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Dr. Strange: a movie review

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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Credit: Yui Mok via AP

With all the superhero movies that have come out in the last decade, I’m not sure it’s possible to introduce a new hero in a way that feels truly novel. The basic story arch is often the same, and that’s, for the most part, the case with Marvel’s latest entry: Dr. Strange. Still, it’s a really fun movie with amazing visual effects–the 3D IMAX version would have been worth the added cost–and great acting. Benedict Cumberbatch does a great job as Dr. Strange and even the minor characters are played by amazing actors. As the first of what promises to be many appearances for the characters–make sure you stay through all the credits if you go to see it–the film sets the characters up well for their future roles.

The story revolves around Dr. Strange, an egotistical and brilliant surgeon who sees his career slip through crippled fingers after he gets into a devastating car accident while texting at high speeds (that vivid reminder of the dangers inherent to texting while driving justifies the movie by itself). After spending his fortune on increasingly risky medical treatments with nothing to show for it besides a dwindling bank account and broken relationships, he learns of a Nepalese monastery called Kamar-Taj that might hold the answers he seeks.

Desperate, Strange ventures halfway around the world and is eventually introduced to the Ancient One, who leads a group of powerful sorcerers tasked with defending Earth from the dark forces lurking beyond our universe. The good doctor eventually overcomes his initial skepticism to embrace the mystical arts and join the fight against one of the Ancient One’s former pupils, who seeks the immortality promised by the film’s overarching villain, Dormammu.

If you’re familiar with Hugh Laurie’s infamously snarky TV doc Gregory House and have ever wondered what he would be like as a superhero, Dr. Strange is right up your alley. Contrary to House, however, when faced with the choice of using his considerable gifts for his own ends rather than the good of others, