Hello, my friends. Not willing to wait months before its return, I once again welcome you to another entry in the series known as…
So far in this series, we’ve had Earth’s Mightiest Heroes defeat a hostile alien race over the course of two films while the Armored Avenger came into his own while battling an ancient foe from overseas. With Benedict Cumberbatch set to play a certain magical superhero for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the timing seems right for us to look over his animated outing called…
Originally released on August 14, 2007, this marks the second film in the short-lived series to focus on one particular hero. What mystical thrills await us? Let’s dive in and find out.
We open within the sewers of New York City where a pair of technicians are running for their lives, since something is pursuing them. One of them gets captured fairly quickly while the other manages to climb back towards the surface and notify the third technician before getting captured himself. Fortunately, the remaining worker is able to escape.
Meanwhile, five figures stand by preparing for the oncoming threat. They proceed to use their amulets which makes the otherworldly creature appear in plain sight.
From there, they proceed to engage the being using their various attacks and spells. The man in the green robe named Mordo (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) manages to slice off the beast’s tail before it takes off through an alley. While the rest of the sorcerers immediately give chase, the man in the black robe named Wong (voiced by Paul Nakauchi) casts a spell which covers the monster within a massive tornado before he joins the pursuit.
The attack begins to ravage through the surrounding populated area as citizens run for their lives while cars are getting tossed around from the violent winds. The tornado then heads past one particular car carrying Dr. Stephen Strange (voiced by Bryce Johnson) who manages to see the creature and the sorcerers through the violent winds. As it crosses his path, he slams on his brakes before he stops in front of an empty lot.
The fight ultimately makes its way into the area as the creature tries to climb up the walls. Fortunately, a younger sorceress named Lucy conjures up a pair of magical ropes to grab onto its hind legs. From there, Wong manages to slice those limbs off. As the creature loses its grip, Mordo plunges his sword into its chest as it hits the ground and vanishes in defeat. A concerned Wong tells him that prior to this encounter, no beast had ever come dangerously close to “The Sanctum”. However, Mordo is just satisfied that they took care of the creature as they make themselves disappear. Stunned by what he just saw, Stephen drives away in his car. From there, the scene ends with the sorcerers minus Mordo realizing that he saw them through Wong’s spell.
Following the opening credits, we cut to Wellhaven Hospital where Stephen is walking towards his office. Suddenly, he’s approached by a aide named Cory who wants him to look over some patient files. However, Stephen says that he’s only hear to do some rounds. Cory proceeds to tell him about a referred woman named Ms. Latansie who’s suffering from acute aphasia, migraines and facial nerve paralysis. However, she doesn’t have proper medical insurance and only has a moderately low income. Those two things immediately turns Stephen off from looking over her case as he heads into his office.
After arriving at his desk, he quickly looks at a particular picture before he’s confronted by the hospital administrator named Oliver (voiced by Fred Tatasciore). He tells Stephen that the senior staff is having fits with his attitude and in particular, Dr. Atwater. It turns out that she’s been asking him to the coma ward for some consults, but Stephen keeps ignoring them. Since the complaints have finally reached Oliver, he tells Stephen to pay her a visit immediately.
A short time later, Stephen has made his way down to the coma ward and meets up with Dr. Gina Atwater (voiced by Susan Spano). Even though she’s fully aware of Stephen’s refusal to look at special cases involving children, she assures him that this one is important. It turns out that it involves a 12-year-old girl named Camille who’s currently in a coma. Stephen learns that prior to slipping into her current state, she had a series of nightmares. Gina then shows a pair of brain scans where Camille has developed an unusual number of embolisms over the course of a week. Stephen is then shown that this isn’t the first time that Gina has come across this bizarre condition since dozens of children are lying in comas and suffering the same way.
