When I first went to the theaters to watch Doctor Strange, I was expecting it to be one of the run of the mill superhero films. The first act matched my expectations. It was pretty much the first Iron Man movie. The main character is an arrogant genius, something bad happens to him because of his own hubris, and he has to start from scratch.
But the second and third act completely surprised me. I expected Doctor Strange to act like the rest of the Avengers, acting uncaring and arrogant while everyone fawns over how talented he is. He actually has to work for his powers, instead of being born with them or being injected with glorified steroids. He’s not in this game for glory or praise, but rather to better himself and to help others.
Doctor Strange does have some problems in relation to the wider Marvel Universe. Like I said before, the first act is pretty much exactly like the first Iron Man. I know I’ll be skipping through it when I watch the film on DVD. Doctor Strange manages to carry the second and third act of the film into new and enjoyable territory. The way he values human life, solves his problems without violence, refuses to get caught up in petty feuds, and willingly helps others makes him stand out as the most heroic of the characters Marvel has to offer so far. And yes, that includes such stalwart figures as Captain America and Thor. Here are 5 reasons why Doctor Strange is a better hero than any of the avengers:
Doctor Strange was a hero before the movie began
But before we go into detail about how Doctor Strange is a hero in his movie, it has to be pointed out that he was a hero from the get go. When we see him at the start of the film, he’s already saving lives as a neurosurgeon. Sure, he’s an asshole at the beginning of the movie. He’s cavalier. He talks about music during surgery rather than focusing on the task at hand. Which, you know, is just fixing someone’s brain, no big deal. But being heroic and being an asshole aren’t contradictory. You can save a life and still be a dick about it.
The rest of the Avengers weren’t so heroic before they became superheroes. Bruce Banner was increasing the world’s knowledge by studying Gamma Rays, but look what a mess that turned out to be. Tony Stark was a war profiteer, meaning he actually gained money from the deaths of others. Thor was a big bully, enjoying nothing more than killing frost giants and waging war. Though this would make him a hero in some cultures like Ancient Greece, where the only qualification for being a hero was being really, really good at killing things. Captain America was picking pointless fights that he could never win. Black Widow and Hawkeye were working for SHIELD, but considering that SHIELD was HYDRA all along, their actions, however unknowingly, were ultimately for a Nazi organization.
None of them, unlike Doctor Strange, were bettering the world before their respective stories began. Some of them, like Tony Stark and Thor were in fact making the universe a worse place to live. So when tallying up who’s more heroic, Doctor Strange already has a lead over the Avengers simply because he’s a doctor and already saving human life.Advertisement
Doctor Strange cares for human life
Around the end of the movie’s second act, Doctor Strange has defeated some mooks, killing one of them. But he’s not realized or triumphant or even neutral about the turn of events. He’s horrified and shocked. “I’m a doctor,” he says. “I took an oath to do no harm.” This is one of the most striking moments in the movie. This is the first time in a Marvel superhero movie that we’ve seen a protagonist be horrified about killing another living being.
None of the Avengers seem to regret killing others. Hawkeyes is an assassin, killing people is what he does and he’s never shown remorse. Black Widow has the same career and she seemed to have regrets in the first Avengers movie. But it’s revealed in Age of Ultron that her angst is around her infertility, not the fact that she’s actually killed people. Iron Man and Captain America may butt heads, but they seem to both be okay with shooting people to accomplish their goals. Hulk smashes without thinking, that’s kind of his thing. In the first Thor movie, it appears the title character has learned a lesson about the sanctity of life, but by the first Avengers movie he’s back to hitting aliens with his hammer without a care.
Marvel tries to make their movies complex and thought provoking, but they never address the real harm that their characters cause to others. They don’t address the psychological impact of ending another human life. Why doesn’t Iron Man angst about the insurgents he killed in the Middle East? Does Captain America wonder if any of those Hydra agents deserved to die? Doctor Strange actually addresses this by having a hero, for all his arrogance, show compassion for his fellow man and regret over the self-defense killing he committed.
