Movies based on the Marvel Comics universe have not always been good. Starting with the 1944 version of Captain America, various studios have attempted to bring Marvel Comics into live action. My first run-in with Marvel’s films was Blade in 1998. When I got to Daredevil, Hulk, and 2005’s Elektra, I became the guy who would argue how terrible Marvels movies were—outside of my beloved X-Men, of course. 40-plus movies later and we are now witnessing a winning streak of great cinema with films like The Avengers, Captain America and the latest release, Doctor Strange.
Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the film, made his first Marvel Comics appearance in July of 1963 as a world-class neurosurgeon who becomes the “Sorcerer Supreme” of planet Earth – the title held by the dimension’s greatest magic practitioner. As the Sorcerer Supreme, he now is one of the universe’s most important figures, continuing the classic good vs. evil story by defending earth from outside mystical invaders.
His journey into a world beyond ours challenges his wealthy and ego-driven lifestyle. Strange’s scientific, Western worldview is shattered when he experiences a car accident that damages the then most important part of his existence: his hands. As Strange searches for a cure, he stumbles upon the Ancient One (played by Tilda Swinton), one of the previous Sorcerer Supremes. She opens his mind to a world that contradicts everything he’s learned via natural medicine, surgical feats and intelligence. By the end of the movie he is a believer in everything spiritual – he’s mastered a levitation cloak, controls time and more.
Marvel Studios, who has produced the best films about the Marvel Comics universe in my opinion, brought Strange’s persona and comic book storyline to the big screen pretty accurately. Outside of the Ancient One not being played by someone of Asian descent, the movie was great. It was funny, imaginative and had similar world-bending kaleidoscope-like effects that were seen previously in movies like Inception. The martial arts and sorcerer magic fighting scenes are perfectly matched with witty dialogue and Strange’s facial expressions of confusion and surprise. Cumberbatch, who has hit roles in movies like Hawking, Van Gogh: Painted with Word and 12 Years a Slave, continues his own hot-streak with this starring role in a much anticipated Marvel story.
For fans of Marvel’s upcoming Thor and The Avengers movie, this falls perfectly in line with what’s to come next involving Thanos and the Infinity Stones. Marvel creator Stan Lee makes his appearance in the movie as usual and brings out one of the best superhero origin stories we have seen on the big screen. If you haven’t seen it, catch it in theaters all throughout the metro. Also, Cinemark Palace at the Plaza has matinee tickets for $4.50.