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Doctor Strange Is the Selfless Superhero America Needs Right Now

We often talk about villains here on BD, but let’s shine the spotlight on a hero.

Why? Simply put, we need one.

On the morning of November 9th, 2016, America changed. We can’t yet be 100% sure if it’s for the better or the worse, and at this moment in time, we really have no idea at all what to expect from a Donald Trump-run America. But needless to say, things aren’t looking very bright. Millions of Americans are worried. They’re scared.  They feel that the wrong choice, if there even was a right choice, was made. The country feels darker this week than it was at the start of last week, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve been seeking comfort, as I always do, at my local movie theater.

Inside the theater, the real world washes away and fictional, oftentimes magical experiences take its place. The movie theater invites men, women, and children of all sexes, races, and political beliefs to gather together in a dark room and, if only for two hours at a time, feel unified by the power of cinema. But as much escapism as they provide, movies aren’t all distraction. Some of them, like Arrival, can teach us a thing or two about ourselves; the incredible sci-fi film ponders an alternate reality wherein all of us, literally all of us, communicate and deal with world problems together, as one powerful force. The message of Denis Villeneuve’s latest is a timely one here in the present, and so too is the message of another film dominating the box office at the moment: Marvel’s Doctor Strange.

In the first act of the Scott Derrickson-directed hit, title character Stephen Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) isn’t exactly painted as the most likeable hero we’ve met in the Marvel Universe. A surgeon who’s as self absorbed as he is brilliant at his job, Strange is the kind of guy who’s 100% sure that his shit don’t stink, and in many ways, he’s the perfect representation of the privileged white man in America. He (dangerously) drives a ridiculously fancy car, doesn’t seem to care about anyone but himself, and when he’s presented with the option of helping others with his expertise, he’s only really interested in the cases that personally amuse him. The accident that results in him becoming a superhero, well, it’s one that is directly caused by his lack of consideration for the world around him.

At the very least, Strange is initially the kind of guy you’d expect would vote for Donald Trump.

But the most compelling thing about Doctor Strange, brilliant visual effects aside, is the character arc that plays out in the wake of Strange’s debilitating car accident. Despite his own unwillingness to change, the once-selfish man has, by the end of the movie, become perhaps the most selfless superhero we’ve yet seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, Doctor Strange is another superhero origin story, and no, that’s not something that any of us can really relate to on a personal level; but at its core, the film is just as much the story of a man becoming a better man. And the message is crystal clear: We all need to start putting others above ourselves.

In the epic finale of Doctor Strange, the good doctor finally makes a decision that he was presented with earlier in the film. He’s told by the Ancient One that he can use his newfound, mystical powers to help others or, if he chooses, he can use them to heal himself and return to his old life of being one of the best surgeons in the world. While Strange’s whole reason for trekking to Kamar-Taj was to heal himself, he eventually decides to put the greater good ahead of himself.

Once Dormammu’s destruction of Earth begins, Strange uses his powers to trap the villain in an infinite time loop inside the Dark Dimension: with Dormammu trapped in that single moment forever, he cannot carry out his complete destruction of the planet. And the heroic act comes at a huge price to Strange himself: in addition to trapping himself in the unpleasant moment, he also resigns himself to a fate of quite literally being brutally murdered over and over again, in increasingly creative ways, for the rest of time.

It doesn’t get much more selfless than that.

Ultimately, at the promise of the loop being broken, Dormammu agrees to leave Earth. By putting himself directly in the line of fire, Doctor Strange has saved the entire planet. He has cast aside his own privileged life because he has finally seen the bigger picture. It’s not about him.

It’s about EVERYONE.

What can those of us who aren’t superheroes with special powers learn from Doctor Strange? The same thing Strange himself learned, of course. The decisions we make must not always be motivated by selfish desires, and that’s a message that needs to be heard loud and clear in America RIGHT NOW, more than ever. The reality is that a lot of people in this country voted this year on the candidate who seemed to have THEIR best interests in mind, in the process completely ignoring the millions upon millions of Americans whose lives have directly been made a whole lot less pleasant as a result. As humans often do, far too many of us put our needs and desires above the safety and well-being of others, and what Doctor Strange stresses is that this way of thinking, well, it has the power to destroy the world.

But like Stephen Strange, we also wield the power to save it. We must use it wisely.

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COMMENTS

32 Comments
  • Hmmmm

  • Matt

    Very interesting and thought-provoking piece John. You clearly put a lot of your own thought and effort into writing this, and for that, I thank you.

    • John Squires

      Thank you for reading, Matt!

    • Creepshow

      It smells like sex in here.

      • Matt

        That’s probably just your breath blowing back in your face.

        • Creepshow

          Aw cripes. Now it stinks like 80’s comebacks. P U

          • Matt

            You’re going to say “cripes” and talk to me about dated comments? Please.

          • Creepshow

            *sprays Glade*

  • Mamet006

    People already go to movie sites to get away from politics. Not have the reminder of ‘hey politics….now here is something to ease the pain of them.’

    And everyone is going to be fine. Everyone acting like they are in danger because of Trump. What the heck is gonna happen? We’re all gonna be fine. As if Clinton was some sort of progress. We are not in dark times. We are in the greatest time to be alive ever.

    • Geno1987

      Yes, a time where neo-nazis, white supremacy, and hatred have united together under one flag. Let the good times roll.

      • Mamet006

        Yeah, it really is Nazi Germany outside. You poor soul.

        • Geno1987

          You just keep ignoring that problem then. I’m sure it will go away.

          • Mamet006

            And what problem is it that we have? Or is this going to be the game of ‘oh you don’t know the problem? Then you’re part of the problem’?

