Rating: 5/5 (film 1), 4/5 (film 2)
Director, film 1 (2016): Scott Derrickson
Director, film 2 (2022): Sam Raimi
Can you imagine a world dressed in femininity where the feminine leadership style of compassion, empathy and selflessness dominates and opposes any individualism and having personal power other than for bringing people together to defend the world? This is what the Doctor Strange film, released in 2016, portrays with the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) defending the world and having witchcraft powers as well as time travel powers, through her training of Doctor Strange, a surgeon whose hands are shaking after neurological damage caused by an accident.
Originally, Doctor Strange looks for help to heal himself but then ends up training to become one of the masters defending the world from those who want to obtain the power from the Darkhold to live forever and rule the Earth.
Doctor Strange is portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, who simply cannot do anything wrong. It is enough for me to see his face on the film poster, and I want to watch it. Just remember him as Sherlock in a new edition of the BBC series (2010-2017) or as Greville Wynne, an MI6 agent in The Courier. Incredible portrayal of those characters as well as Doctor Strange in these two films.
The second film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness continues in the same vein, except this time Doctor Strange becomes the master and gets an unwanted leadership and following by other masters. Again, this is beautifully portrayed, and it is a man who leads selflessly and in a way that serves the world but not personal interests. This shows it is not just women who can lead compassionately and empathetically and selflessly, it is those of us, any of us, who embrace what is commonly associated with femininity in behaviour and leadership. Just like there are masculine women who can be worse than men in the way they lead, behave and compete with others, there are also men who do not demonstrate masculine characteristics. It is these men that need empowering and pushing ahead. This also led me to think about mentoring others and how important it is for people to have role models, but I am not sure this needs to be gendered. I think it needs to be based on personalities and personal background, so we do not sink into radicalism and just mentor one another, which is often the case with men mentoring men and women mentoring women (or, there are calls for women to mentor women more than they currently do, which I have been doing extensively but I never abandoned supporting decent men either). The Ancient One, a woman, in the first film trains Doctor Strange, a man, who is like her and eventually embraces her philosophy and works towards fighting the forces of evil for the common good.
This is what I read from these films, and I thoroughly enjoyed them, apart from the obviously exciting travel through the multiverse and the struggle for saving the world. I also enjoyed the narrative of multiple universe theories and how the second film portrays our lives and personalities being different in each universe, which was interesting, and it reminded me of a funny statement Sheldon makes in The Big Bang Theory about believing in multiple universes but being certain that in none of them, he is dancing. But compellingly, Doctor Strange loves the same person in all universes and struggles to get together with her in all of them equally.
Another interesting aspect of the second film is the witch Scarlett who is the main villain in this film and who is trying to destroy the multiverse to live in the one where she has children, which initially shows selfishness but when those same children confront her, she needs to make a choice and decide whom she is doing this for, thus considering also destroying the Darkhold to stop anyone else from destroying the Multiverse. The Scarlett Witch appears in other Marvel films and is also known as Wanda Maximoff, a witch that can harness the chaos magic who, in other Marvel films, hates Tony Stark, the Ironman and then later joins HYDRA, a paramilitary organisation doing also experiments that amplified her powers.
Very interesting two films with plenty of action, time travel, multiverse theory, and an underlying story of human character and leadership styles. I loved both films but the first one is absolutely outstanding and my favourite.
Thank you for reading.