It’s no secret that superhero movies are everywhere. Chief among them is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which brought serialized storytelling to the genre, and a ton of colorful characters to the silver screen. But with every studio creating shared universes of their own, the comic book genre can become a bit saturated and muddled.
Scott Derrickson directed 2016’s Doctor Strange for Marvel, introducing the Sorcerer Supreme to a wide audience for the first time, welcoming Benedict Cumberbatch into the shared universe in the process. He recently explained the point of his blockbuster, saying:
Well, this makes a great deal of sense. Doctor Strange’s title character had a massive arc throughout the course of the movie, and was a thoroughly changed man by the time he started crossing over with Marvel’s finest in Avengers: Infinity War. He was still a cocky guy, but his MCU debut was rooted in Stephen Strange’s personal growth.
Scott Derrickson’s recent Doctor Strange comments come to us from Twitter, where the director is known to regularly interacting with Marvel fans. This tidbit seemed unsolicited though, as it wasn’t a response to a fan tweet. Instead, Derrickson dropped some pearls of wisdom about the blockbuster without prompting, to fans’ joy.
When Stephen Strange is introduced at the start of Doctor Strange he’s pretty much insufferable. His ego is massive, and he treats everyone around him like they’re less than– including Rachel McAdams’ Christine Palmer. But the renowned surgeon is served a giant slice of humble pie after a horrifying car accident, where his hands were rendered useless and his career was seemingly ruined forever.
This sets off the film’s true events, as Stephen Strange attempts to find a mystical way to heal his wounds, and presumably set his life back on track. But he gets much more than he bargained for, and is trained by The Ancient One and Wong, before facing off against massively powerful foes like Kaecilius and Dormammu.
Both trauma and mysticism aren’t themes that typically run through the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. While Scarlet Witch was introduced back in Avengers: Civil War, her powers don’t actually seem to come from a magical place. Doctor Strange broke new ground in that way, opening up magic, mysticism, and mind-blowing visual affects for the shared universe.
Stephen Strange’s relationship to his car wreck is the root of his trauma, giving audiences a deeper look into the protagonist’s psyche. Suddenly he’s not just a textbook success with a god complex, but one with deep psychotic trouble.