Doctor Strange 2 Critical Analysis: The Character Assassination of Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange 2 Critical Analysis: The Character Assassination of Doctor Strange

I thought I had covered everything I wanted to say in my last video, but the more I think about this movie, the more issues I have found.

At this point in time, I was having a hard time figuring out what to speak on without making a two hour long video. The multiverse of madness is infuriating, not only for what it was, but for what its potential could have been.There is no doubt this movie had immense potential and it fell very short of my expectations.  This movie should have been the Phase 4 equivalent of Civil War. Setting up everything that is to come from now until the next large scale Avengers Conflict.

There was just so much I wanted to say, but the largest issue and for me the most important problem was the complete bastardization of Doctor Strange in this movie. So here I am, but this time with a new approach. I decided to perform a basic yet critical analysis of this movie and break down what I feel it should have been.  So let’s get into this and break down what happened to this film and what problems cause it to fall short. 

There are many problems with this film and it would take hours to break it down. But there is a single issue, more blatantly bad and infuriating that to me stands above all others. The complete character assassination of Doctor Steven Strange.  

How did we go from a film which both depicted and acknowledged Strange to be thoughtful, self sacrificing, and above all else concerned with saving reality, to the abomination we are presented with in the Multiverse of Madness. 

Long gone are the great character motivations, struggles and growth. It seems that all Marvel knows how to do is tear down characters so they can repeat the same development over and over again.  Sadly, in the case of Doctor Strange, we only see him torn down and cast aside, ending up as a shadow of his former self.  Gone are the days when the movies tried to deal with complex concepts that go deeper than surface level ideas or ham fisted identity politics. 

At the end of his last film, we saw him willingly get killed over and over again to save reality. It wasn’t explicitly stated how many times he suffered death at the hands of Dormammu, but it is clear that he suffered repeatedly as he bargained for the survival of his world and everyone living within it. 

This is never spoken of again, at least in the films, and he doesn’t brag about what he did to save the world. Yes, he is a little arrogant, sees himself as a leader, but that is an understandable reaction to the mantle of responsibility he has taken upon himself. This is directly shown to us in the post credit scene as well as his appearance in Thor Ragnarok when he is keeping an eye on any threat which could impact the earth. 

In Infinity war, Doctor Strange, in preparation for the fight with Thanos, looks into the potential futures to see how they can win. 

And seeing that they only had one option among millions, he proceeds to sacrifice himself and half the universe, betting on Tony and the surviving Avengers to make it right. 

Hulk comes to the realization that Strange gave up the Time Stone for a reason. And again, in Infinity War, before Strange disintegrates, he tells Tony it was the only way. 

The reason I wanted to break down each of these scenes and show you the clips in the video is to help give context for my criticism of how this movie and all of phase 4 seems to misunderstand all of these elements. 

Now that we have broken down the key elements of who Doctor Strange is, we can begin to understand how this movie does a complete disservice to him as a character. 

Steven Strange has drastically changed from his first 4 MCU appearances in Phase 3 is disheartening.  The Doctor Strange we have seen thus far is not the same doctor strange who appears in Spiderman No Way Home and in The Multiverse of Madness. 

Let’s break down how this movie doesn’t understand Steven Strange as a character and how they perform the complete character assassination of the true Sorceror Suprime.

It is absolutely infuriating that they stripped him of his title of “Sorcerer Supreme” on a Technicality. The abdication of the title is obvious and for this to have happened at all makes me question the writer’s motivations. It is made clear that this decision was deliberate, not because it makes sense within the context of the Marvel Universe, but because the studio decided upon this story point to be continued. They make several remarks that in my opinion demean strange and at the end, he finally bows before the Sorcerer Supreme. 

Let’s address the Book of Ashanti and how Steven not knowing about it is a large middle finger to the character and audience! Wong confirms the existence of the book and states that he read about it in a book only available to the “sorcerer supreme.” 

Doctor Strange was shown to have read books he was not allowed to in his first movie. The writers think that the audience is too stupid to realize this and think that Steven wouldn’t have read absolutely everything he could about Magic once he had unrestricted access. This just flabbergasts me. I’m beginning to feel like I care more about this character than the writers of this film. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. There’s still more to cover. 

