Ten days ago, Marvel released its latest flick in the US, and Doctor Strange surprised everybody by earning more than $100 million in its first weekend. It’s projected to be the biggest non-Iron Man solo flick of the entire shared universe (after one week or so, it’s already made $500 million worldwide). And that’s mainly because of the amazing special effects, which did justice to the imagery in the comics.
But do these big numbers mean that Doctor Strange is also one of the best films of the MCU? Can it compete with, say, Captain America: The Winter Soldier or with the first Guardians of the Galaxy? Not really. And that’s because it followed the predictable Marvel formula more than ever, and because its plot left some of us wanting more.
Was it entertaining? Of course it was. Nonetheless, here are the movie’s biggest no-no moments, moments which, if corrected, wouldn't have left me dissatisfied.
Iron Man reboot
Even the first reviews (which were, obviously, positive) said that Doctor Strange feels a bit too much like Iron Man. There is the arrogant main character who, in a twist of fate, discovers the error of his ways and becomes a hero greater than anybody else. He also discovers love, and with a woman he didn't care for before.
He has quite a few witty quips ready for any kind of situation, he manages to defeat more powerful villains rather easily, and by the end of it all he accepts that he is the only hero who can save the Earth. He even has the same look as Tony Stark.
I get it - Stephen Strange is set to become the leader of the MCU, after Robert Downey, Jr. departs. However, maybe Marvel should have gone in a different direction. Maybe Doctor Strange should have gone a different route, one that wouldn't have turned its main character into a Tony Stark replica.
The Ancient One
I have no problem with Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. And that even if people shouted whitewashing, and even if it was a move made purely for financial reasons (China has become, in recent years, one of the main markets for Hollywood blockbusters).
The problem is that this character, who seems to be feared and respected by even Dormammu, didn't concern herself with Kaecilius. She obviously has the power, and she has no problem with bending the rules (the whole natural order of things that turns Mordo into a villain). So why didn't she use the Eye of Agamotto to turn back time and stop Kaecilius from stealing those pages?
Better yet, how was she killed so easily, even though she already proved that she could take on the villain and his minions with ease?
Come to think of it, Tilda Swinton didn't have too much to work with in this movie. Which is a shame - given the controversy surrounding this casting choice. But I guess this is a problem for the entire MCU, with most of the time dedicated to developing main characters and almost no time at all for the villain and secondary characters.
As said, the Ancient One is extremely powerful, which explains why Kaecilius and his minions didn't stand a chance in the fight from the beginning of the movie. So, no matter how powerful they were, the Ancient One would have defeated them.
However, how did Doctor Strange defeat them in his first fight? Was Kaecilius followed by the most useless minions? I know he wasn't, because they helped him defeat the Masters of the Sanctums"¦Why did they become stranded, as if they had no means of teleporting back into the Sanctum Sanctorum? It isn't as if their special rings ran out of power"¦
And how did Stephen Strange defeat Lucian in the astral plane using electricity?!? Don't tell me I’m the only one baffled by that scene. I guess they wanted to give Scott Adkins a bigger role, but they didn't know how to have him lose against Benedict Cumberbatch"¦
Worst. Guard. Ever.
We don't know how good the first librarian of Kamar-Taj was, since he was too easily killed by Kaecilius and his minions. However, I do know that he was better than Wong. How come? Well, there is that scene in which Doctor Strange manages to borrow ancient texts right out from under Wong's nose. And Strange was still a beginner, even if quite an apt one.
Can I imagine that the Ancient One found no one better than Wong? Even a camera would have been better. Can I accept the fact that there were no countermeasures installed to prevent teleporting into the library, especially after Kaecilius managed to steal some very dangerous texts? Well, the movie tells me to accept that - but I won't.
Wong is literally a mumbling idiot, a master who can be fooled by an apprentice, a guard who might as well be blind.
There is no Loki in Doctor Strange. But there is something interesting about the way his character is described in the movie.
First, we find out that the Ancient One didn't intervene in the Battle of New York because that was just a physical threat. And it makes sense, given the fact that Loki came with an actual alien army, ready to rule the Earth. However, in the credits scene, when Strange meets Thor, we find out that Loki is on Strange's watch list - so he isn't just a physical threat.