As Stephen continues to examine her, Camille suddenly wakes up and grabs onto his shoulder. He then has a vision of fire where a terrifying face emerges from the blaze before the child falls back into her coma. Stephen then asks what Camille saw in her nightmares, to which Gina says that it was always a burning face.
Freaked out by what just happened, Stephen storms out of the coma ward. Gina follows suit and berates him for not even bothering to help out the numerous children. Tired of Wellhaven seemingly feeding his “monster ego”, she challenges him to “start giving back”. Just as Stephen reaches the elevator, Camille’s mother arrives and begs him to help her daughter. However, he says that he can’t before he takes off to leave the mother in hopeless distraught.
After arriving back in his office, Stephen once again looks at a particular photo on his desk. From there, we flashback to several years ago where we meet his younger sister named April Strange (voiced by Tara Strong). After putting on some lipstick, Stephen enters and teases her by applying even more of it onto her face.
April manages to catch up and tackle him in joyful delight. As she pins Stephen down and playfully punches him, the scene ends when she’s suddenly overcome by an intense wave of pain in her head.
Back in the present, Stephen takes his leave as he drives off. During his ride, the radio news report mentions about three tornadoes hitting the city within the span of a month. As he heads into a tunnel, the clock turns midnight as the radio frequency starts to fade. All of a sudden, Stephen sees a raging fire coming up fast from his rear-view mirror. Upon seeing the same hideous face from the vision, he slams on his brakes. However, he starts spinning violently out of control. His car then approaches pale figures that turn out to be children. He ends up spinning right through them, only they were ghost-like entities.
From there, Stephen completely loses control as his car plows through a guard rail and flies off a cliff. The vehicle then smashes down the hillside as the airbags deploy. With the metal frame left in a twisted wreak, the remaining car finally rests at the bottom of the cliff as Stephen blacks out.
We then cut to the hospital where Stephen is lying in bed while Gina looks over his charts. He wants to know if he accidentally hit any of the children he saw on the road, but she says that weren’t any kids and that witnesses only saw him lose control. He learns that its been three days since the incident and that he’s been under the whole time. However, Stephen notices that his hands have been greatly bandaged. After he sees his charts, he discovers that they’ve been damaged enough to the point where he can no longer perform surgical procedures. Despite Gina telling him that he’s still a doctor and that there’s more than one way to heal people, Stephen wishes to be left alone. The scene then ends when she bumps into Wong before he takes his leave.
Eventually, Stephen is released from the hospital and returns to his fancy apartment building. Despite initially refusing help from the doorman, his weakened hands are unable to do the simple task of unlocking his front door. After the doorman helps him into his apartment, Stephen later tries to shave his face. However, he’s unable to properly hold a razor blade as he continues to grow frustrated. The next day, he calls Oliver and asks if there’s anyone who can help in getting proper treatment for his hands. The hospital administrator tells him of a doctor in Berlin and suggests that he tries him out first.
From there, we enter a quick montage of Stephen’s quest to heal his hands. He travels to various medical facilities around the world and receives numerous amounts of treatments, but none of them are able to fix the physical damage.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the constant travels and procedures manage to financially cripple him as he’s forced to sell off his apartment and his furnishings just to have enough money to survive at a low-rent hotel.
With seemingly no hope remaining and having hit rock bottom, Stephen walks to a bridge, climbs onto the rail and proceeds to jump off in a suicide attempt. However, he suddenly finds himself back on the bridge. Just then, Wong emerges from the fog. After introducing himself and letting Stephen know that he understands his current ordeal, Wong tells him that there is a place for him to heal his hands and it’s in Tibet. When Stephen asks how he’s supposed to get there since he doesn’t have any money, Wong gives him a map and tells him that he has “all that is needed” before disappearing.
Later, Gina has finished her shift at Wellhaven and has arrived back at her car. Suddenly, she’s shocked to find Stephen confronting her. He then tells her that he has to get to Tibet and that he needs her help. Seeing the pity in his eyes and hands, Gina agrees to help finance his trip.
