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Like Iron Man, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and Ant-Man before it, Scott Derrickson's Doctor Strange is another "origin story" chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Rather than centering on the hero in his iconic form, the decision was made that the movie should fully explain how Dr. Stephen Strange went from being a surgeon to a master sorcerer. Given how common these movies are at Marvel Studios, this decision ultimately didn't shock anybody, but it should be noted that the film's writers did think twice about the idea.
This interesting bit of backstory on Doctor Strange was given to me by Jon Spaihts, who co-wrote the superhero movie with director Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill. During a one-on-one interview earlier this month, I asked Spaihts about the potential plots and assorted materials that he may have inherited from Marvel when he first signed on to the project -- and after explaining that he and his co-writers were pretty much given carte blanche in terms of direction, he noted that they toyed with the idea of not making the film an origin story. Said the writer,
Hearing this, I inquired about the argument that was made for the non-origin story route, and why Jon Spaihts and his Doctor Strange colleagues ultimately went the way that they did with the script. He explained,
While Jon Spaihts didn't directly mention it, there is another important argument to be made for why Doctor Strange really did need to be an origin story: the introduction of magic. It's true that Marvel Cinematic Universe fans have gotten a taste of magic in the past, namely with the introduction of Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch, but Doctor Strange is the first film in the canon to dive head first into concepts of the multiverse and the idea of pulling energy from other dimensions. Understanding this part of the sci-fi/fantasy world is integral into understanding Doctor Strange as a character, which is why it makes sense to package their introductions together in an origin story.
At the same time, as Jon Spaihts noted, there is definitely a certain rising danger in the repetition of origin stories, and one can only imagine what Doctor Strange would have looked like if not chained to a familiar structure (but I guess that's what sequels are for in this day and age). Leave your own thoughts on this matter in the comments section below, and stay tuned for more from my interview with the Marvel writer!