If we’re going to finish this retrospective in time for Avengers: Infinity War, we’ll need to double up these last few movies in our Marvel Studios Retrospective series. So buckle up tight and stow those capes, we’re racing to the finish line with a look back at Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.
Doctor Strange is a quintessential example of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) both for good and for ill. On the one hand, we’ve got another villain who’s only compelling because he’s a dark version of our hero, a love interest that doesn’t really have much of a role in the movie and lots and lots of special effects (though these are some of the best in the MCU).
What Doctor Strange does right, however, is its brilliance in choice of director and its casting in general. Scott Derrickson is known for horror and thriller movies with a supernatural element in them. Bringing him in to introduce the mystic side of the Marvel Universe was a great idea. Also, casting Benedict Cumberbatch was a brilliant choice for two reasons: 1) he is a great actor and embodies the part and 2) let’s be honest, he’s a big name in Hollywood right now so casting him will automatically bring in more ticket sales. Cumberbatch isn’t the only great actor in the cast either: Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton to name a few (even if you don’t like that she was cast as the Ancient One, she’s still a great actress).
Doctor Strange also introduced the idea of the Multiverse and the mystic arts to the MCU. Thor used the “magic is unexplained science” trope but this movie chose a different route, allowing the mystic arts and the Multiverse to be something that isn’t accessed through science or technology. This is tricky way to go because science and technology play such a huge role in pretty much all of the other movies but the movie pulls it off in a way that is both compelling and believable for this universe.
Overall, Doctor Strange is still relatively new to the MCU so time will tell what the full impact of this movie will be, but it was certainly a great start with plenty of seeds for future movies for the Sorcerer Supreme.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Next up for the MCU is Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 which somehow managed to fall into the same traps that most sequels fall into and yet, in many ways, still be more compelling than its predecessor.
You liked the crass humor? Here’s more of it.
You like the 80’s pop music soundtrack? We’re gonna make it even more central to the plot this time.
You liked the 30 seconds of baby Groot at the end of the first movie? Here’s a whole movie with him.
Most sequels go the “let’s make it like the first one but bigger” route and, on the surface at least, Guardians Volume 2 is no different. But just beneath the surface is one of the most human movies the MCU has produced, despite only having one “human” in it (and he’s only half-human at that). The theme of family is not original to movies often becoming cheesy and trite. Somehow, Guardians avoids those sentiments giving us an incredibly moving picture of what family is.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 has more heart than its predecessor and is a worthy addition to the MCU canon.
What did you think of Doctor Strange and Guardians Volume 2 when they were first released? Have your thoughts changed over the past couple of years?