Is Doctor Strange the Best Origin Story in the MCU?
Guest Blog by Robert Mills, Destrus76's Mind Debris
Doctor Strange is in theaters now, and he is one of the lesser known Marvel characters who is getting his own franchise. This was one of those movies that was more of a gamble (think Ant-Man and Guardians Of The Galaxy). It won the weekend with over $80 million in domestic box office and is already over $300 million worldwide. But, how does the first appearance of The Sorcerer Supreme stack up against the first standalone movies in the MCU?
SPOILERS for Doctor Strange and the MCU to date Follow
Doctor Strange is the second outing in MCU’s Phase Three. The MCU is very complex at this point, and we have an origin film that reflects the mature and intricate cinematic universe it is set in. The story is much more complex than previous origin stories. This is the first MCU film that beautifully balances more than two villains. The team at Marvel knows that these characters are going to be appearing in other films very soon. They are giving these characters depth and weight that they didn’t attempt earlier in the MCU.
Not ANOTHER Origin Movie!
I’ll admit that I was a little lukewarm on Doctor Strange from the previews. It looked predictable and formulaic. I went into it without very high expectations. The last MCU origin movie, Ant-Man, was a little bit underwhelming. I’m also NOT a big fan of origin stories. They tend to be interchangeable with more of a desire to set up the sequel than to tell their own story.
For a variety of reasons, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Ant-Man all had their shortcomings as did more acclaimed films like Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy. Thor was a phase one MCU movie, it was simple and straightforward. Captain America: FA was a fairly bland film and very linear film to setup future greats. Ant-man had a thin plot and a weak villain. Guardians was less origin and more ensemble.
Evolution of the Origin Plot
Doctor Strange breaks the mold of simplistic origin stories. It’s entertaining to watch throughout, with twists and turns and revelations. The characters are more compelling. The motivations are very grey, with little black and white. The nuances of the action behind the scenes leads to more revelations when you watch it more than once.
There’s a lot going on here:
- Strange, losing everything and learning what his true purpose can be.
- The conflict between The Ancient One And Kaecilius
- The conflict between Dormammu and the good Sorcerers
- Ultimately, the fall of Mordo from loyal Sorcerer to a man who learns his life was a lie and what he must do now. “Too many sorcerers.”
Unlike previous MCU origin movies, Doctor Strange features several complicated characters. Some are outright villains, and some could only be considered villains depending on your point of view. Doctor Strange does a very good job of painting almost all of its secondary characters in shades of gray in order to spin a compelling story.
The various villains in the other ‘MCU origin films’ have been a mixed bag.