We then cut to Tibet where Stephen is using all of his strength to reach his destination. Even after losing the map due to the fierce mountain winds, he quickly discovers a hidden temple within striking distance. As such, he makes his way towards the shrine where he’s greeted by Wong before being let in. He then leads Stephen to his master known as The Ancient One (voiced by Michael Yama) where they proceed to bow in his presence. Stephen tries asking for a cure to his hands, but the Ancient One tells him via spiritual guidance that the “cure” he seeks is within himself. Thinking that Stephen has made his journey in vein, the Ancient One reveals to him that he’s been magically levitating and tells him that he hasn’t tried “everything” that would help him. Stephen says that he’s more than willing to do so as the Ancient One lets him stay. As such, Wong escorts him to his room which consists of a pile of hay for sleeping purposes before informing Stephen that he’ll begin his work in the morning.
Afterwards, he notices Mordo and their fellow sorcerers heading out to take care of some Shadowhounds. Upon joining them, we then cut to Central Park where they stand by each other in front of a lamppost. Shortly after Wong tells his fellow sorcerers to stay within the light since that’s what Shadowhounds are vulnerable to, they proceed to engage a large pack of otherworldly beasts. However, one of the creatures manages to take out the lamppost as Mordo gives the order to spread out.
Our fellow sorcerers manage to slay many of the Shadowhounds, despite the beasts destroying the various lampposts. However, two of them fall in battle while the remaining group gathers in front of the remaining lamppost. Just then, the light goes out by itself as Wong uses his magic to restore its glow. From there, the scene ends with the sorcerers surrounded and vastly outnumbered by the numerous Shadowhounds.
Back in Tibet, Stephen has awoken and finds a bucket with scrubbing brushes and a rag. He also sees the Ancient One and asks about his work. Stephen finds out that he’s supposed to wash the floors while finding out how to do so with his injured hands. A short time later, Wong and Mordo arrive back with their injured sorcerers as they inform the Ancient One of their losses in battle. He tells his fellow mages that the Shadowhounds are trying to find their master and that Dormammu’s influence is constantly growing. Wong wonders how that could be since the “Dark Dimension” is sealed, to which the Ancient One says that their enemy has found a way that they don’t know about.
After Wong notices his pupil scrubbing the floor thanks to some straps around his hands, Stephen eventually returns to his room to discover the picture of his younger self alongside April. As he drifts off to sleep, we then cut to another flashback where April sits within a waiting room while her brother argues with a doctor about getting her some much-needed surgery. The doctor doesn’t think she’ll survive the procedure, but Stephen will hear none of it. After we find out that they’ve tried and failed to convince three previous doctors, he tells April that they’ll wait six months. By then, he’ll earn his doctorate and he’ll personally take care of her surgery.
From there, we cut to the next day where Stephen is tearing down a wall with a sledgehammer. After that, he gathers the rubble into a pair of pails and disposes of them. Eventually, he manages to remove the entire wall and is rewarded with a blanket in his sleeping quarters. However, he wakes up the next day only to discover that the wall has been rebuilt. After the tedious work takes a frustrating toll on Stephen, he’s confronted by Wong. Stephen is disgruntled as he wonders how this exercise is helping his hands in anyway, since he says that he needs them in order to become a doctor again. However, Wong says that this has never been about his hands and that they’re not needed towards the workings of a doctor. Disheartened, Stephen takes his leave from the temple since he feels like there was never a reason for him to be here. After overseeing this, the Ancient One tells Wong to let him go since he must find it within himself to return. As the blizzard rages, an exhausted Stephen ends up collapsing in the snow and passes out.
From there, we cut to another flashback where Stephen has managed to acquire his doctorate. As such, he’s accompanied by a medical staff as he prepare to give April an operation in order to save her life. However, it turns out that the previous doctor’s warning turned out to be true since she didn’t survive the procedure as a tearful Stephen tears up the room in his grief.
