Dr. Strange: Scripting Comedy

Dr. Strange

Humor as the human dimension—an old dog doing new tricks

I know what you are thinking, “Comedy really? I mean this is the Cumberbatch-gone-gangbuster Dr. Strange right?” Yes, indeed, you are correct. What I mean to say is, this is a popular-level film that is doing comedy in a unique way.

Its no surprise that a film written/directed by Scott Derrickson explores the depths of the human experience. It is a surprise that such dramatic sequences occur in a fantastically CGed superhero film. Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Stephen Strange) remarked, “The feeling of watching it is sort of synesthetic. We’re trying to do something in a visual language that Shakespeare, say, did with words—to unlock parts of the human condition…understanding the limits of the human condition.”

Mads Mikkelsen on the set of 'Doctor Strange' filming on location in New York City.
Mads Mikkelsen on the set of ‘Doctor Strange’ filming on location in New York City.

A Scene Well-Put

Humor thoughtfully weaves through intense combat to dialogue sequences. The thing is Dr. Strange isn’t just replicating the traditional use of comic relief. The kinds of comedy vary. A toppling broom in a quiet room freaks out Christine (Rachel McAdams). Dr. Stephen Strange’s awkwardly excessive UK-dryness transforms the audience into pipe organ of guffaws. There is nothing like laughing with crowd of strangers. Meanwhile, Strange’s cape, a perfect match for his arrogance, acts like a kind of Peter Pan’s shadow. Even Kaecillius (Mads Mikkelsen), the villain, gets a punch. Its clear that Dr. Strange’s humor is not just ‘doing what you are supposed to do.’ The humor spans a range of comedic styles and lands at appropriate times.

The Super genre is new territory for me. I’m not used to imagining stories of a fantastical type. Therefore, at points I was tempted to fall out of the suspension of disbelief. I couldn’t relate. I kid you not, every time that temptation came Derrickson served up a slice of the comedic pie.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Scott Derrickson
Benedict Cumberbatch and Scott Derrickson

Laughter is relatable.

When done well, it can bring a distant audience into even the most outlandish experiences.Comedy glued together this magical and philosophical film. It catered humor to all viewer preferences kicking up a communal experience only a theater can conjure. And, it guided the audience into Dr. Strange’s most esoteric and contemplative explorations.


– Kylee


*Speaking of humor in film, looking forward to the Kiwi-humorist, Taika Waititi’s upcoming Thor—due for wide release November 3, 2017

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