Suicide Squad vs. Doctor Strange
Marvel versus DC. It seems like the two foes have always been battling for fans' approval of one over the other and now the time has come to compare the most recent DC Extended Universe and Marvel Cinematic Universe films, Suicide Squad and Doctor Strange.
The DCEU has become known for making comic book movies with an edgier approach than the MCU, which centers on a more fun and family-friendly format.
And, in classic DCEU style, Suicide Squad is definitely a risk-taker; it’s a movie about villains - most of Batman’s villains - sent out on ‘suicide missions’ and will take the fall if anything goes wrong. Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller places the cherry on top by having bombs implanted in their heads to use as ‘motivation.' Don’t let Amanda Waller fool you, she’s a villain in her own right, too.
Suicide Squad was an opportunity for the DCEU to introduce audiences to their villains without having to crank out origin story after origin story like Marvel has done with films such as Captain America and Thor. The DCEU rushed right into team movies without really setting the groundwork first.
The ad campaign for Suicide Squad got people excited with a set of mostly unknown characters. The scenes of the beloved Joker and Harley Quinn were used to advertise the movie.
Yet, Jared Leto’s rendition of the Joker cannot really be appreciated because so many of his scenes with Harley Quinn were cut, leading to the film's major problem: structure. The narrative structure of Suicide Squad is practically nonexistent; the movie never really flows, it just jumps from one scene to another with half-constructed origin stories that are jam-packed into one movie.
The Enchantress, the villain played by Cara Delevingne, is not really compelling plus it’s absolutely ridiculous how she is defeated when most of the Suicide Squad members, excluding El Diablo, have no special powers.
Now, Suicide Squad does have its strengths. Margot Robbie and Viola Davis as Harley Quinn and Amanda Waller, respectively, definitely have the best portrayals of their characters. Additionally, the music in Suicide Squad is amazing and there are some small moments of humor, mostly coming from Will Smith’s Deadshot and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. Yet, overall, it really missed its mark, having obvious problems that cannot be ignored.
Now on to Doctor Strange -- probably the exact foil of Suicide Squad. Its ads were not really spectacular and there was no real buzz around Doctor Strange except that it is a Marvel movie. Sometimes, that’s all someone needs to see it.
Doctor Strange tells the story of Dr. Stephen Strange, an arrogant neurosurgeon who loses the use of his hands in a car accident and journeys to the ends of the earth for a cure, discovering instead the world of magic and alternate dimensions.
Doctor Strange turned out to be a very intellectual movie that offers a compelling message about changing your ways and opening your mind to new ideas to possibly achieve something unimaginable.
Dr. Strange goes from only caring about himself to being willing to sacrifice himself for others. The movie's writing coupled with the performance of Benedict Cumberbatch made us feel for Dr. Strange and his tragic situation. Fans could not have asked for anyone better to portray this character. Also, when Dr. Strange appears on screen in his traditional garb, cape and all, any fan would really geek out. But at the same time, the movie doesn’t make non-comic book readers feel left out, it’s just a really awesome moment in the film.
Still, something that must be addressed is the 'white-washing' of "The Ancient One," a Tibetan man in the Doctor Strange comic. In the movie, the character is played by British actress Tilda Swinton. Swinton does a great job; it’s just unfortunate that this has become another ‘whitewashing’ situation. But, it does imply that anyone can be The Ancient One, the Sorcerer Supreme, as stated in the movie.
Doctor Strange offers magic, magic, and more magic; a great part of the movie is that the practice of magic is compared to becoming a doctor - just a lot of “study and practice,” as Dr. Strange himself puts it. In the world of the MCU, anyone can become a sorcerer.
Doctor Strange definitely deserves to be viewed in IMAX 3D; the visuals in the movie are amazing and the movie was made to be seen this way—and again, the magic.
Now, to address the dreaded topic for any MCU fan -- the villain. Marvel has a penchant for having weak, forgettable villains throughout the years. Here, Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius does offer some compelling views in contrast to The Ancient One’s beliefs and he was a formidable opponent. He’s not a weak villain, but he still could have been developed a bit more.
Ultimately, in the battle of DCEU and MCU, Doctor Strange must be declared the winner. While both are fun movies, Doctor Strange is a more fleshed-out origin story with better narrative and character development than Suicide Squad. Doctor Strange also offers an intelligent, fascinating message not usually seen in a comic book movie. And also, the magic.