Doctor Strange uses non-violent solutions to his problems
The most awesome scene in Doctor Strange was not an action sequence. At the very end, he approaches Dormammu, the ruler of the Negative Dimension. The Negative Dimension looks great. It’s weird and trippy and it’s design is straight out of the comic books. It really stands out against the more colorless sequences on Earth. But the best part is that Doctor Strange gets what he wasn’t out of Dormammu, but not with power or fists. He traps himself and the entity in a time loop and refuses to break the loop until Dormammu agrees to give Doctor Strange what he wants. Every time the time loop reset and Doctor Strange said, “I’ve come to make a bargain” I got chills. The solution to the problem the movie sets up was neat, clever and entertaining to watch.
Not to mention, it was completely refreshing when set next to the other final acts of Marvel movies. All of the other superheros hit things, put the McGuffin in the thing and move on. This style of resolution can make for some good popcorn flicks, but after watching at least ten Marvel movies, it starts to feel the same and boring. For some heroes, it’s excusable. When I go see a Iron Man or a Thor movie, I expect some stuff to get hit. But other heroes should use some more creative problem solving skills. You would think that Black Widow, who was set up to be a guile hero as she only has her wits and knowledge has her superpowers, would be more creative when dealing with bad guys.
These movies are often seen as mere entertainment, but a lot of children look up to superheroes as role models What lessons are they learning if they just see their idols punching their way through problems? If I have children, I hope they look up to Doctor Strange and learn to find peaceful solutions to their problems.
Doctor Strange does not get caught up in petty feuds
Unlike, the Avengers, Doctor Strange actually tries to cooperate with people and does not start civil wars over silly matters. He doesn’t resent his initial rejection to be trained in the Mystical Arts, even as he begs to be let back in. It does not cross his mind to insult the people who reject him. When he tries to tamper with forces greater than himself and is told to cut that out by Wong, he cuts it out and doesn’t start a war over being told “no.” He does not berate the Ancient One for breaking the rules. This contrasts him with fledgling villain Baron Mordo, who cannot forgive his mentor. Doctor Strange does not even resent the villains of the movie, Kaecilius and Dormammu. Like it was said in the previous entry, he deals with them in a peaceful matter. At the end of the movie, he says he wants to get dangerous people out of New York, and Loki is one of those people. But instead of attacking Loki, he cooperates with Loki and Thor’s goals in exchange for them leaving.
The Avengers, on the other hand, literally have a movie about them called Civil War. This article is not about which side is right or wrong, but whatever team you’re on, you can probably agree that if the sides had just talked it out and had been willing to forgive slight perhaps the Avengers could have got their shit together and worked on defeating the real threat, Baron Zemo. Or heck, made preparations for more alien invasions which we know are inevitable. Or started a charity to help orphaned puppies. Or done literally anything else beside punch each other in the face. Hopefully by the time Avengers: Infinity War comes around our “heroes” will have learned to talk things out and work as a team again. Maybe Doctor Strange could give them a few pointers.
Doctor Strange's pain doesn't get others killed
Doctor Strange is a messed up person. He destroys his own life trying to cure his hands, and it takes him the entity of the movie for him to get his act together. But he limits his destructive spiral to himself. He doesn’t let his few loved ones get caught up in his messes. When it comes to solving problems on a bigger scale, Doctor Strange hasn’t caused any world-ending catastrophes. He’s helped stop them sure, but his villains are not of his own making. He took an oath to “do no harm” and keeps to it.
As for the Avengers, who has not been affected by Tony Stark’s self-destructive fits? It’s a miracle any of his friends and loved ones still stick around him. Aldrich Killian was set upon a destructive path by Tony Stark. His bombs ruined Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver’s lives, killed their parents and wrecked havoc across Sokovia. And of course, Tony created Ultron, the robot that wrecked havoc across the planet.
But don’t worry, we’re not just going to pick on Tony Stark. Bruce Banner’s irresponsible experiments have resulted in loss of life. Hulk is dangerous, and the authorities are right to step in. He also helped Tony Stark build Ultron. The Avengers had to spend the entire movie cleaning up a mess two of their own made. At least now Doctor Strange is in New York and ready to protect others from the Avengers’ destructive habits.