The Marvel Universe is possibly expanding quicker than anyone without a mutated super power enabling comprehension of multiple storylines can keep up with. Recently it’s been the turn of Dr Strange to make his appearance, with Benedict Cumberpatch playing the slightly odd surgeon Dr Steve Strange, who’s idiotic driving ends in a crash that he fully deserves.
Beyond Cumberbatch frowning it is hard to know what to expect, but starring an actor better know for ‘serious drama’ signifies a maturer approach to the Marvel cannon, that and psychedelic swirls better suited to explosions in an ice cream parlour. It also features Mads Mikkelsen, who stars in so many things these days that I half expect to wake up and find him in my bedroom. I know several women for whom this would not be a problem, although their husbands might take issue.
Mikkelsen is underused, and features as some kind of a sushi chef who has watched too many samurai movies. He has stolen some pages from a book in the fiercely guarded library, which clearly wasn’t that well protected. The film is really an expansion upon someone with overdue library book fees to pay.
After The Ancient One (Tilda Swindon) turns London into a huge enveloping Tetris game our first introduction to the Dr is where he’s naming music trivia during a surgical operation like someone rehearsing for Radio 2’s Pop Master. It’s the kind of knowing nod to pop culture that began with Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and is now de rigor of any film that wants to enjoy complicit winks with the section of an audience that knows its Nick Drake from its Nick Cave. It’s a shame Strange never mentions his love of music trivia again, as he lurches off to Tibet after losing use of his hands after the self-inflicted car accident. With Batman, Iron Fist amongst others, it’s hard to know what the Marvel/DC universe would do without the Himalayas – the departures lounge must be packed with superheroes returning to the western world.
Cumberbatch is so good at playing arrogant twats that you have to wonder where the script stops and he starts. He does however do a good job of not laughing at the pompous script, while the multi-verse of different dimensions sounds a little too much like an EDM motto, or the recent Danger Mouse episode involving the Twisty verse. It’s really the story of how he gets his cloak, which isn’t from TK Max and amusingly has a mind of its own. There is of course the customary cameo from Stan Lee.
The end is a little like the Matrix meets the Haribo kaleidoscopic Trolls movie, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless, although it’s hard to see how anything beyond the Dr Strange Origin story can be of much interest.
My debut novel The Life Assistance Agency as chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent can be bought here: