Doctor Strange is a 2016 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the 14th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was directed by Scott Derrickson from a screenplay he wrote with Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as surgeon Stephen Strange along with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, Mads Mikkelsen, and Tilda Swinton. Doctor Strange had its world premiere in Hong Kong on October 13, 2016, and was released in the United States on November 4, as part of Phase Three of the MCU. A sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, is scheduled for release on March 25, 2022.
Dr. Stephen Strange is an arrogant successful neurosurgeron with a huge inflated ego. One night he gets distracted while driving and suffers a catastrophic car crash in which his hands are crushed beyond repair. Despite surviving the crash, Stephen's broken hands effectively end his career as a surgeron. Strange spends his entire money in 7 surgeries to repair his hands, all of which fail. Broken and with barely any money left, Strange decides to look for an alternative cure to his hands.
Meanwhile at the Kamar-Taj Library, rebel sorcerer Kaecillius and his followers kill the librarian and steal a few pages from a book. The Ancient One attacks the rebels but they narrowly escape. One day during physical therapy Stange is told of a weird case, in which a man named Jonathan Pangborn was paralyzed from the waist down and it was impossible to cure him, but somehow he fully healed after a trip to Nepal. Strange investigates Pangborn, who tells him about Kamar-Taj.
Strange spends the last of his money on a one-way ticket to Nepal searching for Kamar-Taj. At Nepal he is mugged but thenis rescued by Karl Mordo, a student of Kamar-Taj. Mordo knew beforehand Strange was looking for Kamar-Taj and promises to take him there. At the building Strange meets their leader, The Ancient One. He is skeptical of the Ancient One's claims or mystical supernatural cures and believes she's a fraud. The Ancient One proves him wrong by extracting his soul from his body and sending him to the multiverse to prove Magic does exist. Strange immediately requests to be a student, the Ancient One rejects him and kicks him out but eventually agrees after Strange stays outside the door begging for 5 hours.
The next day The Ancient One explains Strange how magic works, how Pangborn uses magic to move his paralyzed body, and that she plans for Strange to do the same with his hands. Strange then goes to meet the librarian Wong. He becomes interested in reading the Book of Cagliostro but Wong warns him not to; Strange also notices some pages were missing. At first Strange struggles with his training but eventually he starts getting the hang of using Magic. Over the following months he quickly becomes a talented sorcerer, even the Ancient One was impressed by how fast his training has progressed and she lets him use the Mirror Dimension to practice.
One night Strange goes to the library only to find Wong isn't there. He takes the chance to read a few passages from the Book of Cagliostro, involving an amulet called "The Eye of Agamotto". He decides to test the amulet and realizes the Eye has time controlling powers after using it to rewind a half-eaten apple back and forth in time. Suddenly strange anomalies begin occurring, when Wong and Mordo notice this they warn Strange that manipulating Time-Space is extremely dangerous and he could accidentally get stuck in an endless Time Loop. Strange demands they explain exactly what the sorcerers are supposed to be doing.
Wong and Mordo reluctantly reveal what the sorcerers' real role is. Dormammu is a powerful inter-dimensional being that wants to consume Earth; the sorcerers have three sanctrums that keep Dormammu away which Kaecillius wants to destroy so Dormammu can reach Earth. At that moment Kaecillius attacks the sanctrum. After a brief fight Strange manages to overpower the Zealots with the help of the Cloak of Levitation and captures Kaecillius.
Kaecillius distracts Strange by talking about his plans and reveals that the Ancient One is borrowing power from Dormammu to stay young; a Zealot stabs Strange forcing him to teleport to his old hospital and ask his former girlfriend Christine Palmer to perform a surgery on him. He battles and inadvertently kills a Zealot in Astral mode while Christine heals his wound. Before leaving back to the Sanctrum, Strange apologizes to Christine for his past behavior and admits he was a selfish arrogant jerk and a terrible boyfriend.
Back at Kamar-Taj, tension raises as Kaecillius escapes and Strange calls out the Ancient One for borrowing Dormammu's power, which Mordo refuses to believe. Kaecillius attempts another attack on the sanctrum, Strange sends everyone to the Mirror Dimension hoping that would stop them, but this backfires as the Mirror Dimension makes them stronger. The zealots chase Mordo and Strange through the mirror dimension, The Ancient One rescues them but she is confirmed to use Dormammu's power and Kaecillius mortally wounds her.
