Doctor Strange: A look into the mystic side of movies

Mysticism and modern day movie magic collided with the release of Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange.”

Although this is Marvel’s first cinematic foray into the mystical arts (characters like Scarlet Witch have been changed to have their backgrounds match up with the powers of the Infitity Stones; Marvel’s chief MacGuffan for the Marvel Cinematic Universe), you would think they have been producing media starring the Sorcerer Supreme for decades.

Doctor Strange’s roots are very much within the 60’s-70’s counterculture. Comic book artist and writer Steve Ditko is credited with creating Steven Vincent Strange in 1963, where he premiered in “Strange Tales” issue #110, and fans were instantly swept away. Strange resonated with college students at the time, seeing that Ditko’s illustrations were other-worldly; Ditko had a knack for creating these landscapes and alternative dimensions that invoked senses of wonder within Marvel readers. Coincidentally, the popularity of lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, was skyrocketing, much of this was seen as being reflected onto comic pages with the inclusions of mandalas, or fractals.

Horror aficionado Scott Derrickson of “Sinister” and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” fame was called upon by MCU head honcho Kevin Feige to take on the film adaptation of “Doctor Strange,” and let me tell you, Derrickson did a hell of a job. It was as if Derrickson lifted Ditko’s artwork directly from the comics.

From the dark dimension, to magical artifacts, Derrickson captured a realm of possibility, even though he just scratched the surface of the source material. From the portal creating sling rings, to the dreaded Dormammu and his dark dimension, Derrickson (no pun intended) enchanted me with great story telling, the trippiest visual effects and a great moral progression in the titular character.

The film is one of the most self-contained in Marvel’s repertoire. Fans aren’t barraged with mentions of the Sokovia Accords, or Loki (with the exception of a mid-credits scene starring everyone’s favorite blonde Asgardian, Thor). The universe Strange is in could definitely be its own thing, albeit the good doctor has already been confirmed for “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Those who know me are aware of my distaste of Benedict Cumberbatch, but this film made me throw away my previous convictions. Cumberbatch is a wonderful Strange; snappy, sarcastic, witty, and above all, an asshole, as comic fans are well aware, is one of the most defining early characteristics of Strange.

Overall, the film is definitely worth a view. Even if you’re not a fan of Marvel Studios, the movie is worth seeing for the visual effects alone. Look, I know when someone says the effects alone make the movie worthwhile, it’s a red flag. All sorts of bells and whistles go off in the mind of a film fan, but seriously. It is so great.

Crack open your spell tomes, dawn your mystical artifacts, and make sure you turn off your damn cell phones, and go see this film.

Will Izzo can be contacted at [email protected].