One of the most polarizing decisions Marvel has made regarding their Cinematic Universe has been how they’ve dealt with magic. We first encountered magic in the Thor movies where, as a god from Asgard, of course they’ll be dealing with powers that have no explanation. However, Marvel took that in the direction of being high science from infinitely advanced beings that is so far advanced that we cannot understand it. In a lot of ways, this helped to keep the universe grounded and was a pretty cool way to explain the existence of the Nine Realms — they’re not magical realms that break all the rules and need new narrative guidelines, they are all civilizations so far advanced that we simply cannot access their technology.
However, though an interesting decision that helped to keep the narrative a bit more simple, it served to also rob the Marvel Cinematic Universe of any real mystery or… magic. But now there’s Doctor Strange, a purely magical character and he’s not from an advanced civilization; he’s from 20th Century Earth, so there is no explaining his power away. Early on, comments from Kevin Feige at their Marvel Event in 2014 lead people to speculate that they might use the quantum universe to explain where his sorcerous manipulations come from. Then, when Ant-Man hit screens last year, there were a lot of parallels made to Doctor Strange based on Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) visit to the Quantum Realm.
But, this week, the good people at Games Radar released an interview they had with Scott Derrickson, the director on Doctor Strange, at San Diego Comic Con saying that, “Magic is magic in this movie. It’s not something that’s explained away scientifically.” He then goes on to add, “It’s not something that’s easy to define. As magic should be. Magic should be mysterious. There’s mystery to magic and there’s mystery to the tone of the movie. Mystery is a good thing.”
According to Derrickson, then, it seems like the magic we see in Doctor Strange will receive no explanation that is completely satisfactory. In fact, it seems that it may ask more questions than it answers, and, as Derrickson says, that’s a good thing. Because, honestly, as much as you might want to ground the unexplained to make the story more simple, there is still some mystery to the world and it seems that Doctor Strange is fully embracing it.
Now if they could only find a way to explain/not explain Scarlet Witch in a satisfactory way…
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He has two cats and knows all things about Doctor Strange but little else.