Just then, the Ancient One appears as we find out that this flashback was occurring in a dream. He tells Stephen that this painful moment from his past is what’s making up his personal stone wall. After saying that April was beyond saving and that not every life is “destined to be saved”, Stephen says that he doesn’t believe any of that. The Ancient One tells him that this moment in time is what’s holding him back and that by only accepting the truth will he be able to “break free”. This vision helps Stephen regain his consciousness as he manages to head back to the temple in order to continue his training. The Ancient One wakes up from his visual meditation as Wong oversees Stephen’s return.
From there, Strange resumes his training by tearing down the stone wall. With the Ancient One convinced that he’s ready, Stephen returns to his room to discover a tub full of steaming, hot water. As such, he proceeds to relax and bathe.
Later, the Ancient One senses a disturbance during his meditation. As he walks in, Mordo asks what he’s seeing. It turns out to be a pair of demonic beasts called Chinou and they’re converging on the Sanctum from vastly opposite sides. Mordo says that he’ll assemble two teams so that they can each attack the beasts, but the Ancient One tells him not to do so since it will take their combined efforts just to stop one of them. Shortly upon the sorcerers’ arrival however, Mordo disobeys his orders and tells his fellow sages to split into two teams.
Back in Tibet, Stephen continues to tear down the stone wall. Shortly after the Ancient One arrives, he tells his master that the removal of those stone continues to get tougher every day due to their weight and mass. However, the Ancient One tells him that the stones are only as heavy as he perceives. He demonstrates by picking up the rope with a single hand and pulls the stone-covered platform with ease. Stephen tries to pull the platform while perceiving the stone as weightless and it turns out to work for him.
While conjuring up a sword, the Ancient One explains that sorcery is what allows them to wield the surrounding energy known as Matter to their advantage. After he passes the blade off to Stephen, it vanishes since he didn’t believe that it was actually there. After the Ancient One forms another sword, it uses it to slice the stone apart before throwing it at his pupil. Thankfully, Stephen is able to catch the blade with his hands since he believed it existed in front of him. As such, the Ancient One tells him that as long as he “controls the forces around his hands”, then there’s no such limitation to what he can do. Stephen then notices that the stone wall has disappeared, since he managed to overcome this particular limit. The scene ends with the Ancient One telling him to finally “see what lies beyond”.
Back in New York City, the sorcerers continue their efforts to stop the pair of Chinou from reaching their Sanctum. Over in one group, Wong and Mordo try to attack the creature with their conjured weapons, but its exterior is greatly protected. With seemingly nothing being able to stop the beast’s rampage, a pair of sorceresses named Blue and Demara proceed to combine their magic for a containment spell, which creates a protective circle. However, Wong says that their spell won’t be able to stop it. Despite being told to tell Blue and Demara to get out of the way, Mordo assures him that the containment spell will hold. Just before the Chinou reaches the sorceresses, Mordo conjures up a sword and manages to strike the beast’s exposing flesh. This causes the creature to lose control and slam into the containment spell with enough force to flip it up into the air. However, Blue and Demara end up getting crushed by the beast after their spell gets broken. Either way, the monster lies in defeat before vanishing.
At the same time, two other sorcerers attempt to defeat the remaining Chinou with their containment spells. However, the monstrous beast is able to break free from its magical bonds. Fortunately, they receive some much-needed help as Wong saves them while Mordo slays the creature with a single blow. After they arrive back in Tibet, the Ancient One proceeds to berate Mordo for disobeying his orders. As a result, they lost several of their own sorcerers. He also scolds Mordo for losing sight of their purpose and for only focusing on the fight, since they’re not meant to be warriors. Mordo says that since they’re fighting a war, a warrior should take over for the Ancient One. However, his master tells him that the title of Sorcerer Supreme was never meant for him and it will ultimately go to the one who “does not seek it”. After Mordo learns that he’s ultimately meant to train the eventual Sorcerer Supreme, he grudgingly takes his leave. Afterwards, the scene ends with the Ancient One telling Wong to watch their fellow comrade.
