‘Doctor Strange’ reviews: Is Benedict Cumberbatch the best Marvel Studios superhero yet?

Doctor Strange” is a hit — at least, according to critics so far. With a score of 72 on MetaCritic and 90% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s one of the best reviewed Marvel movies to date, and it could help Marvel studios break its Oscar curse.

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Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the title character, Dr. Stephen Strange, a neurosurgeon drawn into the world of mystical arts. He’s eliciting praise from critics, who say the role is “tailor-made” for his talents and that the film works as well as it does in large part due to his performance and that of his co-star, Tilda Swinton, who plays the Ancient One.

Swinton is a past Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actress for “Michael Clayton” (2007), while Cumberbatch was nominated as Best Actor for “The Imitation Game” (2014). It’s unlikely that either of them will contend for major awards for this particular project — the motion picture academy usually scoffs at superhero movies — but below the line the film could finally win the Marvel Cinematic Universe its first Oscar.

That’s because the visual effects are “visually transfixing,” and they show “how effective VFX can be when they’ve got some imagination behind them.” Six Marvel movies have been nominated for Best Visual Effects since the cinematic universe launched with “Iron Man” in 2008, but none have won — in fact, no film from the current Marvel era has won Oscars in any category.

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Will this finally be an awards coup for the studio? Check out some of the reviews below and discuss this film and more in our movie forum.

Manohla Dargis (New York Times): “[Marvel’s] latest, the giddily enjoyable ‘Doctor Strange,’ is part of Marvel’s strategy for world domination, yet it’s also so visually transfixing, so beautiful and nimble that you may even briefly forget the brand.”

Justin Chang (Los Angeles Times): “Whatever adjustments have been made between page and screen, the character feels tailor-made for Cumberbatch, who, after his career-high performances as Sherlock Holmes and Alan Turing, is no stranger to playing a vain, sardonic genius with a droll contempt for humanity.”

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Alonso Duralde (The Wrap): “‘Doctor Strange,’ the latest movie in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, casts a few impressive spells of its own, not the least of which is the redemption of the visual-effects extravaganza … this funny, freaky adventure reminds us of how effective VFX can be when they’ve got some imagination behind them.”

Chris Nashawaty (Entertainment Weekly): “But the studio’s latest, ‘Doctor Strange,’ wouldn’t work as well it as it does (and it mostly works very, very well) without Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton — two actors, who in addition to being intelligent, top-shelf stars both project a slightly alien, otherworldly air.”

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