The scene which perfectly reflects what this movie thinks of Doctor Strange is the scene with the Illuminati. Superior Strange, when faced with the desolation of the universe and the threat of Thanos, turned to the only power he could, the dark hold. He tried over and over again to save the world, and when he didn’t find a solution, he kept trying. First off, I wasn’t sure anyone could be more of a condescending bitch than Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, but what would you know, the Illuminati Superi or Captain Marvel somehow was. The way this line is delivered shows that they think Strange’s persistence to find a solution was shameful. Again, the explanation was that he couldn’t find a solution, but he kept trying anyway. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like something a hero would do. Clearly, whoever wrote this dross doesn’t understand what that means. 

Because of Superior Strange’s actions, he causes an incursion and obviously feels immense guilt about it.  He destroyed that world’s Dark Hold, then discovered the Book of Ashanti which they are able to use to defeat thanos. Superior Strange complies to the request of the others and to atone for his mistake, he lets his team kill him. At least the good folks of the internet granted us this gem. 

If you think about it, this is in line with the character of Doctor Strange that we have come to know. That Strange is willing to give away the infinity stone to Thanos because he knows in the end it is the only way they may be able to defeat him, and would do anything he could to save the universe. 

Even at the beginning of the movie when Defender Strange tries to take America Chaves’ power, he tells her that one life is insignificant when compared to the multiverse. This leads me back to the Illuminati and how they see Doctor Strange is the biggest threat to the multiverse and that all iterations across all multiverses all have the potential for evil.

This shows that the writers of this movie were determined to force Doctor Strange to play the role they wanted to force him into, rather than writing a story for the character we already know.  The writing to make Doctor Strange evil in other worlds is as poorly thought out and is just as contrived as how they made Wanda evil.  It just was decided that they would be and it was put in the story without any regard to actual development or logical consistency. From where Strange starts in this movie and where he ends, there is essentially not any character development. He has no arc in this movie and if anything, his character has been unjustly regressed. 

Throughout the film, the way he makes decisions, to the way he uses magic, is so reactionary. I am a fan of stories that have a proactive protagonist who is central to pushing the story forward rather than a bumbling fool who gets dragged through it. 

I also wanted to touch on how they handle his relationship with Christine. They make it very clear that he screws up that relationship in every single universe. The beginning of the film has him attend her wedding, then he meets the 838 version to be once again reminded of how his relationship with her failed. If there was any sort of development in this movie, it would be that Strange came to accept that he won’t be with her. But there truly is so little development and character moments between the two that really sell this point for me. Honestly, had they not included her in the film at all, it wouldn’t have made a difference. 

Finally, let’s address the end where he kills his other Evil self, and uses the dark hold to possess the corpse of Defender Strange. He uses the magic which he knows to be evil because he is like every other Strange and will use any means necessary to accomplish his goals. Again, like the scene with the illuminati, he makes calculated decisions to serve the greater good of the universe and the multiverse. They should have been more careful with how they wrote this so they wouldn’t paint things evil with such a wide brush. If our Doctor Strange isn’t different than any other, how could he use the Dark Hold and continue to be good when others could not. 

I think this is an interesting idea and I would have loved it had the movie explored this in greater detail. Every one of us had potential to do both good and bad things. Small decisions we make can take us down paths of both good and evil. But like I said before, this movie isn’t  concerned about exploring these deeper concepts. Marvel doesn’t allow for this, instead undercutting it’s movies with dumb jokes and visual spectical. 

In the end, he doesn’t do anything but give a motivational speech to the girl who could do it all along, she just had to realize it. Strange was truly a side character in his own movie and him bowing to Wong at the end, showing his acceptance of his forced abdication of the title of Sorcerer Supreme, was one final slap in the face they managed to fit in. 

It is frustrating to watch Marvel do this over and over again with their characters. Completely destroying them, bringing them down in the hopes to elevate new less interesting characters, instead of writing new characters who can stand on their own. We have seen the inept writers misunderstand and mistreat characters since the beginning of phase 4 and it looks like this trend is going to continue. Poor character writing has ruined Wandavision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, Black Widow, Shang Chi, The Eternals, Hawkeye, Moon Knight, Doctor Strange, and Thor is next.  I’m sick of this shitty writing and it’s truly too bad that Marvel has decided to cast their writers and showrunners instead of hiring them based on talent and meret alone. 

If writing were easy, there wouldn’t be so much shitty entertainment and bad storytelling. I really don’t care where the writers come from, what they look like, or what they believe in. What I want is a good story written by someone with talent who knows enough to respect the characters and the audience.  Not everyone can be a writer, but a writer can come from anywhere. 

I really liked Marvel and the MCU was going really strong for the better part of a decade. But alas, all good things must come to an end. Too bad we will have to continue to watch it crash and burn. 

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