Anghus Houvouras on the ending of Doctor Strange and how it gives him hope for the future of the MCU…
I’ve been one of the most vocal critics of Marvel movies online. While everyone else is doing backflips for each new Marvel movie that comes out, I’m the guy in the corner screaming “But they’re all the same” at the top of his lungs, drowned out by the sounds of applause from fans and critics alike.
The truth is I’ve become bored with most superhero movies. The DC Extended Universe is, at best, haphazardly assembled hot messes of motion pictures that occasionally stumble into brilliance. While Marvel Studios’ offerings have become so formulaic that they’re all starting to feel like one big copy/paste where plot and character are ultimately interchangeable.
I liked Doctor Strange, but I didn’t love it. There was too much in the middle where the film paused to address every single quadrant of the ticket buying public. There were, however, moments of pure brilliance that made me remember how good Marvel could be when they allow themselves to deviate from the 11 herbs & spices of their cinematic recipe.
The most brilliant moment of Doctor Strange was the film’s final scene. SPOILER ALERT. The final confrontation avoided the typical third act explosion fest and instead went for something more cerebral. Strange uses his knowledge of time manipulation to trick the Dark Lord Dormammu into a repeating loop trapping them in a single inescapable moment. Without options, Dormammu is forced to bargain with Strange for the fate of our world.
The ending felt so fresh. Especially in a series of movies that has become accustomed to uninspired third acts more likely to assault your brain with loud, frantic action than stimulate it with something intelligent.
There are still lingering issues I have with the Marvel movies. Most notably the similarity of so many central characters, all of them possessing the power of super snarkiness. And I don’t think every Marvel movie needs to be so laced with humor. But with that said, Doctor Strange was the first Marvel movie in a long time to make me optimistic about future offerings. There are glimpses of brilliance in Doctor Strange that Marvel needs to build upon. I think Doctor Strange’s final scene is right up there with Star Lord’s dance-off scene in Guardians of the Galaxy for sheer cinematic delight.
We need more heroes thinking their way out of tough situations instead of punching all their problems in the face.