Doctor Strange ★★★★

In Phase One, the MCU introduced us to a lineup of compelling heroes, each with their own unique personalities and skill sets. In Phase Two, they dug deep, finding new and interesting ways to challenge and further their arcs. In focusing on character, producer Kevin Feige ensured that these roles would become iconic, but in the process, allowed other elements to become underdeveloped or repetitive. One in particular being the third act climax. Whether it be evil twins or skybeams or armies of drones, there are patterns that have developed over the MCU's first ten years, often reshuffled but never unrecognizable (notable exceptions include IRON MAN 3 and THOR: THE DARK WORLD, of all movies).

That all changed in Phase Three. Instead of by-the-number finales, we've been treated to some of the most creatively inspired action in recent memory, starting with ANT-MAN (technically Phase Two, but it was released after an AVENGERS movie, so...) where the filmmakers shrunk the action down to a little girl's bedroom, putting a charming spin on the classic train chase. But it was DOCTOR STRANGE that embraced this new objective. Helped by its trippy visuals and time-bending powers, the film takes the traditional third act destruction and plays it in reverse, acting not just as an extension of the lead character's abilities, but as an affirmation of his medical profession. It's a trend that continues today, with THOR: RAGNAROK using the apocalypse as a means to defeat the villain instead of something for the heroes to overcome. It's something I hope Marvel realizes is working, because its something I've found myself looking forward to in every upcoming realize, instead of dreading.

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