The MCU"s Doctor Strange Needs To Learn More From Benedict Cumberbatch"s Most Overlooked Performance

  • Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of Doctor Strange showcases incredible acting range and depth in the MCU universe.
  • The upcoming Doctor Strange movie needs to explore trauma and past characters to fully utilize Cumberbatch's skills.
  • Doctor Strange 3 can examine the hero's conflicting views on death and sacrifice, delving deeper into Stephen Strange's past.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe needs to learn from an overlooked performance by Benedict Cumberbatch when it comes to the franchise's next Doctor Strange movie. Cumberbatch joined the MCU as Doctor Strange towards the end of the Infinity Saga in 2016’s Doctor Strange, quickly establishing himself as one of the franchise’s most fascinating heroes. After playing key supporting roles in the third and fourth Avengers films and Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange starred in a second solo movie, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which delved into the hardships of Strange’s personal life, even as he traversed the multiverse.
Doctor Strange’s MCU appearances showcase the incredible acting skills of Benedict Cumberbatch, who portrays Strange’s arrogant yet charismatic side during his neurosurgeon days and his more humble and curious side as he develops his skills as a Master of the Mystic Arts. Strange notably struggles with his devotion to preserving human life and his belief that death is sometimes necessary for the greater good. One perhaps overlooked performance by Benedict Cumberbatch shows that his ability to depict trauma is perhaps underutilized in the MCU timeline thus far, and should be explored in greater detail in upcoming Marvel releases.
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Patrick Melrose's Exploration Of Trauma Needs To Be Replicated By The MCU's Doctor Strange Close The 2018 miniseries Patrick Melrose starred Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular protagonist. The series was well-received, with Cumberbatch’s performance depicting the complexity and tragedy of Melrose, a man of wealth and privilege who grapples with an extremely traumatic upbringing and drug addiction, using the latter, along with his humor, to avoid the introspection he needs to heal from his trauma. While Melrose is obviously quite a different character from Stephen Strange, there are, notably, some similarities between the two, such as long-term trauma from their early lives, which the MCU has not brought to the forefront quite yet.
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Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness' Trauma Story Didn't Hit The Right Mark Close Multiverse Of Madness handled many elements of Doctor Strange’s character well, calling his past behaviors into question. Strange knowingly steered the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame to ensure Thanos’s defeat, albeit at the cost of Tony Stark’s life. Similarly, Strange was willing to send multiversal Spider-Man adversaries to their deaths in No Way Home, and Multiverse Of Madness establishes that Strange’s willingness to make morally questionable decisions comes at a cost, with two different iterations of Doctor Strange causing incursions that threaten the multiverse itself. Yet the film arguably does not take full advantage of this flaw.
This Doctor Strange variant willingly allows himself to be executed, proving that his cold stance on death applies to even himself.
Multiverse Of Madness does, however, put a strong emphasis on Doctor Strange’s love life, with Strange failing to make a relationship with Doctor Christine Palmer work and learning, tragically, that possibly every one of his multiversal variants similarly fails. One of Strange’s variants turns to the corrupting Darkhold to dreamwalk across the multiverse, in search of a reality in which he and Palmer are together, but the endeavor results in another incursion and his murdering of numerous Doctor Strange variants. Although Strange’s love for Palmer was certainly touching, the film missed an opportunity by focusing on it so much.
Doctor Strange 3 Is The Perfect Place To Bring The Hero's Past Back To The Forefront Close In his interactions with his sinister multiversal variant, the prime MCU Doctor Strange mentions that the tragic death of his younger sister motivated him to study medicine and eventually become a neurosurgeon, likely to compensate for the trauma by saving other people’s lives. Strange copes with knowingly killing an adversary in the 2016 film, having broken his Hippocratic oath and likely reliving the trauma of losing his sister to some degree, and the hero's newfound role as a Master of the Mystic Arts eventually leads him to see some deaths as necessary for “the grand calculus of the multiverse.”
The eventual third Doctor Strange film will need to delve into Stephen Strange’s past and come to terms with his contradicting views of death and sacrifice. Just as multiple variants of Doctor Strange have caused incursions due to their use of the Darkhold and Dreamwalking, the prime MCU iteration of Strange appears to have done the same due to his desperation to defeat the Scarlet Witch. Strange may have to grapple with newfound guilt over causing the death of an entire universe by Dreamwalking, allowing a third Doctor Strange film to take full advantage of Benedict Cumberbatch’s superb acting skills.
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Enter the world of Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a world-famous neurosurgeon whose car accident left him unable to use his hands. As he desperately tries to find a cure to enable his hands to perform operations again, he comes across a world that leads to another dimension. After being taught about the different dimensions and learning about the constant threat that looms on Earth, he began to embrace his role as the humble protector. Taking after the responsibilities of the Ancient One who trained him before her demise, Strange goes on to become the Sorcerer Supreme himself.
Release Date October 25, 2016 Cast Tilda Swinton , Benedict Wong , Michael Stuhlbarg , Mads Mikkelsen , Scott Adkins , Benedict Cumberbatch , Rachel McAdams , Chiwetel Ejiofor Sequel(s) Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness , Doctor Strange 3 Upcoming Marvel Movies
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