Story

Doctor Strange is the story of Dr Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a top-level neurosurgeon. When the movie begins, Stephen’s arrogance and overconfidence distance him from other people.

After a car accident causes permanent and serious nerve damage to his hands, Stephen embarks on a quest to find a cure that will allow him to work in medicine again. After hearing about a strange cult of healers who might be able to help him, Stephen goes to Nepal. At first he’s very sceptical about the healers’ mystic arts, but he’s gradually forced to re-evaluate his entire view of the world and reality itself. The leader of the group, the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), starts mentoring Stephen and he quickly advances in his mystical skills.

Stephen’s progress is interrupted by the ongoing threat posed by a previous student, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen). Kaecilius seeks eternal life and wants to summon a powerful creature from the Dark Dimension to achieve this outcome. Stephen finds himself thrown into a war he was unaware of. He must utilise his newfound skills not only as a source of physical and psychological power for himself, but also to protect humanity.

Themes

Good versus evil; the supernatural; eternal life; relationships

Violence

Doctor Strange has considerable violence. For example:

  • The movie opens with some robed men using mystical threads to raise a man in the air. The man’s head is cut off (this is shown in silhouette), and there’s the sound of a scream and dripping blood. We find out later that the man had stolen a book from a library, for which the punishment is execution.
  • There are many sequences of physical fighting and violence using hand-to-hand combat and weapons like swords and knives. We hear clashing weapons and the sounds of injuries and screams. Occasionally but briefly, we see wounds.
  • When driving dangerously, Stephen has a car accident. His car swipes the side of another, catapults into the air and flips upside down. His hands are crushed and he is seen with a bloodied face. He is later seen in a hospital bed with serious bruising and cuts to his face. His hands are full of steel pins.
  • Three men try to mug Stephen. He throws a punch and is knocked to the ground as the three men beat him. They are shown using their hands and feet to hurt him.
  • Kaecilius sends a large ball of magical fire through a sanctuary entrance, causing part of the building to collapse and sending Stephen flying backwards.
  • Kaecilius conjures a mystical sword made of glass and uses it to stab a man in the chest. No blood is shown, although the injury is seen.
  • Kaecilius manipulates the environment during a fight sequence and throws Stephen around. Stephen smacks his face into a sheet of glass, and some blood is shown.
  • The Cloak of Levitation flies off Stephen’s body and starts to suffocate an enemy by wrapping itself around his face.
  • Kaecilius stabs the Ancient One in the stomach. She’s then thrown from the top of a building and crashes to the ground. She is rushed to hospital, where she is seen in a hospital bed with injuries and blood on her face. 

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Doctor Strange has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • Stephen performs brain surgery to remove a bullet from a patient. There’s some blood when the bullet is removed.
  • Characters use magical powers to manipulate the world and environment around them at their will. Characters also forge weapons using magic.
  • The Ancient One pushes Stephen through an astral plane, causing him to fly through space. He screams in fear as he passes through colourful and surreal tunnels.
  • Hands begin growing on each of Stephen’s fingers, and hands start to grow out of walls.
  • Scenes that show dead bodies also show a man impaled on a metal rod.

From 5-8
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the violent and scary scenes described above and the deaths of several characters, including the Ancient One.

From 8-13
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the violent and scary scenes described above.

Over 13
Younger teenagers might also be disturbed by some of the scenes described above.

Sexual references

Doctor Strange has some mild sexual references. For example:

  • Stephen asks Christine whether she is ‘sleeping with’ another colleague.
  • Christine says to Stephen, ‘We weren’t friends – we were barely lovers’.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in Doctor Strange: Jaeger LeCoultre watches; Google Translate; and musicians including Adele, Eminem and Beyonce (whose lyrics ‘If you like it then you should have put a ring on it’ are played at one point).

Coarse language

Doctor Strange has some mild coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Doctor Strange is a Marvel superhero movie about an acclaimed neurosurgeon who sets out on a journey of healing but ends up gaining much more than he’d expected.

The movie has plenty of issues to discuss with older teenagers, but it isn’t recommended for children under 15 years. It’s a dark movie that deals with the supernatural. It has violence throughout and some disturbing scenes.

Dr Strange shows Stephen’s gradually developing humility as he begins to recognise that other people have skills and knowledge greater than his own. As he opens his mind to possibilities he’d never previously acknowledged, he finds not only great personal fulfilment and a sense of purpose but also new connections with others.

This movie highlights the importance of being prepared to fail and to try new things even when you’re scared of failing. It explores beliefs about death and asks whether eternal life would be a positive or destructive thing. The movie also highlights the importance of understanding that all actions have consequences. It suggests that if people don’t stick to the ethical rules and standards that they value, there might be a price to pay.