Friday, November 25, 2016

Doctor Strange & The Mystery of the Swole Spellcaster

Yesterday at about this time I sat in a theater next to my sister watching Doctor Strange. (Rather nice place too, with reclining chairs and cupholders.) Trips to the movies are a thing my folks and I do for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and my sister and I like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so this was a no-brainer.

First, the stuff you expect: Yes, this film was worth seeing. Yes, it was fun. Yes, it had those pulp sensibilities in it that made the MCU to date so good. Strange is a flawed man, but still a good one. Good is not dumb. Evil is not good. If you're at all concerned about this film being utterly pozzed, don't be; it ain't perfect, but it's fine. Yes, stay for both the mid-credits teaser for Thor: Ragnarok and the post-credits teaser for the sequel.

Now, when did wizards also become martial arts masters? Seriously, at times it felt like The Matrix with spells. I'd only ever seen that in Chinese films and some Japanese shows. In the rest of the world, the pursuit of master in one field often precluded the other. I know that changing The Ancient One was politically-motivated to placate mainland China, but was this too a bone thrown for that massive movie market? I don't know, but since I know no other cultural tradition where casting spells and cutting fools are part-and-parcel of practicing magic that's my first guess. I could be wrong.

Not that I find it a bad idea; physically fit people routinely exhibit better cognitive performance, so a fictional group working in a difficult and demanding discipline adopting such a blended practice does hold up to scrutiny, so it's not an objection as such. It's curiosity as to why to overturn such a long-established trope of Magician-as-Frail-Non-Combatant.

So, have it. If you have the answer, comment below.

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