What does Doctor Strange means for the MCU?
Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme, has finally arrived to the big screen, with no small amount of critical acclaim. While the film is hardly anything revolutionary in regards to the plot of an origin story – Bad Things Happen to Character, Character Gain Abilities, Bad Guy Does Bad Things, Character Stops Bad Guy with their New Abilities – it does succeed on many levels and sets up the Marvel Cinematic Universe for years to come.
For the Marvel execs, Doctor Strange had only three goals. If it could meet at least two of them, it would be a success:
- Introduce Magic to the MCU
- Build Audience Love for Doctor Strange
- Turn a Profit
The fact that making money off of their film was probably only their third most important goal is a testament in itself to what a juggernaut Marvel Studios, but it’s true. With Marvel releasing three movies a year from here on out, they don’t all need to be financial successes anymore. Marvel can play the field, experiment, because what it now most important, profitable, is not any one individual movie. It’s the brand.
By introducing the concept of “magic” to their universe, Marvel has opened up many new plotlines for themselves. Now that Doctor Strange has magic, Avengers can have magic. And Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor and Black Panther and etcetera. With one movie, they have laid the foundation for a dozen others. Which at this point is kind of Marvel’s signature move. And as anyone who has seen Doctor Strange will agree, they have once again pulled it off expertly. (Or should I say “magically” . . . I’ll stop)
The other big goal for Doctor Strange, besides turning a profit, was to make us a love Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange. It’s no secret that as time goes on, it becomes less and less likely that Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth will have their inhumanly beautiful mugs gracing the posters of Marvel movies. People get older and no longer fit the part, actors get bored, life happens. That means that there is a very real time limit on our current lineup of Avengers.
Preparing for the inevitable, Marvel has already begun grooming the next generation of Marvel stars to be ready to take the reins when the time comes. And their new leader is likely to be Doctor Strange.
Obvious physical similarities aside (Awesome Facial Hair Bros), Tony Stark and Stephen Strange are very much alike. Witty, cunning, intelligent, arrogant, snarky, and natural leaders who are peerless in their field. Who better to fill the shoes of Ironman as team leader and wisecracker than the good Doctor?
And so, Marvel needs fans to fall in love with Doctor Strange as soon as possible. People will go to any movie that has Ironman in it simply because of his presence. RDJ sells tickets. If Strange is going to replace him, he needs to be able to pull the same levels of crowds.
Doctor Strange goes a long way to endearing us to the character, but we’ll need to wait and see how he interacts with the other heavy hitters of the MCU before accepting our new magical overlord.
However, if the mid-credits scene of Doctor Strange is any indication, we have a lot to look forward to.