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Nolan Garcia
Nolan Garcia

[Movie] Doctor Strange

Cumberbatch has played Doctor Steven Strange in six movies between 2016 and 2022, ranging from starring roles to brief but fun cameos. Cumberbatch has had a solid run, delivering a memorable performance in each film he appeared in. Which of these movies with the Master of the Mystic Arts is the best?

[Movie] Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange made for a solid introduction to the character. At first, he seemed like a bit of a Tony Stark clone, but there were depths and differences that ensured he became his character as time went on. Plus, there's also the fact that Tony Stark's movies deal with slightly more grounded science-fiction elements, whereas here in the first Doctor Strange movie, and going forward, fantasy elements were abundant, and magic officially solidified itself as a force within the MCU.

Some may not like seeing such a popular MCU movie be declared the second-worst film to feature Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange, but every movie here falls between good and excellent. And Spider-Man: No Way Home is indeed very good and features Doctor Strange himself in a supporting role that's pivotal for kicking off the film's fun, chaotic plot.

The Raimi factor does give it a bit of a bump over the still good original. Seeing Evil Dead references and some of the frantic camerawork and editing Raimi's beloved for in an MCU movie is thrilling. Plus, it's the most violent and scary an MCU movie has gotten yet, especially in the film's second half, where Raimi's sensibilities really get unleashed. It's not a perfectly balanced film, but there's so much to like, and little downtime. It's one of the better entries in Phase 4 so far, for sure.

Doctor Strange makes a brief but memorable appearance in Thor: Ragnarok, the third movie in the hammer-wielding Norse god's series. A year after the first Doctor Strange movie, his second appearance helps establish Strange as a character who can cross over and work with other established characters in the MCU.

Doctor Strange was part of that force, and his appearance in the film's climax meant his involvement in the movie was a small one. Even amongst the fighting, he's mostly relegated to stopping a lake from flooding and drowning most of the Avengers' army. But he does get to remind Tony Stark that there was only one way the Avengers could win, which helps spur Stark's sacrifice. This takes out Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his forces but costs Tony his life. It's another pivotal moment that Doctor Strange was a part of, and not for nothing; he had a hand in ending the most significant conflict of the MCU so far, as well as setting up perhaps its most devastating emotional moment, with Tony Stark's death after 11 years of movies.

Avengers: Infinity War stands as the best MCU movie to date, and given Strange's supporting role in it, that also means it's the best MCU movie Strange himself appears in. Thanos makes good on years of threats and suggestions of universe domination by relentlessly pursuing all the stones in the infinity gauntlet, as the Avengers and various other heroes find themselves less and less capable of defeating him in a series of increasingly one-sided skirmishes.

Jeremy is an omnivore when it comes to movies. He'll gladly watch and write about almost anything, from old Godzilla films to gangster flicks to samurai movies to classic musicals to the French New Wave to the MCU. When he's not writing lists for Collider, he also likes to upload film reviews to his Letterboxd profile (username: Jeremy Urquhart) and Instagram account.

Immediately following the successful surgery, Palmer questioned if Strange really needed to humiliate West in front of all of the other doctors, although Strange confidently noted that he did not have to save West's own patient either, but sometimes he just could not help himself. When Palmer continued to defend West and called him a great doctor, Strange asked Palmer if she and West were sleeping together, claiming that the mere concept disgusted him. Palmer then denied the accusation, stating it was against the "Strange Policy," a policy against dating coworkers, which she named after him, which still pleased Strange to have something named after him.

One day while in his Apartment, Strange was on a video call with a doctor who stated that he cannot help him and turned him down, angering him to where he threw his tablet across the room. While Strange was still fuming, Christine Palmer came to his apartment trying to convince him to stop wasting all his money on his hands, as well as telling him to move on by assuring him that there were other ways to save lives and live his own to the fullest with her help.

The next morning, Strange sat down with the Ancient One who began to explain how the Masters of the Mystic Arts drew their power from other dimensions within the Multiverse, which allowed them to shape reality, explaining how Jonathan Pangborn used his magic to move his body, and that she planned for Strange to learn how to do the same with his hands. When Strange asked how he could gain these new skills with his damaged hands, the Ancient One compared it to Strange's studies to become a world-renowned doctor.

