Comic Book Movie
Meet neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange. He is as egocentric as any politician, yet as clever at his job as any detective. The well-acclaimed British actor Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, Sherlock) takes the stage in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to depict one of the cleverest caped crusaders within the franchise. He is certainly a delight as always, but it’s the unusual approach to Doctor Strange that may either paralyze you with amazement or scare you away.
His life at this point is pretty normal: go to work, save a life, have a fight with his nagging coworker/girlfriend played by Academy Award nominee Rachel McAdams (Midnight in Paris, Spotlight), cherry pick the patients he wishes to save, and gloat about the spectacular perfection that is his life. That is, until an uncalled for car crash leaves his hands paralyzed with severe nerve damage.
…Which leads him to Nepal, where an Ancient One is said to be there with knowledge of spiritual healing. It’s not in his comfort zone but hey? What has he got to lose?
So he goes under spiritual training by a cult, receiving far more than he bargained for. Next thing he knows, he is dawned with the abilities to remove his spirit from his material body, create portals in midair, and fly with the powers of a levitating cape, and all in an effort to save the world from an outer demon.
My biggest problem with this highly entertaining (and funny) addition to the MCU is its swaying away from the familiar gadgets and aliens of the previous films and more into an out-of-place exploration of man’s relationship with the occult. It’s not odd to say, especially considering that they do not do a very good job at portraying it.
Normally, if there was a cult such as this one who depend on old spiritual tradition, why are they of all different races around the world? We have one White woman, one Black man, and one Asian, and several others who are from places I cannot possibly pinpoint. It may not matter to you, but this really hurts the film’s believability.
Although I do give director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) credit for telling the story as if it were a real Buddhist or Hindu legend, while at the same time a part of our own modern culture. He does this best through the most obvious yet brilliantly executed way of combining the two: colorful trips through the spiritual universe that wows you off guard, especially when viewed behind 3-D glasses. While not in the infinite realms of the nonmaterialistic universe, Dr. Strange and his comrades fight against the assassins of time and space through showcases of city environments spinning and losing form within itself, as if you’re watching Inception though a kaleidoscope.
Older traditions of Hindu training are also exploited here in the same fashion done by The Matrix: Dr. Strange is thrown to the top of Mt. Everest to test how quickly he can form a portal back to base. It would generate shrieks of joy from all anime fans, but it later turns out to be a missed chance of character development, which leads into this film’s biggest problem…
With something as controversial and delicate as occult practices driving the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I doubt there could be a reasonable way to do something like this under Marvel’s wing perfectly. I do appreciate the risks that they have been taking to be different with each of their films (just compare and contrast Guardians of the Galaxy with Captain America: Civil War for a minute). But frankly, some risks are not worth taking. It was worth it to create the mind-bending kaleidoscopic fight sequences, but when Marvel’s name is attached, I do not believe that it would help with their branding.
Dr. Strange is that type of movie that loves to gleam with its visuals. The trailers are especially evidence of flaunting what makes this film in particular stand out from the others within the MCU. It’s the type of visual treatment that not only captures the attention of moviegoers everywhere, but also resonates with the autistic imagination of what goes on inside their head.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #14: Their Imagination is Over the Top.
I describe my imagination in this lesson like this: “a grapefruit peels open and a hybrid giraffe-bat comes out and sings Mary Had a Little Lamb in Chinese.” I will admit that at the time I wrote this, I was exaggerating quite a bit about how my mind works. But it offers the needed illustration to the bounds that my mind can stretch. If I am simply walking down the street, I can imagine seeing certain people, characters, or animals walking by, and I would act as if they were really there.
Take that and put it in context of what you have seen in the Dr. Strange trailers (or the movie if you’ve already seen it): lots of building breaking form, spinning on themselves, breaking dimension, reversing their action, challenging the laws of physics and time, all of these things are everyday lenses the autistic mind looks at the world.
Yet, it’s not true in every case. Just like how everybody is known to look at the world differently, the same applies to the autistic mind. One person on the spectrum may look at the world as if in another dimension, another may look at matter simply as it is. There is no one way to pinpoint how one with autism looks at the world.
So what does that mean to you?
When it’s easy to distort reality with your eyes and mind, it becomes easy to feel overstimulated by it all. Autism already causes extreme sensitivity to touch, sight, sound, taste, and smell, so imagine how much more so it could feel to somebody on the spectrum when they look at the world like a Picasso painting?
It can cause all sorts of things on a daily basis: hyperventilating, dizziness, drowsiness, shaking, and extreme stress. Usually, these symptoms can be calmed by simply going into a much quieter place free of distractions, but it often can require a bit more effort than that.
There is an invention known as the “hug machine,” which is designed to relieve stress through compression of the body in the same way a human hug would. It’s specific for individuals with autism who need that comfort of a hug to calm down, but at the same time can’t stand to be touched by another person.
That’s just one of the many ways one with autism can handle the overstimulation of the unique way he looks at the world. Yet there are plenty more that can fit the specific challenge that you may have with your autistic child.
- Know that this peculiar way that autistic people look at the world is not something to frown upon. It in fact can provide tremendous benefit, especially for employers, as it means they have a much sharper attention to detail.
- Keep exploring different methods that help you best as an aspie in managing overstimulation from the outside world. It could be through the examples I listed, or it could be through something you discover on your own.
- Do what you can to make your home “autism-friendly.” This can mean removing bright lights, or turning down the sound on all your equipment, or only feeding your child certain foods. Again, it’s different in every case, it’s all about what works best for you.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Doctor Strange. Marvel. Web. <http://marvel.com/doctorstrange>.
NICKDOLL. DR. STRANGE Trailer #2: Marvel Drops Acid and Looks Through a Kaleidoscope! Digital image. Breaking Geek. Publisher, 23 Jul 2016. Web. <https://breakinggeek.com/2016/07/23/dr-strange-trailer-2-marvel-drops-acid-and-looks-through-a-kaleidoscope/>.