Warning: Mild Spoilers for Doctor Strange are in play. If you haven't seen the film, open up a portal out of here and come back when you've seen the film.
From the moment it was announced, Doctor Strange had a rather interesting handicap to its credit: it was yet another Marvel Cinematic Universe origin story. Yet as fatigued as the origin story road is, particularly in the MCU, there are some key aspects that make the Sorcerer Supreme's introduction to our lives all the more interesting. In fact, it's probably one of the best origin films that Marvel has put out in its entire canon. Bold claim, I know, but I can defend it just as boldly, as there are six big reasons why Doctor Strange works extremely well, both as an origin and as an MCU film that advances the overall story arc.
Strange's Accident Leads to a More Personal Origin Story
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we've seen heroes that have either fought to become the super-powered beings, or become heroes out of sheer necessity. With Doctor Strange, our protagonist is driven purely out of personal pride, longing to just become a "normal" person again. Stephen only wants his powers as an expert surgeon back, and at certain points of the film's story he even expresses that he'd be perfectly fine with just going back to being the top flight surgeon he's been known to be. Only through a journey of self discovery, and some random action he finds himself thrown into, does Stephen Strange eventually decide to become a sorcerer dedicated to protecting the Earth. By time he faces Dormammu, he's willing to sacrifice his own life to annoy a being beyond space and time, just so we can live freely.
The Humor is Organic to the Story
With contributions from Jon Spaights, Scott Derrickson, and C. Robert Cargill making up the sum total of the Doctor Strange script, there's plenty of action and supernatural goings on to make up the majority of the film's plotting. Yet, as with most Marvel films, an undercurrent of humor is much appreciated, and in the case of Strange, it's not too heavy on the standard "new guy on the block" humor an origin would usually entail. Stephen Strange is a smart ass being proven wrong at almost every turn, and not just because he's new to this world... but because he's so used to being right all the time. Also, the quippy comebacks and funny callbacks to earlier moments from the film really work to cause some fun laughs, but not to get in the way of the story that's being told.
The Villain Actually Has a Purpose
Leave it to a quasi-religiously motivated villain such as Kaecilius to be one of the best Marvel villains to hit the screen since... well, since Captain America: Civil War's Zemo; and leave it to the folks in casting to bring in yet another fantastic actor to play him! Much like Daniel Bruhl in this summer's MCU blockbuster, Mads Mikkelsen is a believable foil for the good Doctor, as a man who feels the teachings of the Ancient One are not only hypocritical, they're also flat-out wrong. Also, whether he knew it or not, Kaecilius accidentally helps create a future villain for the Doctor Strange story, as his startling revelation involving the Ancient One leads to Strange trusting her more, and Baron Mordo eventually branching off to become a baddie himself. Both his direct, and indirect actions to the storyline push things along, without needing to merely make the villain a mirror for the hero to gaze upon and learn their lesson.
The Origin Opens a Totally Different Corner of the Marvel Universe
Much like Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange opens up a whole new portion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With his transition to the position of mystical defender of New York City, Strange has introduced us all to the magical corner of the MCU, with Guardians initiating the cosmic storyline and The Avengers kicking off the MCU in general. With Iron Fist coming next year, and tons of supernatural characters waiting in the wings to make their debut, things are only going to get more mystical and magical from this point forward. Also, just in case anyone was wondering how this would tie into the MCU's core story arc, there's a great post-credits scene that more specifically ties Doctor Strange into one of Marvel's next two films coming in 2017.
It Automatically Lends Itself to a Sequel
With great superhero films comes great opportunities to explore their personal stories through multiple films, and Doctor Strange is no different. However, the possibility of future tales of Strange magic are an easier prospect than one would think, and that's thanks to two very important things that are introduced in the film: the Time Stone and the Multiverse theory. Putting both of those aspects into play, time and space can be manipulated to the point where literally anything can happen. Characters could be brought back from the dead, face their alternate universe equivalents, or even not exist at all, thanks to the Eye of Agamotto and the mystical arts! In fact, the only real limit to the places Doctor Strange can go as a franchise is really up to how far the writers want to take the magic without looking ridiculous. It's a blank check, but one that should be used responsibly.
He Actually Gets to Have a Full Adventure
Normally, the superhero origin story focuses more on a hero getting their powers, with whatever battle their fighting coming in as a distant second in the storytelling race. At most, a typical first feature in a hero franchise shows how they became who they are, how they discover their powers, and how they fight their first battle, leading to a life of defending whatever they're tasked with. There's nothing wrong with that, but if you're going to delve into another origin story, it has to be set apart from the rest of the pack. Which is just what Doctor Strange does, as it hits those usual hero origin beats while also giving Stephen Strange plenty of chances to mix it up with the bad guys along the way. It's this decision that ultimately enhances the pacing of the film, while at the same time allowing the story to fully develop a proper foundation for future adventures.
Doctor Strange is in theaters now, so you don't just have to take our word for it. Though we do recommend you see the film in IMAX 3D, should you be so inclined.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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