The next day, Mordo begins to train Stephen in sword combat. Things start off seemingly well, but it starts to take a serious turn when Mordo nearly tosses him off a cliff. Fortunately, Stephen manages to hang on and pull himself back up. Before he can get struck by Mordo’s blade, he creates a sword our of air and does more than withstand the strike. He also absorbs the opposing weapon and fires a blast of energy that flings Mordo across the field and into a weapons rack.
Even though Stephen apologizes for his unintended action, Mordo grabs a pair of axes and charges toward him. Just then, Wong arrives and uses his magic to subdue his comrade. Afterwards, he berates Mordo for his actions. Once their fellow mage takes his leave, Wong praises Stephen for absorbing Mordo’s magic and using it against him, since it’s a rare skill among magic-users. After Wong tells Stephen that he’ll take over as his trainer, we then have a quick montage where the two of them practice their hand-to-hand combat skills, in addition to some bo staff training.
That night, Stephen uses his magical skills on a bucket of water. He manages to make some of it float in a way for him to use as a mirror before turning a drop into a razor blade as he proceeds to give himself a shave. Later, he emerges with a new look as the Ancient One receives another vision.
After joining the Ancient One and his fellow sorcerers, Doctor Strange is informed by Wong that everything will be explained when they reach “the city”. To his amazement, he sees his fellow sages walk down a hallway and magically vanish. He proceeds to join them and discovers that their destination was in New York City. Stephen wonders why he couldn’t have just headed towards Tibet through their house in the first place, to which Wong explains that he wouldn’t have been able to prior to his training. As they climb the stairs, the Ancient One says that there’s numerous dimensions on Earth and that their Sanctum Sanctorum is able to access those gateways. Doctor Strange is then amazed by the fact that they have reached a special plane called the Nexus, which is “the center of all dimensions”. As the Ancient One tells him, it’s their duty to defend it from Dormammu at all costs.
Our sorcerers ultimately arrive at the sealed gateway which leads into the dark dimension and the home of Dormammu. Wong explains that their enemy crossed into their realm a long time ago and managed to take control of the Nexus in order to rule throughout every dimension. In the end, the Ancient One stopped his reign of terror and drove Dormammu back to his own realm before sealing the gateway. As for the creatures that he brought over during his invasion, all but one called the Wing Mark had been defeated as it patiently waits for his master to return. Suddenly, Dormammu approaches the barrier before disappering. Doctor Strange tells his fellow sorcerers that he’s seen his face before during his past visit to Wellhaven with the children in mysterious comas. The Ancient One suddenly has a revelation: Due to a child’s pure mind, it allows them to dream into other dimensions. Through this method, Dormammu has found a way to terrorize the real world while he’s still imprisoned. Mordo suggests that they should kill the children before their enemy comes through, but Doctor Strange comes up with a better option. By waking the children up, then Dormammu’s dimensional presence would weaken. As such, the Ancient One and his fellow sorcerers will stay behind to defend the Sanctum Sanctorum while Doctor Strange and Mordo take care of the kids. After they take their leave, the scene ends with the Ancient One giving something special to Wong.
We then cut to the Coma Ward at Wellhaven Hospital where Dr. Gina Atwater is working. Suddenly, she’s surprised to see Stephen again. Before she can do anything else, he waves his hand and uses a spell which puts her to sleep. Doctor Strange then accesses the hospital’s computer system and discovers that numerous hospitals are also carrying children that have entered mysterious comas. As such, he gets to work starting with a familiar girl from before, Camille. His astral form enters Dormammu’s realm as he manages to rescue the young girl and get her back to her body. From there, he proceeds to do the same thing for even more children.
