I often admired the animated output of DC, which managed to be sophisticated enough to be enjoyed by an older audience, yet nonetheless could be watched by kids too. Marvel’s animated series were always aimed at a younger audience. Fun and enjoyable, sure, but lacking the strong characterization of DC’s output. Thankfully, this Dr. Strange movie from 2007 seems to imitate the DC approach.
It’s a retelling of Strange’s origin story (famous Doctor has an accident and now searches for a method to heal his damaged hands, becomes big magic honcho in the process), but with enough new material and a slightly different twist on certain events to not make it a xerox-copy of the original. Mordo is there, but with a different design than his comic counterpart. Wong and the Ancient One seem more or less the same. There’s also Dormammu as the big villain, who sadly has a different design too (his comic design is IMHO far superior and it would have been fun to see it animated).
That said, for all the changes, the movie captures the essentials of Dr. Strange well. Not that this should be too difficult, after all, Strange is a pretty typical magician fighting the forces of evil with a Marvel-tragedy spin added to the mix. The movie adds further tragedy, by introducing Strange’s sister and her premature death, though I hated the crap about that some people aren’t destined to get saved.
I know it’s a byproduct of a universe where destiny and magic and such stuff are real, but I really hate the sentiment. Less annoying (but still annoying) is the whole Yoda-incarnation the Ancient One is doing (giving cryptic remarks that should be wisdom but come over as the usual mysticism-crap). Where the movie shines is the action. There’s a strong action sequence at the beginning where an invisible magic beast is wreaking havoc in New York. Then there’s the fight near the end of the movie between Strange and Dormammu’s forces.
That said, if only the fights were fun to watch, it probably would be a pretty dull movie in-between the start and the end. But the rest is pretty good too – the journey of Strange from arrogant Doctor to broken man to Sorcerer Supreme – even with the annoyances I mentioned. Overall, this is a fun movie that modernizes Dr. Strange without abolishing most of the elements from the source material.