“””Is anybody actually excited for Doctor Strange?”” a friend asked the other day. “”Um, yeah, I am”” I responded. I continued by saying that A) Marvel always knocks it out of the park and B) just when they start getting too formulaic and simple, they bring out something really unique and just kill it. I cited Guardians and Ant-Man as examples. I basically got a “”touche”” in response.
I was thinking about the Marvel vs DC (filmwise at least) debate a bit more during the film, and the most important distinction I figured out was that Marvel is always trying to bring something new. If you look at everything in the MCU, the weakest films are the straight up sequels. But the new introductions of characters and the new concepts are so much stronger. I complain sometimes about the surfeit of origin stories, but when it comes to new to me characters, these have been stellar. Just think back to when the Avengers each first debuted. The mainstream (myself included) knew nothing about those guys individually, but now they are the greatest superpower in pop culture. As opposed to DC who keep showing us characters we already know, and rehashing their origins, and not really giving us any new information. C’mon DC, dig deep into your archives and give us something we haven’t seen before.
Back to Strange, yes, it was another superhero origin story. But this dude is different. He’s more of a spiritual fighter, tapping into the mystic, and studying his way to power. I found myself really identifying with him, and while I can’t entirely put my finger on why, I think it is that thirst for understanding. Early on when he first meets The Ancient One, who will become his teacher, she says to let go of trying to understand everything. I felt like she was speaking directly to me, because that’s often a downfall of my enjoying a film. I have to know how it all works and fits together. I made a point right then to stop trying to figure it out and just go with it, which made for a much more pleasant experience. I think it also just makes sense to me the idea that if you put in enough time and study, you can achieve greatness. That’s something my Daddy firmly instilled in me, and it was really cool seeing that idea turn out rather well for the doc. The other thing I liked is that while I’m not into the meditative aspect of it, some of the foundations of the Doctor’s mystic studies shared a lot with the foundations of yoga, which I’m obsessed with. So he gets bonus points for that.
From there, sure it’s a kind of formulaic Marvel origin movie. But just because it follows a formula doesn’t make it bad. Everything built around it, from the characters to the dialog to the effects were top notch, and that’s how you make a formula work. You use it as your base to start from and not as your driving force. Take note, DC.
Yeah so the doc might not replace Cap as my favorite person in the MCU, but he’s at least in the running now. I just love how different he was without straying too far from home. At least for me, different is how you win me over.
Doctor Strange – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”