Strange takes the Ancient One to the hospital but they're too late to save her life. Before dying, the Ancient One has a final talk with Strange in their astral forms. Motivated by the Ancient World's last words, Strange vows to stop the zealots. With two sanctrums gone Strange and Mordo go to Hong Kong only to find the Sanctrum is already gone and Wong is dead. Before Dormammu can arrive, Strange has an idea and uses the Eye of Agamotto to rewind time therefore undoing the sanctrum's destruction, also undoing Wong's death in the process.
Kaecillius attacks Strange which causes time to freeze before the sanctrum can be fully repaired. He brags that The Dark Dimension where Dormammu is a place out of time and he'll inevitably arrive regardless of Strange's efforts. Hearing this, Strange flies to the Dark Dimension, as he does he activates the Eye of Agamotto.
At the Dark Dimension, Strange tells Dormammu he wants to bargain, but Dormammu shrugs off and swiftly kills Strange. Suddenly Strange appears again and repeats himself, confusing Dormammu. Dormammu kills Strange again but he just reappears and explains that he's trapped himself and Dormammu in an endless time loop; every time Dormammu kills Strange the loop repeats, keeping him from reaching Earth. Strange keeps repeating the loop over and over and over until Dormammu gives up into accepting his bargain. He demands Dormammu to never come back and take Kaecillius with him, otherwise he'll never stop the loop. Dormammu reluctantly agrees and leaves, dragging the Zealots away with him. Despite having won the battle, The Ancient One is still dead and Mordo abandons the sorcerers disillusioned by their irresponsible abuse of dangerous magic.
A few months later, Strange is now the master of the New York sanctrum and decided to return the Eye of Agamotto feeling he isn't ready to wield it's power. Wong also reveals that the Eye of Agamotto is actually one of the six Infinity Stones. Strange then made a list of other-wordly threats against Earth, Loki being included. One day Strange receives a visit from Thor, who's been researching the Infinity Stones since the Ultron incident. Strange confronts Thor about bringing Loki to New York, to which Thor says they're looking for his father Odin. Strange offers to help the Asgardians on the condition that they immediately leave Earth as soon as the mission is completed, which Thor agrees to.
Why It Rocks
- Benedict Cumberbatch plays Doctor Strange near perfectly. He manages to make Strange come off as completely unlikable and selfish at the start of the movie then slowly make him more likeable and selfless at the end while also showing that he hasn't fully gotten over his ego.
- He also provides the voice of Dormammu and it's very haunting and intimidating.
- The MCU had repeatedly avoided using direct magic (even the Thor movies avoid it) in favor of more sci-fi semi-realistic explanations behind the heroes' powers, so Doctor Strange introduces magic in a way that doesn't feel too out place and explains why the other heroes haven't encountered magic up to this point.
- Awesome score from Michael Giacchino.
- Groundbreaking visuals, which at times look like if they were taken from Inception.
- A movie that is a outfight gorgeous in its visuals, mind-blowing special effects, and CGI that is the best any MCU movie has seen, with the Mirror Dimension being a highlight.
- What makes the final confrontation against Dormammu so unique and clever is that instead of using brute force against him, Doctor Strange uses pure ingenuity and brains to take him down without even laying a finger on him.
- Despite being another origin story, the movie throws several curve balls to feel different from other origin stories.
- Dormammu, I've come to bargain!
- The WiFi password scene, along with many others, is hilarious.
- It does set up Karl Mordo's turn to villainy and betrayal in the sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
- Thor makes a guest appearance in the post-credits scene, which would go on to become a proper scene in Thor: Ragnarok.
- Underwhelming antagonists in the form of Kaelicius and his minions.
- Karl Mordo was blackwashed.
- The choice to whitewash and gender swap the Ancient One was met with some controversy.
- Much like Ant-Man and Captain Marvel, the plot structure is rather formulaic despite adding its own "curve balls" mentioned above.
Doctor Strange was met with praise for its visuals, musical score, and cast. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports an 89% approval rating with an average score of 7.29/10, based on 372 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Doctor Strange artfully balances its outré source material against the blockbuster constraints of the MCU, delivering a thoroughly entertaining superhero origin story in the bargain.". On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 72 out of 100, based on reviews from 49 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it a 91% overall positive score and a 73% "definite recommend".