Strange woke up in a cell with America Chavez in a separate one. Strange tried to get information on what was going on and saw that the doctor he was talking to was Christine Palmer. She greeted him and explained that she volunteered to work with the "Illuminati" at Strange's funeral. Strange thanked her for coming. She then explained how this universe was Earth-838 and his was Earth-616. Strange was then taken to a trial by the Illuminati.

Strange has shown extreme determination and stubbornness, a useful trait in a doctor as he would never give up on his patients, even when one was called dead with a bullet in his brain. Also, Strange was able to determine the patient was still alive to successfully save him. He spent most of his remaining money in seven different surgeries to attempt to heal his hands to the point of near bankruptcy, remained outside of Kamar-Taj's front door for five hours after being initially thrown out, then spent most of his time at Kamar-Taj studying and improving his abilities, even going as far as studying while sleeping through astral projection. He even allowed himself to be violently killed by countless times by Dormammu until he gave in to his demands and later giving up the Time Stone to Thanos in exchange for saving Tony Stark's life when he was about to be killed by the Mad Titan, even though wanted to save the Time Stone first. Despite his determined and stubborn attitude, Strange has shown to be the voices of reason to those around him.

Having trained as a doctor, Strange is a pacifist as he tries to avoid in killing and physically harming people, as it goes against the Hippocratic oath. He was disgusted by his actions in killing Lucian Aster, stating he became a doctor to save lives, not take them. However, neither the Ancient One nor Karl Mordo was especially sympathetic towards this, with the former stating it was his towering ego and delusion that he could control death itself that made him become a doctor and the latter simply calling him a coward for not having the spine to do what has to be done. Nevertheless, Strange claimed that there were other ways to defeat their enemies, a claim he ultimately proved correct by defeating Dormammu without killing him. However, overtime, Strange has come to terms that he would have to forsaken his pacifist in killing and physically harming people in order to do what's right, but it mostly shows that he did grow a spine in order to do what needed to be done. Strange even goes to the point of not caring what happens to anyone that has mental and physical issues, as shown when he was going to allow a group of villains from different universes with their own Spider-Men to return to their universes and meet their fates instead of helping them, which goes against his nature as a doctor, although his intentions were to preserve the safety of the Multiverse.

Although he has a good heart, Strange has shown to get easily annoyed and frustrated with everyone around him, especially his friends and allies, as he can be harsh and would lose his temper with them at times. Also, Strange has let his pride get the better of him, as he would place the blame on others instead of taking responsibility for his actions and mistakes. This is shown when Strange blamed Palmer, West and other doctors for ruining his life because he wouldn't accept the fact that the car accident was caused by his carelessness and lack of regard for his safety, and Parker for botching up the spells that was meant to help restore his secret identity as Spider-Man, even though they were both to blame for the incident. Also, Strange can sound heartless whenever he was upset and doesn't listen to reason, even when his friends or allies call him out for his behavior, as seen when he wasn't fazed when Parker told him to have a heart. However, despite his annoyances, frustration and pride, Strange does understand that those around him had good intentions and their hearts were in the right place. Also, Strange would make an honest effort in making amends for his actions and mistakes, especially if he realized how badly he messed up, hurt and pushed those he cares about away.

Bob Chapek, the CEO of Marvel's parent company Disney, seemed to downplay the movies' difficulties getting into China during Wednesday's earnings call, saying that the China market "doesn't really preclude our success."

In its five-year film plan that it laid out last year, the China Film Administration made it a priority for local films to account for the majority of annual box office going forward. The Chinese films "The Battle of Lake Changjin" and "Hi, Mom" were the second and third biggest movies of 2021.

It may be a shame that the second Doctor Strange film wasn't called Doctor Stranger, but Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a wonderfully way-out title in its own right: rich with the promise of pulp-fiction excitement and midnight-movie wackiness. Delightfully, the film itself fulfils that promise.


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