Make what you want out of this: Is Loki a physical or a meta-physical threat? Even more - is his magic of the same kind as Strange's, or is it something else?
Should I ask why the Ancient One didn't intervene when the Tesseract, an Infinity Stone, was used in the battle of New York? It’s made clear in Doctor Strange that the Infinity Stones are something one shouldn't play with"¦
Magic - it's nonsense, according to Strange
Stephen Strange lives in a world filled with superheroes. There is Thor, an actual demigod using a magical hammer. There is Hulk, who is basically a man who has survived after being exposed to lethal amounts of gamma radiation. There is also Scarlet Witch (who in the world knows how she works) and Vision who, by all accounts, is a living Infinity Stone - an actual god, for that matter.
So why doesn't Steve Strange believe what the Ancient One is telling him about magic? Why does he consider it to be nonsense, even after talking with someone using magic to heal himself (Jonathan Pangborn)? In a world where aliens have tried to take over the world, is it that hard to believe in chakras and other, similar concepts?
Is it because we, the audience, are supposed to share his skepticism? Is it because we’re supposed to think of Strange as an even bigger a-hole? I don't know. In any event, it didn't work too well.
Of course, beyond the obvious connections (such as the Thor cameo), there are also the Easter-Eggs some may have been missed. Such as the one in which Stephen Strange dismisses the opportunity of helping Jim Rhodes (shot down by Vision in Civil War). But this isn't the most interesting connection.
Instead, it may be the hint that Captain Marvel's origin story will be changed. Thus, as he is talking on the phone in the speeding car, we find out that a woman in her twenties was struck by lightning - even more, she has an implant to keep her schizophrenia in check.
Of course, nobody confirmed this. However, this rumor has spread over the web like wildfire, especially since director Scott Derrickson didn't want to debunk it, saying that he won't tell.
We already know that Captain Marvel will be an origin story. But this is a bit too much, to have the future stars of the MCU connected in this way (basically, Carol Danvers can be said to have a very important part in the becoming of Doctor Strange).
In the beginning, it’s pretty clear that Rachel McAdams' Christine Palmer has a thing for Stephen Strange. However, he is very cold and very clear when he dismisses her - even as she’s trying to help him cope with his new condition. He shouts at her and belittles her and makes her leave.
So it’s pretty weird to have her help him in the end, especially since he’s physically changed so much. As far as she’s concerned, he’s still the same a-hole - the only difference is that he has a new style and sports a Tony Stark beard.
Why does he jump at his first call?
Palmer does much more in this film than the female characters in other MCU flicks. But it’s too strange to see her accepting Stephen Strange once again, after he dismissed her the way he did.
Am I the only one who believes that Mordo and Kaecilius are basically the same? I guess not.
In the beginning, when Kaecilius calls the Ancient One a hypocrite, it isn't clear why he feels that way. Later on, it’s revealed that, according to Kaecilius, the Ancient One bends the rules, or breaks them completely, in order to prolong her life, and just that.
Mordo, when finding this out, reacts similarly - he knows that the Dark Dimension is a threat, but he still believes that the rules need to be respected, and accuses the Ancient One and Strange, just like Kaecilius, of hypocrisy. If the character's arc will be in any way like in the comics, Mordo will also ally himself with Dormammu. Therefore"¦
But how can Mordo be so rigid when it comes to following the rules, especially since he knows that the rules need to be broken at times? He does that himself in the end, when he becomes the villain - speaking of which, did he steal the magic from Pangborn? Is that even possible?!?
Anticlimactic boss fight
So we already knew that Dormammu would make an appearance in Doctor Strange. However, as far as I’m concerned, I didn't expect a fight between the supervillain and the hero, let alone a fight as anticlimactic as this one.
Basically, Dormammu is depicted like a villain who has no patience - which is extremely weird, since he lives in a dimension where time doesn't exist. We are led to understand that he kills Strange thousands of times. However, Strange is still a human. So who would have lost in the end? The immortal being or the human?
In a way, the resolution was as fun and as imaginative as the one in Guardians of the Galaxy. On the other hand, since there was a fight between Dormammu and Strange, maybe it should have been something more than just the Sorcerer Supreme being killed time and time again, in a boring way, until the villain lost his calm.
What do you think? What other details distracted you from the movie?