Why It’s the Most Underrated MCU Origin Film

When Marvel fans think of their favorite MCU origin film, many will be quick to answer that it is 2008’s Iron Man. The Jon Favreau-directed film that starred Robert Downey Jr. kickstarted the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Because the film was so important to the franchise, it’s no surprise that Iron Man has been a consistent top pick. But over more than a decade of films, Marvel Studios has produced great introductory solo films such as Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy. Surprisingly, one of the more underrated films has been Doctor Strange.

Both Stephen Strange and Wong have quickly become fan-favorite characters in the MCU, appearing in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgameas well as the animated What If …? But Marvel Studios has only managed to leverage the characters’ potential thanks to a strong origin film. Director Scott Derrickson created something special with 2016’s Doctor Strangewhich has set up an exciting sequel in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Here are some of the reasons why Doctor Strange is the most underrated MCU origin film thus far.


Related: Doctor Strange: 7 Actors Almost Cast as the MCU Sorcerer

Successfully Introduced the Mystic Arts to the MCU

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Just as Guardians of the Galaxy established new ground by telling a story set on alien worlds and in space, Doctor Strange introduced the mystic arts to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While Wanda Maximoff already possessed powers derived from the Mind Stone, the mystical side of the MCU had never truly been explored before Doctor Strange. It was never going to be an easy task introducing sorcerers and ensuring that they seamlessly fit in with the larger MCU. But Doctor Strange did it effortlessly, capturing the more strange elements of the Mystic Arts while still making it accessible to viewers. The film explored other dimensions, magic rituals and spells, illusions, travel through portals, and time manipulation. It was the first time fans got to see the Time Stone, an Infinity Stone contained within the Eye of Agamotto.

Doctor Strange utilized magic to convey that there is so much more to the world than meets the eye. The Mystic Arts were about understanding this and surrendering oneself to something much bigger than them. There were prevalent themes of the consequences of breaking rules and how taking risks has at times, always been necessary. Additionally, Doctor Strange touched on the concept of mortality and immortality. Despite disallowing other sorcerers from drawing power from the Dark Dimension, the Ancient One used its power to keep herself alive for hundreds of years. She came to accept her fate and taught Stephen Strange a simple but important lesson; the world has never been about them.

Doctor Strange Was Visually Stunning

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Before and after the release of Doctor Strangemany compared the film’s visual style with that of Christopher Nolan’s Inception. It was not a surprising comparison, as both films featured incredible reality-bending visual effects. Because the Masters of the Mystic Arts did not obey the laws of physics at all, Doctor Strange had to represent that in its cinematography. The Marvel Cinematic Universe had already done high-tech suits of armor, robots, aliens, and green rage monsters. But it had never portrayed an astral form being separated from a person’s body or had previously depicted the Multiverse. Before Doctor Strange, there was no time reversing or accelerating time, and sorcerers had never warped space in the Mirror Dimension. There was something special about seeing Doctor Strange, Wong, Mordo, and the Ancient One battling Kaecilius and his Zealots outside the physical realm.

Without a doubt, Doctor Strange was a masterclass in using visual effects to take audiences on a spectacular journey. Audiences experienced a massively entertaining, visually stunning journey that brought a new energy to the world of Marvel. After complaints that previous Marvel films such as Captain America: Civil War had looked too gray, Doctor Strange treated viewers to a vibrant-colored two hours. All the film’s visuals were tied to the storytelling and Stephen Strange’s journey into the Mystic Arts. Strange was meant to initially feel out of his element and feel completely overwhelmed. Nearly 30 films have been released by Marvel Studios, but Doctor Strange has continued to be regarded as one of the best-looking films in the entire MCU.

Related: Doctor Strange 2 Will Feature More Surprises Than Endgame & No Way Home Combined

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There was a long six-year gap between Doctor Strange and its sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. But the characters that Doctor Strange introduced continued to resonate with fans outside their main movies. Stephen Strange and Wong, both who have held the title of Sorcerer Supreme, are among the most powerful superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Their friendship has been a major MCU highlight, with Doctor Strange being where it all began. The film established Wong as a sorcerer who takes his duties very seriously – he is the voice of reason that has provided a contrast to Strange’s recklessness. Doctor Strange not only established Stephen Strange as a remarkably talented man, but also as one of Marvel’s most flawed heroes. Rather than making Strange unlikeable, it made him incredibly human and a deeply fascinating character.

Mordo and the Ancient One were both strong personalities with good intentions, but with differing ideas on how to serve the greater good. The characters in Doctor Strange being Masters of the Mystic Arts did not change that they were still very human and flawed. Doctor Strange effectively portrayed how some are able to overcome their shortcomings, while others are unfortunately brought down by them. Beyond mastery of the mystic arts, the sorcerers were challenged to master their own selves. Each character was in a much different position by the end of the film than where they first started off. Strong characters and character development have allowed Doctor Strange to become an impressive origin film.


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