I hadn’t planned to write about movies on this blog, but my goodness, the very first scene in for Doctor Strange and we have an expertly severed head. Another one. I am being stalked by decapitation.

I am not in the obvious target demographic but I do like a good Marvel superhero movie – of which there are luckily many. I’ve read criticisms about this latest that it is the same old-same old. Just as in Iron Man and Deadpool (I mention my favourites), you have to break a man to make a hero.

This is an inarguable observation about the storyline, but is it a reason not to like a movie? How many stories do we have to play around with anyway? In an assertion often attributed to Leo Tolstoy, we are told there are only two to chose from: a person goes on a journey, and a stranger comes to town.

The first storyline was further tied down by Joseph Campbell (The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 1949). The steps along a hero’s journey are defined – and Campbell’s analysis has been highly influential. The difference story to story, movie to movie is in the details. All the small things that make the story feel real and authentic – even when we are tripping along in Marvel-land.

Visually, Doctor Strange is Marvel-lous. The simple can be as freaky as the most elaborate ‘Inception’ images. His own fractal hand mesmerises Doctor Strange: a hand grows from each of his fingertips and a hand grows from each of those fingertips and on and on. Then the world spirals and upends and folds in. We are taken on a mind-bending journey. And brought back with touches of humour.

Doctor Strange, the character, starts his ‘spiritual’ journey believing we are each a ‘tiny, momentary spec within an indifferent universe.’ A sobering thought. Doctor Strange is not just action and saving the world from dark forces, and we can come away thinking about our place in the universe.

Lucky isn’t it, that we discover it’s not a universe after all and we are in fact in a weird and wonderful multiverse.

Benedict Cumberbatch can do no wrong and inhabits Doctor Strange beautifully. If my heart wasn’t already lost to David Mitchell and David Mitchell I would be a signed up member of the Cumberbitches (while respectfully noting his discomfort with the name and whether it has set back feminism).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Marcello from Potenza, Italy for the psychedelic image, Dizzy Thorns.

 

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