Well. For the most basic, formulaic, over-used origin story ever, Doctor Strange was really good. Deadpool was the only Marvel movie I’ve really enjoyed over the past couple of years, so I was expecting the worst and was pleasantly surprised.

The writing was actually solid, the special effects were amazing, and it made me laugh out loud at more than one point.

However the women were…. okay. It didn’t pass the Bechdel test. There were barely even two named female characters. Does “The Ancient One” count as a name?

The women had a lot of potential, I guess. But they sort of fell flat.

The Ancient One had the most possibility for coolness. I love Tilda Swinton and I love the idea of an older woman (Swinton is 56) being the trainer and spiritual leader and being seen as a formidable opponent. She has this cool bald, androgynous thing going on, which I also loved. But she dies at the end. Leaving only one established female character for a sequel.

The whole white-washing thing also kinda ruined it for me. I understand that the director wanted to avoid casting an asian woman because he didn’t want to perpetuate the “Dragon Lady” stereotype. It’s just very frustrating that instead of writing a better, three-dimensional character that wasn’t a stereotype, he decided to avoid starring any asian women in the film at all. Even the female henchmen were white.

Also, on that note: I’m 100% all for female henchmen. I love them. Kill Bill Volume 1 is a great example of women being seamlessly grafted into a story arch as formidable henchmen and worth opponents.

Kaecilius’s female henchmen don’t get names, lines, or even the dignity of being the boss battle. They are not real threats. They don’t even get thrown the comedy bone. The male henchmen gets the laughs. He’s the mini boss battle that Strange actually has to work to defeat. The women are so nondescript  and boring that the credits refer to them as “blonde zealot” and “brunette zealot” because even though they appear on screen multiple times, their is literally no other way to label them.

I appreciate the fact that they at least tried. It was nice to see some evil female fighters.

Now on to my biggest disappointment of the movie: Rachel McAdams’ character Christine. Christine is so cool. She’s an emergency room surgeon who has dedicated her life to saving lives. If only she was actually ever shown as a competent doctor. She saves nobody on screen. She’s not the one who reassembles Strange’s hands. When Strange gets stabbed, he has to guide her through saving him, even though SHE’S the emergency room surgeon. She is incapable of saving The Ancient One. She does nothing.

So yet again, Marvel has created a fun movie with a cool cast of characters and totally screwed over the women.



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