Back at the Sanctum, the Ancient One and his fellow sorcerers stand watch outside of the building. Just then, they spot a large group of Wing Marks fly above the city and make their way towards them.
Back at Wellhaven, Doctor Strange continues to help the children out of their mental imprisonment. Unbeknownst to him, Mordo uses a young boy to enter Dormammu’s realm. Instead of helping the young boy escape, he proceeds to talk to the powerful being. When Dormammu (voiced by Jonathan Adams, who voiced Martian Manhunter in “Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths”) demands to know why he has entered his domain, Mordo says that the Ancient One has turned on him. Even though Dormammu could imprison him, Mordo says that Doctor Strange would just rescue him. As such, the scene ends with Dormammu asking him for his offer.
Following a quick scene where the Wing Marks continue their march towards the Sanctum Sanctorum while devouring several unfortunate humans to the bone…
…we cut back to Wellhaven where Stephen continues to bring more children out of their purgatory. Just then, the children he has yet to get to wake up in a trance and walk out of the room. He tells Mordo that Dormammu is making his next move, but doesn’t get a response. Suddenly, he gets blindsided by an attack that sends him crashing through a wall. It turns out that Mordo has decided to go against his fellow sorcerers and help out in Dormammu’s cause. After he takes his leave, Wong teleports in as it turns out that he has saved Stephen from further harm.
Meanwhile, the Wing Marks arrive at the outskirts of the Sanctum as the Ancient One and his fellow sorcerers attempt to defend their home and by extension, the Nexus. The remaining mages do their best and even manage to take out some of the winged vermin, but the overwhelming creatures ultimately reach them and devour their flesh. Meanwhile, the Ancient One manages to fend off the Wing Marks from eating him. With his fellow pupils having lost their lives, the Ancient One unleashes one final blast of massive magical energy to wipe out every last Wing Mark.
However, the fierce fight drained him of his energy as he collapses onto the ground. Just then, the Ancient One looks up and see his previous ally as Dormammu’s personal lap dog. From there, Mordo delivers the fatal strike onto his former master.
Afterwards, Doctor Strange and Wong return to discover the Sanctum in tact. However, they’re stunned to discover the Ancient One’s deceased corpse. After Stephen reminds him that they must go after Mordo, Wong then gives him a special item worn by his previous master: the Eye of Agamotto. He tells Doctor Strange that with it, he’ll unlock magical powers within him that were once hidden and claim the title of Sorcerer Supreme.
Meanwhile, every last child under Dormammu’s control has arrived at an intersection with Mordo in the middle. Just then, Doctor Strange and Wong magically appear from a nearby alley. Upon seeing Stephen as the newest pocesser of the Eye of Agamotto, Mordo tries to attack him. However, Wong defends the strike as he promises to avenge his fallen master. As such, the two of them engage in weapons combat.
Meanwhile, Doctor Strange approaches the children. With fire coming out of their eyes and noses, they proceed to unleash their flames onto the Sorcerer Supreme. Stephen manages to protect himself with a shield spell when suddenly, their fire attacks head up to the skies as they help release Dormammu from his imprisonment.
Back over with Wong, he continues to have his hands full in his fight. Suddenly, Mordo manages to wound him and causes him to fall. Just as Mordo prepares to finish him off, Doctor Strange comes to his rescue. They proceed to fight before Stephen demonstrates how far he has come in his training and promptly knocks Mordo back.
With his ally failing to stop the Sorcerer Supreme, Dormammu proceeds to pick up Mordo and eats him. He then proceeds to head towards Doctor Strange and Wong, but Stephen uses a shield spell to protect himself and his fellow ally.
However, the impact from the attack has temporarily disorient him as Dormammu manages to steal the Eye of Agamotto and releases his hold on the children before he takes off. From there, Wong tells Stephen to stop him before he accesses the Sanctum.
