Once upon a time Marvel produced a series of direct-to-DVD animated features that were, at the time, the only way we’d see some of these characters and stories off the comic book page. Now, with Marvel movies dominating the globe, I’m sure even Squirrel Girl will be featured at some point. Though many of their animated offerings pale in comparison to today, these 20-ought movies were a lot of fun. Chief among them, Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme.
Released via Lionsgate, this is an origin tale for Doctor Strange. While his ascension from pompous surgeon to Sorcerer Supreme is well known to many, it was still portrayed well, with a few new wrinkles added. Strange was a well known brain surgeon whose hands were crippled after a car accident. Spending his fortune, he traveled the globe looking for a way to repair them. His funds spent, he finds himself in Tibet, where he discovers an ancient monastery, and learns enlightenment under the tutelage of the Ancient One. Meanwhile, the evil demon Dormammu is trying to break free of his bonds, and find his way to earth.
In this, Strange is shown to have a sister, suffering from brain aneurysms, who dies on his operating table. This new element added a little bit to the doctor, which balanced out against his ruthlessness with patients, searching only for money or glory. The first act did a good job setting up the character, and putting him in front of the Ancient One. The second and third act though, oddly shifted focus, never really returning to the focal point, the Strange.
Dormammu’s forces have been invading earth, and a team of the Ancient One’s magic ninja warriors, which include Mordo, Wong, Irish guy, girl twins, punk girl, and shirtless guy, fight these monsters. The second act focused on them, leaving Strange on the sideline. The battles were entertaining enough, it just seemed odd that the titular character was almost forgotten. The third act brought him back, but there seemed to be a missed step or two. Time wasn’t properly conveyed during his training, so he seemed like he learned magic (which we didn’t really seem him do more than once), too quickly. Not a negative, just oddly paced.
The animation was well done, with the fights having an anime flare and choreography to them. Early scenes showing cars did the sadly still in vogue now. Thankfully, this wasn’t used much beyond that. Bryce Johnson voiced Doctor Strange, with Kevin Michael Richardson as Mordo. Richardson stood out a little, but that’s only because he’s naturally modulated.
Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme is a great movie that doesn’t have a reason to exist. While it will most certainly be forgotten after the Marvel movie, that doesn’t mean fans can’t dig into now. It’s streaming on Netflix.
Think Strange was sidelined for the last half? Looking forward to a live-action Strange? Comment below!