Doctor Strange – The Road to Endgame

Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in Marvel's Doctor Strange.

Doctor Strange delivers a satisfying origin story for the Sorcerer Supreme while drawing upon the comic book visuals in an entertaining way.

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is certainly one of the world’s best neurosurgeons.  Well, he was until he ended up in an awful car accident.  His former girlfriend and fellow co-worker, Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), tries her best to help him move forward.  Unfortunately, he’s every bit as stubborn and won’t mind wiping out his finances in the process of undergoing surgeries.

While Marvel heroes tend to get their powers as a result of some sort of freak accident, Strange isn’t exactly one of them.  Once he learns about Jonathan Pangborn (Benjamin Bratt) and how this former paraplegic got his legs back, Strange ends up traveling to Kamar-Taj.  Strange soon discovers that this world isn’t what it seems.  This enclave–it turns out–is working to defeat dark forces.  It’s here where the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) teaches Strange about this new reality.

As is the usual case, there’s somebody working to destroy them.  In this case, it’s one of the Ancient One’s former students, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen).  Believing that the Ancient One is holding him back, Kaecilius takes matters into his own hands.  It’s up to Strange, Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and Wong (Benedict Wong) to save the day.

When we finally enter the additional dimensions, the film becomes quite colorful to say the least.  If you’re familiar with the comics, it’s not a surprise.  The look here is a fantastic tribute to the likes of Steve Ditko and other artists who followed.   The visual effects as a whole are quite stunning to say the least.  Watching the action scenes unfold becomes something else entirely!  Compared to the earlier Marvel films, Doctor Strange breaks new ground in quite a big way.  What this film has–that the earlier film’s don’t–is that Marvel is tackling the world of the supernatural for the first time.

The film also manages to accomplish another thing here.  It introduces us to the Eye of Agamotto–one of the few Infinity Stones.  This one has the ability to bend time.  Dr. Strange finds himself using the stone’s power more than once.  One of those times is certainly playing for laughs.

I’ll say this about Tilda Swinton.  She’s a solid actress but there’s certainly an issue with casting her if we’re staying true to the comics.  Swinton portrays the Ancient One.  In the comics, this character predates Strange’s role as Sorcerer Supreme.  If they had an Asian person play the role, there would probably be a fine line regarding stereotypes.  This doesn’t take away the whitewashing of the role but ultimately, it’s a lose-lose situation.

Meanwhile, the two scenes during the credits tease the future.  The mid-credits scene teases Doctor Strange’s involvement in Thor: Ragnarok.  The last scene teases Mordo’s role as a villain/rival/enemy going forward in the franchise.

While Doctor Strange sets up the Multiverse, the film does so in a visually splendid manner.

DIRECTOR:  Scott Derrickson
SCREENWRITERS:  Jon Spaihts and Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill
CAST:  Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, with Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton

Marvel opened Doctor Strange in theaters on November 4, 2016. The film is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.