Doctor Strange’s Aches and Pains

Earlier this month I wrote about
being hopeful
for the purposeful fringe
in Doctor Strange. I saw the movie this past
weekend and walked away feeling…strange. 

As I took notes the day after to
register if my response was positive, negative, or genuine indifference, I realized
there are two ways to look at this movie. We can consider it by itself or we
can look at it in the scope of the Marvel cinematic universe. The choice
will guide your feelings.


I prefer to look at Doctor Strange by itself and what it
could have added to the overall MCU. For a movie that sent a stereotypical,
know-it-all American to Nepal there was a tremendous lack of curiosity. I know
Stephen Strange is brilliant. I get that. But he demonstrated almost no
struggle with the mind-bending world that opened up in front of him. Suddenly, shifting buildings and portals to anywhere and weapons
summoned from energy were all equal to jiggling the lock on the front door just right. He appeared to accept everything simply because his pain came from the place he left, but acceptance is so much more than that.

The idea of surrendering to what
you’re fighting in order to win was touched only tangentially. I wanted the
western world to be challenged more; I wanted Strange to find nuance in what used
to be black and white to him. I wanted his mind to be blown and for him to put
it back together piece by piece. I wanted this knowledge to be the base of something important
– even if terrifically small – for the title fight that will be Avengers: Infinity War. But instead we got
a dog fight between Doctor Strange and cookie-cutter evil.



The reason is simple, even if Marvel did their best to make it a lowly uttered aside. They needed to introduce
another infinity stone for the previously mentioned Infinity War. We know there are six. The first four have already
been weaved into the grand MCU story: the Space stone, which is in the vaults
at Asgard; the Mind stone, which is in Vision’s forehead; the Reality stone, which
was given to the Collector; and the Power stone, which is under the protection
of Nova Corps. All that are left are the Time stone and Soul stone.

Now, remember that part in the
movie where Strange realizes he can reverse time? You know, all because he can
control the Eye of Agamotto necklace? There’s our fifth stone. And there’s our
conceit for the entire existence of Stephen Strange in the Marvel Cinematic
Universe. Last week I talked about the difference between characters being prescribed for
the aches of a story and being pieces of cloth sewn together to create
a whole world. When it comes to Doctor
the title character is just medication for the pain of telling a
larger tale.

That said, if you’re only
in this long-ass journey with Marvel movies to see how they build to Infinity War, then Doctor Strange is a blast. For me, seeing him as a matter of
convenience instead of one of substance was unpleasant.

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