So, the first thing you should know is that I had zero intentions of watching this movie because Dr. Strange is just not my jam. He comes across as Magical Tony Stark without the heart (to me! If you love him, so be it! That’s great and I’m glad you do!) I am just saying, I found the first Dr. Strange movie a slog–though I did love the confrontation at the end that basically required the big bad to find Dr. Strange as irritating as I did.
I didn’t see No Way Home–I wasn’t doing theaters. I’m still not doing theaters since I live in a community that is happy to consider covid as something firmly in the rear view. But Dr. Strange MoM showed up on Disney plus and well, I decided I could always turn it off and walk away if it annoyed me too much.
Just so you know, from here on there are spoilers. I am usually the last person to see a movie, so I rarely worry about spoilers, but, if you have also been avoiding the theaters, etc…. Here is your spoiler warning.
As I started, I thought, oh goody a video game montage. This was not a propitious start. Selfish Strange, monsters, weird jumping setting, helpless damsel…. Then Strange woke up and I thought oh, yeah, I am not going to be able to watch this.
The thing about Dr. Strange is that he always strikes me on screen as utterly artificial, like a plastic Ken Doll. I don’t know if it’s because of Benedict Cumberbatch’s American accent (which to be fair is good, yet…. not quite natural), or if it’s the silly white streaks in his hair (which just always looks like someone has painted already fake black hair with some chalk spray) or the whole… staginess of him. I suppose that is appropriate for a “sorcerer” to be stagey. Either way, it was late, I was inert, and there was a cat on my lap. I kept watching.
Hey, the tentacle blob monster! I liked that! Okay, I liked one specific thing about it. It reminded me of the ridiculously gross toy I had as a child–the Wacky Wall Walker. Those were the weirdest, gummiest, most distinctive toys ever, and the way they slobbered down walls, sticking and falling is embedded in my memory, and here was a giant one! So that was fun. And Wong! I love Wong. More Wong!
Then we get plot, yadda yadda, dead Stephen Strange, which… why don’t I like Benedict Cumberbatch in this role??? I just don’t. He should be funny, with his dry comments and snark, but he just sounds contemptuous all the time. So yeah, the “Kid” comments which I think are supposed to humanize him, just make him sound like he can’t be bothered to recall America’s name.
And then there was Wanda.
So this is the other GIANT GLARING REASON I didn’t want to see this movie. I love Wanda. She’s a complicated character, driven by grief and with enough power to try to “fix” things. WandaVision was the series I was least interested in seeing, yet it rapidly became my favorite. I don’t mind that she’s motivated by “motherhood”. What I minded was that this was going to be the same lesson that she learned in Westview all over again, which… either says the character is dumb and has to make the same mistake more than once, just with bigger consequences, or is designed to supplant the show I enjoyed. They seemed to try to split the difference which was a big ugh from me. Wanda’s villain arc here is completely based on the series; she and Strange even discuss that she learned better. Except she hasn’t. And then I wondered, why the hell she didn’t just magic up her kids again? Whatever.
The show writers tried their best, I think. Showing that other people have their own losses and grief and haven’t torn the universe apart trying to find what they had lost. But still…. Basically, any of the plot points that required me to think about Wanda’s motivations just got me irked. I do love Wanda and I did love her being the Big Bad–being reasonable–so as long as I didn’t think about it, I enjoyed her on the screen.
I did like all the multiverse shenanigans, surprisingly, though they also made it hard to feel that anything had real consequences. Sure, kill Captain Carter; she’ll be around in other universes. And Zombie Strange was a delight with his cape of angry souls. Go Zombie Strange!
America was… fine. The actress is engaging; the character had nothing to do. Since I’m not familiar with her from the comics, I don’t actually know how “useful” her power is as a superhero. Seems like they don’t want people messing with the multiverses so… she can’t use it much? I will wait to be wowed.
But Wanda…. JFC. It still makes me cranky. She is blamed (rightfully!) for Westview. She is villainous! Fine. Except superhero comics and movies are always so arbitrary about tagging someone a villain or a hero. (I am still extremely bitter about Karli Morgenthau and John Walker from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.) Other Strange destroyed one universe, and his own people had to kill him. Wanda killed a bunch of superheros and defenders of Kamar-Taj, then threatened another universe and had to die. (Die, ha! This is super-hero land.) Wanda uses the Darkhold to dreamwalk and that’s EVIL. Strange uses it and desecrates a corpse and that’s THE ONLY WAY. She calls him out for being a hypocrite and she’s right. She does bad things and self-immolates. Strange causes another incursion which threatens the lives of another entire universe and gets a cheeky wink from Charlize Theron and an invitation to help her fix it. Two different standards is all I’m saying.
Well, that, and these superheroes really need therapy.