          • Geno1987

            Well, its only been a few days since his win and their have already been a huge spike in hate crimes against muslims that have surpassed that of the aftermath of 9/11. And yes, those doing the crimes are proudly brandishing Trump’s name while doing it. This is only the beginning.

          • Mamet006

            There have been reports of hate crimes. Has anyone been arrested? No. Anyone can write anything on a wall. Including sore losers ready to make the other side look bad. So considering there have been more revelations of people faking hate crimes, I’m going with that.

          • Geno1987

            That’s a bold claim to say nobody has been arrested. There actually have been. Also, by your claim this is actually one elaborate conspiracy cooked up by the losing side than an actual thing taking place? I would get a reality check and look at what is happening to your country. It may not last 4 years at this rate.

          • Mamet006

            Well looking at the reality of proven false claims of hate crimes, it’s not a conspiracy theory.

    • chris martinez

      We are in the greatest time to be alive ever if you are a hetero white male*….fixed it for ya.

      • Mamet006

        And what time was better than now for minorities? Please do answer.

  • ExoMummy

    I still haven’t been able to see this film yet, but one thing I notice in the reviews are that nobody talks about the horror element. I loved the old Steve Englhart series from the 70s as well as all of the Marvel Horror stuff like Tomb of Dracula and Ghost Rider. But nothing in the trailers or commercials seem to indicate that the film has that feel to it. In fact, it looks very Inception-like and too superhero-like. I won’t judge it until I see it, but is it faithful to the old horror comics?

    • John Squires

      Wouldn’t exactly say there’s much horror in the movie, but it is the only superhero movie I’ve ever seen that begins with a beheading!

      • ExoMummy

        Huh… you definitely don’t see that in a superhero movie too often! Interesting. I’ll have to check it out soon. Hopefully though they do get him closer to his roots as a marvel horror character

  • thedragon803

    Actually, John, when I decided to vote for Trump, I actually was thinking of others. Not just my family and friends who deserve to live their lives in peace and safety, but people whom I’ve never met:

    Kathryn Steinle, who will never get to see Doctor Strange because she was shot by a five-times deported illegal immigrant in “sanctuary city” San Francisco.

    Kayla Mueller, a humanitarian aid worker who will never get to see Doctor Strange because she was kidnapped, raped, and killed by ISIS.

    Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Dohert – who will never get to see Doctor Strange because they were abandoned in Benghazi because fighting back against radical Islamists trying to kill our people isn’t very PC – but “what difference does it make?”

    I voted for Trump, and anyone who doesn’t like it can go fuck themselves. Go back to your safe space and leave the fucking politics out of it. I came here for news on movies, music and games. Not a lecture on how I voted.

    • Bla Blah

      Well you don’t have to take it as a lecture on how you voted, you could have just read the article and continued on with your life instead of getting your knickers in a twist about the viewpoint of another. That may have helped. You voted, congrats. People don’t like the guy you voted for. Congrats. People don’t have to walk a line for your feelings.

      • thedragon803

        “People don’t have to walk a line for your feelings.”

        Tell that to the cunts burning shit down and assaulting people because Hillary lost.

        • Bla Blah

          Okay, should I also report the message to the ones who marched with lynched black figures over Obama’s presidency. Twice. Should I report it to the ones who attacked black people at Trump rallies or the ones who gave rise to heightened hate crimes against muslims and latinos in the wake of Trump’s campaign? Should I relate the message to the two separate groups of republican men who were arrested in attempts to bomb voters. Or the Trump supporter who shot two cops? Or the Trump supporting military dude who attacked a black woman at a rally? Or the trump supporters who attacked an elderly woman? Or the trump supporters who beat up a homeless man almost to death. I mean, I think they should get the message too, personally.

  • Vincent Kane

    “At the very least, Strange is initially the kind of guy you’d expect would vote for Donald Trump.”

    I thought only uneducated white guys would vote for Trump?

    • John Squires

      Not something I ever personally suggested.

      • Vincent Kane

        Haha. Not saying you did. Just thought it was funny.

  • Erik The Red

    I know this a horror site, but there is no need to mention President Pussy Grabber. It’s bad enough the news media has been all on his dick for the past year. This is where I go to not read about that orange fuck.

  • Chuckie

    This is beautiful. Thank you Bloody-Disgusting for doing this. As a gay man I have never been so fearful over an election. Trump and Pence represent the very worst in anti-lgbtq rhetoric. I came home after the result to see my mom crying in bed because she couldn’t believe a candidate that was spewing such sexist and misogynistic words towards women, be elected as president. I went to school the next day and my muslim friend was afraid to wear her hijab in fear of people mocking and abusing her. My latino/Latina friends were fearful of the hate that was spewed at their community. My Black friends were afraid that this was just another example of white nationalist/Whitelash (Which in reality it is. Im looking at you Stephen Bannon!!!). This election and presidential win has brought out the very worst in our country. I was never a Hillary supporter, I thought she represented the corruption and the status quo I hoped our country would break free of. But Trump is that status quo with more hate, bigotry, and sexism added to the mix. He fed into these people fears of muslims, immigrants, and hate and exploited to get elected. He is just another corrupt big shot that will get rich of this presidency. I ache for my country and I want to do all I can to help the people that will be affected by this. Just like Doctor Strange, I know salvation and redemption comes when give selfless of myself and help others. That is where I am going to gain hope and serenity, by showing kindness, empathy, and love to the people that are suffering. Empathy, along with education, is key in combating this travesty. Thank you Bloody-Disgusting

    • FOXCYBORGNINJA

      Chuckie Iam not an American but as a citizen of this small green and blue planet in a infinite sea of possible darkness.

      In any situation All you can do is walk up straight look people in the eyes and believe that their are good kind people in this world that are trying their best to leave this world the way it is future generations.

      I wouldn’t say Iam religious or spiritual person but I believe in doing things to help people.

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