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Marvel’s Doctor Strange is a truly magical experience

JADE LEVY, Staff Writer

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Everyone knows and loves the classic Marvel superhero films which by now have become ingrained in childhood memories. These movies have taken fans through countless genetic mutations, transforming serums, super advanced technologies, celestial planetoids, and so much more.
The latest Marvel film Doctor Strange first hit theaters on November 4. The film is the first introduction of sorcery to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and offers the audience an all-new magical experience.
Perfectly portrayed by actor Benedict Cumberbatch, Dr. Strange, a well accomplished neurosurgeon with a flash of charm and arrogance, is the protagonist of the film. His egotistical disposition, however, proves to be his greatest weakness.
After a devastating car accident, he suffers severe nerve damage in his hands, thus ending his career and leaving him with an unbearable feeling of helplessness. This overwhelming emotion of feebleness clashes greatly with his lavish sense of pride.
After tirelessly searching for a way to fully reverse the nerve damage in his hands, he discovers a miraculously healed ex-paraplegic who leads him to the palace of the Ancient One, portrayed by Tilda Swinton, in Nepal. However, the great sorcerer deems him unworthy after showing him the unimaginable: mysterious mystical realms beyond this universe. Being desperate, Strange finally convinces her to take him in as a disciple and teach him how to harness such powers.
The Marvel film contains the usual mix of exciting action and witty humor, but there is another reason the film has had such success with audiences. Doctor Strange has extraordinary visuals, including a kaleidoscopic effect that is unique in comparison to other Marvel movies.
In the scene where renegade villain Kaecilius, played by Mads Mikkelson, is introduced, a mesmerizing fight scene takes place. Buildings rotate, curve, and fold into themselves, making the audience lose their sense of direction and marvel in wonder. As seen in the commercials, these visuals were likely what drew people to the theaters in the first place.
The way in which Strange receives his powers is also what sets this movie apart from other Marvel films. Many other superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe received their powers through some type of experimental accident. Strange, however, trains diligently to gain his powers. Also, his powers are derived from magic, not attained by any scientific means like Thor or Superman’s.
Another interesting aspect of the film is the transformation of Dr. Strange himself. In the beginning of the movie, he is an egocentric man who has not accepted the concept that there could be anything beyond this universe. Throughout the movie, in order to gain the mystical power he so desperately desires, Strange is forced to humble himself and broaden his horizons. By the end of the movie, having realized at last that the world does not revolve around him and that he is not all-knowing, Strange becomes a more selfless and open minded man who fights for the greater good.
Despite all the positives, there are still a few issues with this film. One large controversy revolves around the casting of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. There have been accusations of whitewashing since the Ancient One was originally a Tibetan man. Although there has been positive feedback on the casting of a woman for the role, some are critical of the fact that a white person was cast for a character that was initially Asian.
Director Scott Derrickson has spoken on the subject, explaining that the decision to cast a white actress for the role was ultimately made because they did not want to recreate the offensive Asian stereotype that existed in the original 1960s comic. Derrickson expresses, “We weren’t going to have the Ancient One as the Fu Manchu magical Asian on the hill being the mentor to the white hero. I knew that we had a long way to go to get away from that stereotype and cliché.”
He also reveals that he altered the character of Wong, who was initially a manservant in the comic and is portrayed by Benedict Wong in the film. He explains, “Instead of a manservant, he’s a librarian. Instead of a sidekick, he’s Strange’s intellectual mentor. He’s a master of the mystic arts. He’s a very different kind of presence, and I felt like that was required.”
Benedict Wong was in agreement with these changes as well. He notes, “Looking back on the source material from the ‘60s, there were certain aspects to the Wong character that — I’m so pleased we left them back in the ‘60s, you know? We’re creating the Wong of our times.”
Despite the whitewashing, Doctor Strange is a must see film that differs from any other Marvel movie. Cast with actors and actresses who are adept at bringing their characters to life and filled with remarkable visuals, Doctor Strange is a movie tha
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t shouldn’t be missed.

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Marvel’s Doctor Strange is a truly magical experience