However, Dormammu manages to reach the Sanctum Sanctorum and unleashes various demonic souls onto the world. Doctor Strange arrives and conjures up a thunderstorm which proceeds to unleash its rain onto his foe. Unfortunately, it only serves as a minor nuisance as Dormammu breaks up the rain clouds before attacking Stephen with numerous fireballs.
Doctor Strange then attacks with a spell that allows him to blow an extremely cold breath at his foe. However, Dormammu uses the Eye of Agamotto to unleash a powerful stream of fire that forces him to shield himself. Unfortunately, the attack overwhelms his force field and starts to cause pain to Stephen. Thankfully, Wong managed to limp his way to the battle site and use his magic to give an important mental message to him. He explains that Dormammu is made from pure magic and that he can use that against him.
As such, Doctor Strange manages to make the Eye of Agamotto return to him and uses it to take Dormammu’s magical prowess from him. With the evil being robbed of his abilities, Dormammu withers away in defeat. Afterwards, Wong approaches Stephen and commends him for his triumph. With Dormammu’s forces scattered, both of them swear to one day defeat them all.
Sometime later, we cut to a picturesque field where Stephen approaches Gina in order to give her some good news. He tells her that he has changed and that he’s ready to “start giving back”. It turns out to be a dream as Gina finally wakes up. In her amazement, she sees that all of the comatose kids are awake as well.
We then cut to a cemetery where Steven visits his sister’s grave, feeling absolute about putting his painful memory behind him and moving on. And so, the film ends with our heroes arriving back at the rebuilt Sanctum Sanctorum as Wong tells Doctor Strange that recruitment has been going well and it includes a young lass named Clea. From there, they step inside as Stephen uses his magic to close the front door.
Now that we’re done with the film recap, it’s time for my character analysis. First in line, we have Wong. He’s a loyal mage whose already mastered his magical powers and has strongly placed himself on the side of protecting the various realms (including his own) from demonic forces like Dormammu. He obviously cares about his fellow sorcerers and would crack a whip at anyone of his allies, especially Stephen, and the closest he ever gets to being angry is when he mildly berates Mordo. Because this is Doctor Strange’s film, we don’t get any backstory on how Wong gets his personality or how he ended up in the Sanctum. Maybe if this movie had a follow-up, those parts of his background could have been explored. For what Paul Nakauchi has to work with, he does a nice job. He makes the character’s calm & cool demeanor not seem bland & monotone and gets plenty to do during the film.
Next up, we have the Ancient One. The all-powerful mage doubles as the all-knowing sage as he nudges Stephen in certain ways in order for his pupil to unlock his full potential. He does scold Mordo for going against his wishes during one of Dormammu’s indirect attempts to attack the Sanctum, but I believe that the reason he doesn’t suspect his growing evil intentions is that his pupils are inherently good and that they can be guided back towards the path of righteousness. A sign should have made itself clear to him when Mordo showed his intention to take over as Sorcerer Supreme, so there’s a fault in his character in not seeing the evil that his mages can possess. Michael Yama does get some good mileage out of this part, bringing the age and wisdom to his voice while the animation shows him as athletic enough to do some impressive feats.
Moving into the realm of villains, we begin with Mordo. His decent towards turning on his fellow sorcerers due to his strict personality as a warrior. Since he’s the only muscle-bound mage of the group, he thinks that the battle strategy of “divide-and-conquer” would be effective against the Chinou when it ends up partially backfiring on him since they lose some of their fellow sorcerers as a result. His descent is complete when his desire to become Sorcerer Supreme is shot down because of said action and that Stephen, whom he hated from the get-go, ended up getting the title since he “didn’t want it”. The grand title of Sorcerer Supreme, I think, can only be grasped if you’re skilled & knowledgeable about the arcane arts and if you’re not expecting to get the ultimate position. Out of those two traits, Mordo definitely fits most of the former and none of the latter. In the end, he seeks the power that comes with being the Sorcerer Supreme and is ultimately defeated due to letting his obsession of claiming said title get the best of him. Kevin Michael Richardson turns in a good performance, as his character is somewhat tragic due to his jealous nature getting the best of him and his voice mainly fits well with Mordo despite a mainly serious tone throughout.
