beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
[personal profile] beccaelizabeth
I figured out another problem with the Doctor Strange movie, specifically the casting and performance of Strange himself.

The movie is his transition into a strange new world, one he and the majority of the audience know not of. But he doesn't invite us in or make a bridge for our understanding. From his role in the world before to every nuance of his performance, he's as alien to us as the new world is, an arrogant mask that bounces us off without understanding or empathising.

That leaves no one to draw us in. It becomes spectacle, empty, beyond us. And if we're meant to react with awe, well, that's one way to go, but...

Watching some arrogant prick like Strange denigrate the skills of every lesser mortal, which is all we get from him in his ordinary life, it's only fun for the audience in two ways: if they can identify enough to make it a power fantasy, or if they can enjoy the whole hubris cycle when he's brought low.

We watch him get beat up and humiliated enough I'm pretty sure it's meant to be the latter.

Which is... interesting, as a way to introduce a hero.

But it means what we get from him Before is all arrogant mask, and in the middle he's lost and confused and screwing up. But his performance doesn't invite us in on that' We still get a mask and a lot of quips.

They're pop culture quips that would only make sense as a way to bridge two symbol sets, a way to translate experience into familiar to the audience terms. But they rattle by so fast they do no such thing.

So the audience is left with no emotional access to this stuff, watching this arrogant ass be beat up by forces beyond the audience's comprehension.

Then by the time it turns around and uses tricks we know to achieve goals in impressive ways, well, I for one was already disconnected and bored, and didn't feel invited in to the movie at all, so I just... watched. No feels. Very little wow even. Just watched to the end.

A better or more vulnerable performance could have invited us behind the mask. Or someone to play the role of Companion to the Doctor and explicitly invite the audience in and translate into familiar experiential terms.

The film also felt like it had no room for women, and I'm still pondering why. Surely the Ancient One and... drat, can't remember a name, the doctor Strange kept going to... well, she only existed when Strange needed her or she him, I have no idea who she is when she walks out of shot. And the Ancient One was a mystery you shouldn't quite trust, and then that plot happened. And again, who is she in herself? No clue.

I don't know though, I don't know if it was a gender thing or an epic lack of character in their characters thing. But I think every incidental master of the mystic arts was a bloke, and the only random woman I can remember was team bad guy, so I'm inclined to say it needs counting and a hard stare.

Marvel movies nag at me because they're playing with such rich ingredients but where they fail they fail... boring. Standard. Whitewashed and bechdel fail, sort of thing.

I'd rather they took more chances and failed more interesting, like the rich comics stew before them, but at their budget they're wildly unlikely to contradict orthodoxy even when the numbers say they really needed to.

Cast someone else as Strange - someone with the knack of showing characters the mask but letting the audience behind it. Cast him as the son of immigrants reconnecting with a culture he rejected, or someone cast adrift from his ancestral culture by the actions of colonisers and slavers, or someone who had to work twice as hard to be seen as half as good and has sacrificed everything on the altar of his talent because he knows how others have failed. Cast him as someone who gives an interesting, relatable, vulnerable angle just standing there, and you've got your way in to Strange, even as he tries to have a white man's arrogant swagger, and watches it all fall apart.

Instead they cast mighty whitey yet again there to school us on everyone else's beliefs, and it's just... empty. Without leaving us a space
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beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)

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