Having seen every movie produced by Marvel Studios since Iron Man, this reviewer can attest that the studio continues to follow a basic formula to avoid the cookie-cutter pitfall: "Do something different in each movie." Avoiding predictability, Marvel has made sure each of their movies provided a different type of comic book adaptation, while merging on occasion cross-over characters.
In the Iron Man 3 movie, for example, Tony Stark is barely Iron Man... he is Tony Stark embarking on a journey of self-discovery. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a reboot of the franchise without gruff army commanders, German Nazis, big band music and propaganda posters, while masquerading as a political thriller. For Doctor Strange, the studio opted to make a motion picture on a grand scale while at the same time remaining small in the grand scheme of things.
|Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange|
Benedict Cumberbatch is perfect in the role of Stephen Strange, a prominent surgeon with an ego bigger than his heart. His foolish pride proves to be his inevitable downfall and when life spirals out of control after an auto accident (a public service announcement reminding the audience not to text and drive), he resorts to spirituality. What he seeks in Nepal turns out to be a mind-blowing out-of-body experience (literally) and promptly begs for more. A trip through the cosmos opens his eyes to new worlds and only after his training has begun does he discover there are factors of evil salivating for that brief moment to conquer the Earth. A number of fanciful wizardry and CGI marvels unfold a number of times until Doctor Strange proves a way to void bloodshed and violence... and finds it in his heart to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save the lives of millions. It is here that the movie concludes not with a shoot 'em up battle consisting of an army of darkness like you would expect in a movie adapted from a series of comic books, but with a brilliant strategy that makes the craft of storytelling all the more enjoyable.
Oddly, Strange went to Nepal and not Tibet to learn his new talent... possibly one of the many cultural non-acceptance policies now in effect since China purchased much of Hollywood a couple years ago. One observation, which pleased me greatly, was Marvel's avoidance of incorporating scenes in the movie that set up stories for future sequels. In Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, Marvel insisted on having scenes of Thor seeking visions of things to come, setting up the stage for Thor 3, which were not essential to the continuity of the Ultron plot.
Unlike Suicide Squad and Batman vs. Superman, which proved to be major duds among critics and fans, Doctor Strange is great popcorn movie and if both Marvel and Disney keep up with this track record they will have a winning recipe for the faithful who line up to buy their tickets at the box office.