We know that Marvel has found a formulaic pattern to go with the releases of each of their films, but they seem to have stepped their game up with the introduction of the mystic arts into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Enter Doctor Strange.
Benedict Cumberbatch absolutely NAILS the role of Dr. Stephen Strange. I had always seen him as Tony Stark for the mystical side of Marvel’s vast universe, and that was pretty much confirmed with the way that Cumberbatch did his splendid American accent. The origin story for Doctor Strange was probably difficult to put into visual adaptation in less than two hours’ time, but I’m glad that #TeamMarvel did manage to do it. And they did it with finesse. In a world where the comic book universes continue to grow more and more, you’d expect these stories to become stale after a certain point in time. I’ve seen reviews where it begins, “In a world tired of comic book films…” Such is not the case when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because each and every wheel is in motion when it comes to forwarding the story arc, and doing it well. Tilda Swinton, although not Asian made a wonderfully adept Ancient One, much to my, and apparently everyone else’s surprise. She fit almost seamlessly into the role, and while I feel for minute amount of representation in the Asian community, I think she did wonderfully for the time that she was given. Chiwetel Ejiofor will be a man you’re going to see a lot in the future, as his role as Mordo (and previously acclaimed role as Solomon Northup in 12 Years A Slave) is cementing his depth as an actor. More success to that man, that’s my wish. Benedict Wong as Wong was stellar as well. You almost forget how important supporting characters can be in a story, and Wong was completely changed from the original comic book character, but the change was for the better, as the director wanted to lay waste to the stereotypical, tea carrying manservant that Wong was initially created to be. The most unexpected surprise was that Dormammu (who Benedict Cumberbatch played himself) actually made a full-on appearance, Galactus style, in the film. While he is a major entity, his appearance (visually) was not all that great. He looked like a giant cosmic smog (or a smoky Groot for some reason) and that just kinda detracted away from the despair that the character is supposed to cause. On a lighter note, it was great to see Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius, the Master of Mystic Arts that breaks away from the Ancient One. He may have been a minor character, but that man delivered in the best way to bring out Dormammu.
All in all, Doctor Strange did everything to the best of its ability, and it paid off for them in the end.
Also, did you see the cut scenes mid- and post-credits? If not, you really missed out on more ties to Infinity War (not going to spoil what they are, just in case). Is Doctor Strange worth watching? Hell yes. Would you potentially need an ibuprofen after all of the kaleidoscopic twists and turns through this episode in the MCCU? Depends on how often you experience vertigo, really, but the story? Great. The entire cast? Awesome. The tie-ins? Even freakin’ better. Just how will Doctor Strange fit into this bizarrely constructed universe? Stay tuned to find out.
Big ups to Smaug and the ability to shapeshift into any role he sees fit.