look at The Ancient One — she uses dark powers for (depending on where you stand) the greater good. Not exactly the message you want your kids to take home with you. However, I think a darker tone is exactly what this film needed, and quite frankly, I think it means great things for the MCU.
I adore Marvel, but to be honest, I was starting to feel like I was watching a children's movie. Many of us like films with a bit of an edge, and Doctor Strange gives us this. It shows us heroes that have to make moral sacrifices. When Stephen first kills a man, he's upset with himself. However, as Mordo tells him, sometimes there is no easy way out. This film is adamant that sometimes questionable choices need to be made for the greater good.
Strange certainly didn't lack that classic Marvel charm. Featuring Beyoncé references, a cute name confusion with Mr. Doctor Strange, and of course, the starring role — the powerful (and adorable) Cloak of Levitation, there were plenty of light and hilarious moments in the film. Among those moments of levity was an edge, an edge that maybe doesn't make this film suitable for all audiences. Does that make it any less of a success? I don't believe so.
Doctor Strange is definitely different than your average Marvel film. Some people are calling it the end of Marvel, but others are saying it's bringing Marvel into a new and fantastic era. So far grossing over $500 million worldwide, this latest superhero film is no flop, but for those of you worried that Marvel is taking a page out of DC's book, you can relax — Doctor Strange worked not because it was dark, but because it had an edge, a more complex reality outside of those humorous moments. If anything, you can expect to see that edge again as our heroes face darker and more dangerous threats. But Marvel will continue to prove through its films that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
We can expect to see more of Dr. Stephen Strange in Thor: Ragnarok, set to premiere in late 2017.