Now, we’ve reached our main villain in Dormammu. Since he’s imprisoned in his own realm throughout the majority of the film, he uses the dreams of children to keep them in comas while their minds become doorways for his numerous creatures to go through in order in increase his influence on the world. There is some background on this character and it fits the job well-enough, not to mention that his minions help him in preventing a larger group of sorcerers from opposing him upon his return, but his defeat is somewhat cheapened when the way he’s defeated is to use the Eye of Agamotto and absorb his pure magic. It ultimately makes since when the Ancient One is taken out of the picture before his return, but it also feels somewhat when an all-powerful being is taken out in a rather simple way. With what little he has to work with, Jonathan Adams is fairly decent. While an audio effect was most likely used to make his voice sound booming and intimidating, he delivers his lines in an effective way. Nothing too memorable, but nothing awful as well.
Finally, we’ve reached the main man himself: Doctor Strange. Starting off as an arrogant and somewhat self-centered surgeon, the car accident forever changed his life. Thanks to Wong and the Ancient One, they find the source of his self-loathing and help him move on by giving him a new cause that he can use with his hands. Despite Mordo’s immediate hatred of him, Stephen doesn’t notice his fellow mage’s descent into villainy until he returns to Wellhaven. To be fair towards that point, he doesn’t see any of the signs that tell him that Mordo is developing an ulterior motive. While in Tibet, he spends lots of time training himself and tries to noodle out his new purpose. His plight can resonate with anyone who’s spent the few decades of their lives perfecting a talent, only for a tragedy to cripple you in a way where you can’t use that skill anymore and have to start over again in order to find something else you can work at. Bryce Johnson turns in a very competent performance, delivering a well-rounded range of emotions and makes his pitch fit well with his scenes.
The animation is very fluent, especially the hand-drawn stuff. People’s motions look smooth, while the mouths match up the dialogue really well. With the CGI bits, it’s OK but stands out somewhat. As far as the action scenes, they’re mainly solid and can be thrilling. The only that holds them back is when it deals with mages that aren’t Doctor Strange, Wong, the Ancient One or Mordo. Don’t get me wrong, they’re competent enough until we reach Central Park when they start get picked off. Also, the dwindling number of allies does make things tougher for our heroes. Outside of having names though, I don’t seem to feel much for them when they’re axed off. Because we deal with Stephen Strange a lot, since it is his film, there wasn’t enough time to flesh them out enough. As far as Dr. Gina Atwater is concerned, her role here is sufficient enough.
Also, I’d be remissed if I didn’t mention a quick nod to another Marvel Comics character. After Stephen Strange finds out that his hands were injured and that he can’t use them as a surgeon again, he asks Gina to be left alone. After she bumps into Wong, he passes by a man named Dr. Donald Blake. For the uninitiated, that happens to be the Earthbound identity of a certain Norse God of Thunder named Thor. Nice!
Overall, this is an enjoyable romp. Stephen’s character arc is gripping enough for us to care about him, his immediate supporting cast gets plenty to do and the action flows really well with the animation. Outside of having a few superfluous supporting characters, there’s not much else I can complain about. It’s a good introduction to the Sorcerer Supreme and it has enough intriguing material to fill up its run time. I recommend you check it out, whether or not you’ve seen Bendict Cumberbatch’s portrayal first.
Next Time: It’s once again time for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to assemble. However, these aren’t exactly the characters that we’ve originally known. Either way, they’re our only hope against a familiar foe. It’s time for the heroes of youth to stand together as we tackle “Next Avengers: Heroes Of Tomorrow”.
Doctor Strange (created by Steve Ditko) is owned by Marvel Comics.