Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Superhero Media: Doctor Strange (2007)

Did you know that Marvel Studios did a series of direct-to-DVD films about some of their heroes in the early 2000s? In many ways they feel like test runs for the live action films that would follow, especially Iron Man and Doctor Strange. Stephen Strange is a brilliant, but egotistical, surgeon who only cares about his near-perfect record and high-profile cases. Secretly, he is haunted by being unable to save his sister's life and takes out that anger on those around him. When a college shows Strange a series of children in a mysterious coma, the flashbacks to his sister's illness distract him and he runs his car off the road. The rest of the film folds out pretty predictably from there; broken hands, the Ancient One, road of trials, Sorcerer Supreme, showdown with Mordo and Dormamu. 

Frankly, I think the twist reveal is better in this version of Doctor Strange than in the MCU version. Dormamu is attacking the Sanctums as a distraction, his true plan is entering our reality through the dreams of the children in comas all around the world. Mordo advocates killing the children, but Strange and Wong can't conscience that kind of thing and Mordo defects. Also, in this version, Strange becomes the Sorcerer Supreme because of an inherent ability to absorb and redirect his opponents' spells, rather than "destiny". I'm not saying that the animated film is the better version, rather that both have their merits. The animation is not brilliant, the performances passable at best and the plot is pretty predictable, it's obvious why these films never challenged the DCAU's domination of the market. 

That's not to say that Doctor Strange isn't worth a look, it's pretty good in places and at least serves as a concept of where the MCU may have gone in an alternate universe. I'm not sure what an MCU led off by Doctor Strange, Iron Man and Hulk would have looked like, but it is kind of fun to think about; I doubt that we'd be ten years in at this point and looking down the barrel of Captain Marvel. I had this on DVD from years back, but I'm fairly certain it's on Netflix if you feel like checking it out. Not much more to say here, it really feels like this has been superseded and is of no real consequence anymore. Shame, some effort went into it, after all. 

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