Doctor Strange starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetal Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelson

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Movie: Doctor Strange

Production Company: Marvel Studios

Director: Scott Derrickson

Producer: Kevin Feige

Scriptwriters: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C.Robert Cargill

Main Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetal Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelson

Release Date: November 4th 2016 (US)

Running Time: 115 minutes

Certificate: 12A


Well this is perfectly timed isn’t it? With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness now in cinemas, what better time is there to review the first Doctor Strange? A perfectly fine Marvel film, which helped launch Benedict Cumberbatch’s charismatic, arrogant Doctor Strange. So, without further ado let’s get into the review of the film.


The film opens in Kathmandu where rogue sorcerer Kaecilius (Mikkelson) and his zealots enter the Kamar-Taj compound. Why? To steal a few pages from one of the Ancient One’s (Swinton) books. While The Ancient One pursues him, Kaecilius and his followers escape.

Stephen Strange’s accident

Meanwhile, in New York City, Doctor Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) , a wealthy, well paid and arrogant neurosurgeon, severely injures his hands in a car crash. This leaves him permanently unable to operate again. Despite fellow surgeon and love interest Christine Palmer (McAdams) trying to help him move on, Strange refuses to accept there isn’t a way he can operate again.

Strange learns of Kamar-Taj

To this end, he learns about Jonathan Pangborn, a paraplegic who mysteriously regained the use of his legs. Pangborn directs Strange to Kamar-Taj, where he gets taken in by Mordo (Ejiofor) a sorcerer who works under the Ancient One. The Ancient One then demonstrates her power to Strange, which reveals the astral plane and mirror dimension. Reluctantly, she agrees to train Strange whose arrogance and ambition remind her of Kaecilius. Stop me if you’ve seen that plot point before…..

Strange finds out about the Eye of Agamotto

Strange studies under the Ancient One and from the books in the library, guarded by Wong (Wong). He learns that the Earth is protected by three Sanctums to prevent inter-dimensional attacks. While Strange begins progressing very quickly, he soon starts reading from the same book that Kaecilius stole pages from. This leads him to bend time with the Eye of Agamotto (Otherwise known as the Time Stone) Wong and Mordo both warn him of the consequences of breaking time and the laws of nature.

Kaecilius’s attacks begin

Kaecilius then uses the stolen pages to summon Dormammu, a being from the Dark Dimension where time is non-existent. To accomplish this, Kaecilius destroys the London Sanctum, and attempts to do the same to the New York Sanctum. He would have succeeded had Strange not have intervened with the Cloak of Levitation and stopped him. However, Kaecilius does injure Strange who teleports himself to Palmer who saves him.

Strange confronts Dormammu

When he returns to the Sanctum he tells Mordo that the Ancient One has been drawing power from the Dark Dimension to sustain her long life. This leads Mordo to become disillusioned with the Ancient One. After battling in the Mirror Dimension, Kaecilius mortally wounds the Ancient One and flees for the Hong Kong Sanctum. After arriving at the Hong Kong Sanctum, Mordo and Strange find it decimated, Wong dead and the Dark Dimension covering the city. Despite Mordo’s protestations, Strange uses the Eye of Agamotto to reverse time and save Wong. He then locks himself in a time loop with Dormammu until Dormammu agrees to leave Earth for good and to take Kaecilius with him.

Ending and Mid/Post Credits Scenes

Disillusioned by both Strange and the Ancient One’s breaking of the laws of nature, Mordo renounces his sorcerer career. Strange returns the Eye of Agamotto to Kamar-Taj before continuing his training with Wong in New York. The mid credits scene sees Thor and Loki seeking Doctor Strange’s help to find their father: Odin. The post credits scene sees Mordo killing Jonathan Pangborn and stealing his magic because ‘there are too many sorcerers in the world’…… 


The Depiction of Magic in Doctor Strange

To start my Doctor Strange analysis, I’m going to discuss the magic shown in the film and how the visual effects aid the depiction of magic. First and foremost, there’s the sling rings. Basically imagine them like Sonic’s rings (I’ve got old school gaming references) as they both open portals to other dimensions and places for the wearer to go to. So, how do the visual effects aid the depiction of the use of sling rings? Well it clearly helps the audience understand how sling rings work without having to commit as much time to the characters telling each other how sling rings work.

So what are some examples? Take Strange sling ringing a portal to steal forbidden books from the library behind Wong’s back. One this is a funny moment because of Wong listening to Single Ladies…. And the second part is that we clearly know how a sling ring can work all without a character stating the obvious. Other examples include Mordo and Strange sling ringing to a ruined Hong Kong or Strange slinging ringing Loki into an endless loop.

The similarities between Doctor Strange and Iron Man

Continuing my analysis of Doctor Strange, I’m going to discuss how the film compares with a certain other MCU film: Iron Man. Now while these films couldn’t be further apart on paper, there are a lot more similarities when you start digging. What are these similarities? Well, both Stark and Strange start as arrogant, over confident (and slightly narcissistic) playboys during their respective film’s openings. So what becomes of both Strange and Stark by the end of their films?

Well both have become wise cracking heroes with a fair amount of ego still there but a willingness to work with others having been developed. But the real question is why am I bringing this connection up? Well it shows how much of an impact the first Iron Man is still having on the MCU as the template for many of Marvel’s first male solo films. Indeed you could make the very simplified argument that Doctor Strange is just Iron Man but with magic involved. But that’s an argument for another day.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance

To conclude my Doctor Strange analysis, I’m going to discuss the performance of Benedict Cumberbatch and how it evolves during the film. Now as I mentioned above at the beginning Strange is an arrogant, overconfident playboy who isolates himself away from help because he believes he is better than others. Again stop me if that sounds familiar…. This is mostly due to Cumberbatch’s performance as he really makes the audience want Strange to be brought down a couple of pegs. This is where Strange’s training at Kamar-Taj comes in. Whilst Cumberbatch keeps some of the arrogant playboy ideals in his performance as well as introducing some slightly humbler traits.

So how do these humbler traits evolve by the end of the film? Well, they become a much greater part and there is no better example of this Strange trapping himself in a time loop with Dormammu to save the Earth? This demonstrates Strange’s new found willingness to do whatever it takes to protect the Earth and those he loves. Also that sequence is just Benedict Cumberbatch talking to himself for about 10 minutes. The more that you already knew….


To summarise Doctor Strange, this is a perfectly fine Marvel with which does a decent job at introducing magic into the MCU as well as some good performances, especially from Cumberbatch and Wong. Man, Wong really is the best…..

Overall Rating: 7/10 – Respectable

Target Audience: 12+

Content Warning: Moderate Violence and Gore, Mild Profanity, Moderate Frightening and Intense Scenes

Recommendation: Yes