"Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all." - The Ancient One "Which is?" - Dr. Strange
"It's not about you." - The Ancient One
Dr. Strange takes us in a different direction for the Marvel Cinematic Universe than we have been in before, but yet still has the same origin story formula that has been used in prior movies. The difference is that with previous Avenger characters, such as Iron Man, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow etc., these mortals become superheroes based on their human abilities, as well as with their technology that they are able to create. Even to some degree, Spider-Man, Captain American, and Hulk, are the result of bio-technology that has been created by other men.
Dr. Strange takes a different route, one that doesn't involve mortal technology, and is closer to Thor than any of the other Avengers. While using what could be considered magic, Dr. Stephen Strange is able to harness energy and power from other dimensions. The movie does an acceptable job of explaining what this power is and where it comes from. This explanation lends itself to a more pragmatic practice, than a magical practice.
Cinematically, it takes a different route as well, visually I would best describe it as Inception combined with The Matrix. The chase and fight scenes that take place throughout the film are amazing and fun to watch!
As Strange studies and learns more from the magical tomes of The Ancient One, he is able to gain the knowledge needed to use the magic to access other dimensions as well as the astral (spiritual) plane. This area is one that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) hasn't covered before. Opening this door allows for a whole new branch of stories. I think that this possiblity of alternate dimensions combined with the storylines of Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy will keep the MCU fresh and provide many opportunities for different types of antagonists for the heroes to battle with.
SPECIFIC SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT
As a movie, Dr. Strange hits all the marks that you would expect from a Marvel Universe movie. It was funny, emotional, engaging, action packed, and furthered the overall storyline of the MCU. (Dr. Strange is considered Chapter 2 of Phase 3) I believe the most important reveal in this movie is the revelation of and the inclusion of the last Infinity Stone - the Time Stone, that is embedded in the Eye of Agamoto. This Stone allows for Dr. Strange to manipulate time throughout the film as he faces off against the villains.
So far we have five of the six Infinity Stones that have been revealed: the Space Stone (the Tesseract from Captain America: The First Avenger), the Reality Stone (the Aether from Thor: The Dark World), the Power Stone (the Orb from Guardians of the Galaxy) and the Mind Stone (Loki's scepter/Vision's power source from The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron). The one remaining Infinity Stone that is yet to be revealed is the Soul Stone.
These stones are what eventually Thanos uses to attempt a takeover of the Universe, a conflict that is slowly arriving and will be shown in The Avengers: Infinity War. Before then, we'll see Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 in May 2017, then Spider-Man: Homecoming in July 2017, then Thor: Ragnorak in November 2017. While the Soul Stone will most likely be revealed in one of these movies (probably in Thor: Ragnarok), I'm curious to see how these three movies will play into the overall story.
Dr. Strange adds more great characters to the MCU, and with the mid-credit scene, we see that at the very least, Strange and Thor will be teaming up in the near future. Rumors are out that Strange, Thor, and The Hulk will be featured heavily in Thor: Ragnarok (Thor 3). It's a small step from there until Strange is featured in the next The Avengers movie.
This Dr. Strange movie is a step in the MCU and while it is great as a standalone movie, this movie is definitely a set up for future Marvel stories. With Strange learning how to use his power and mastering his arrogance, he was then able to defeat Dormammu and become the next Sorcerer Supreme.This story sets him up for future MCU movies as described previously, as well as a sequel, with Mordo being the next villain. In the comics, Mordo, aka Baron Mordo, is a major villain for Dr. Strange. In this film Mordo becomes disenfranchised from the path he was on with Dr. Strange and with the action he took against Pangborn, in the end credits scene, Mordo will definitely be a thorn in Strange's side for any future stories.
I enjoyed Dr. Strange and felt that it was well directed and was a great origin story for a character not too well known in the general public's eye. Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelson, and Chiwetel Ejiofor were great in this movie. Now, Tilda Swinton. She did a great job as The Ancient One, and her performance was well done. It was just weird seeing her as a bald woman. I was constantly distracted by her bald head. Now this is coming from a bald person, so I can relate to the baldness. But some people (man or woman) just have strangely shaped bald heads, and she came across as one of those persons (as far as I know she isn't bald in real life and it was a makeup job), so maybe my criticism should be against the make up person. I don't think that it matters if The Ancient One was Asian or not, I applaud the decision to make The Ancient One a female, and like I said, Ms. Swinson was great in the role.
I recommend watching this movie and buying it when it comes out on blu-ray. I hope you enjoy watching it and piecing it in to the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe storyline as much as I did.