Doctor Strange Review | The Hollywood Redux Podcast | Episode 332
Enter the Ditko/Kirby magic chapter of MCU! The Writers’ Room gang kicks off November with a review of Cumberbatch/Swinton Marvel adventure Dr. Strange.
Dr. Stephen Strange (played by the endlessly watchable Benedict Cumberbatch) goes from egotistical genius surgeon to the victim of a horrific car accident which robs him of the use of his hands. In a last ditch effort, he pursues healing at a mysterious enclave that turns out to be at the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying reality. Strange trains with the appropriately Swinton-y character The Ancient One and becomes the most powerful sorcerer in the world and beats back all the multi-verse darkness.
While that sounds perhaps the slightest bit trite after half a dozen Marvel origin stories that go more or less along those story lines, Dr. Strange benefits from the cast and a dollop of Ditko/Kirby. Check out our full review below:
In Kathmandu, Nepal, the sorcerer Kaecilius and his zealots enter the secret compound Kamar-Taj and behead its librarian. They steal a ritual from an ancient and mystical text belonging to the Ancient One, a long-lived sorcerer who has taught every student at Kamar-Taj, including Kaecilius, in the mystic arts. The Ancient One pursues the traitors, but Kaecilius and his followers escape.
In New York City, Stephen Strange, an acclaimed but arrogant neurosurgeon, loses the use of his hands in a car accident. Fellow surgeon and former lover Christine Palmer tries to help him move on, but Strange vainly pursues experimental surgeries. Strange eventually seeks out Jonathan Pangborn, a paraplegic who mysteriously regained the use of his legs. Pangborn directs Strange to Kamar-Taj, where he is taken in by Mordo, a sorcerer under the Ancient One. The Ancient One demonstrates her power to Strange, revealing the astral plane and other dimensions such as the Mirror Dimension. She agrees to train Strange, despite his arrogance, which reminds her of Kaecilius.
Strange studies under the Ancient One and Mordo, and from ancient books in the library that is now presided over by the master Wong. Strange learns that Earth is protected from other dimensions by a spell formed from three buildings called Sanctums, found in New York City, London, and Hong Kong, which are all connected and accessible from Kamar-Taj. The sorcerers’ task is to protect the Sanctums, though Pangborn had forgone this responsibility to instead channel mystical energy into walking again. Strange progresses quickly, and he secretly reads the text from which Kaecilius stole pages, learning to bend time with the mystical Eye of Agamotto. Mordo and Wong warn Strange against breaking the laws of nature, drawing a comparison to Kaecilius’ desire for eternal life.
Kaecilius uses the stolen pages to summon the powerful Dormammu of the Dark Dimension, where time is non-existent. Kaecilius destroys the London Sanctum to weaken Earth’s protection, and sends Strange from Kamar-Taj to the New York Sanctum. The zealots begin to attack the New York Sanctum, but Strange holds them off with the mystical Cloak of Levitation until Mordo and the Ancient One arrive. Strange and Mordo become disillusioned with the Ancient One after Kaecilius reveals that her long life is drawn from Dormammu’s power. Kaecilius mortally wounds the Ancient One and escapes to Hong Kong. Before dying, the Ancient One tells Strange that he, too, will have to break rules to balance Mordo’s steadfast nature. Strange and Mordo arrive in Hong Kong to find Wong dead, the Sanctum destroyed, and the Dark Dimension already engulfing Earth. Strange uses the Eye to reverse time and save Wong, then creates an infinite time loop inside the Dark Dimension that traps himself and Dormammu in the same moment forever. After repeatedly killing Strange to no avail, Dormammu finally agrees to leave Earth and take Kaecilius and his zealots with him if Strange undoes the time loop.
Disgusted by Strange and the Ancient One defying nature’s laws, Mordo departs. Strange returns the Eye, which Wong calls an Infinity Stone, to Kamar-Taj, and takes up residence in the New York Sanctum to continue his studies. In a mid-credits scene, Strange decides to help Thor, who has brought his brother Loki to Earth to search for their father Odin. In a post-credits scene, Mordo confronts Pangborn and takes away the energy he uses to walk, stating that Earth has “too many sorcerers”.
Listen to the audio podcast below: