Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Doctor Strange. Don't read any further if you haven't seen the Sorcerer Supreme's solo adventure yet!
With Marvel's Phase 3 slate of films officially underway, we cannot begin to stress the importance of Doctor Strange's success for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only has Benedict Cumberbatch's Sorcerer Supreme successfully introduced magic into this previously scientific world, but the film also proved that Marvel could definitely continue to bring us new heroes through origin stories. I recently had the chance to ask Cumberbatch why he thinks Doctor Strange resonated with audiences, and he explained that it's a combination of Marvel's willingness to approach a familiar story from a new direction, as well as an inversion of typical superhero tropes. Cumberbatch said:
I think a number of reasons. I think it's visually something that's a new experience. He's an interesting character and it's a nice retelling of an origin. A nice look at certain inversions of conventions like the finale dust up being a kind of renovation job rather than a destruction job. The ultimate bad guy defeat in it being through an idea rather than some kind of gloves off showdown. And then the usual kind of key ingredients of Marvel's success I think which is to take these things that they have a great reverence for but also use a sense of humor and not be too kind of holy about and dare to do different things with the format.
We have seen stories like Doctor Strange told in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before, but the film takes the formula in enough new directions to make it all feel fresh and exciting. While the movie clearly tells a familiar enough hero's journey arc, it ultimately bucks superhero movie traditions by making the resolution of the story a far more cerebral scene than a pure CGI-based action moment. Stephen Strange's use of the Time Stone to undo the destruction caused by Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) is an insanely meta sequence, and his willingness to literally annoy Dormammu into submission with an endless time loop is a beautiful inversion of a typical superhero showdown. It's a story that we're familiar with, but it's an entirely different take on a well-worn narrative.
To call Doctor Strange a success is nothing less than an understatement. The Stephen Strange origin story managed to garner a phenomenal $673 million box office gross, and the film is currently sitting pretty with a 90% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. With such commercial and critical success, we can pretty much guarantee that this will go on to become one of Marvel's most prominent solo franchises for years to come.
For a longer look at our conversation with Benedict Cumberbatch on Doctor Strange, see the clip below.
We will bring you more information related to the future of Stephen Strange in the Marve Cinematic Universe as new details become available to us. The Doctor Strange Blu-ray will hit shelves on February 28.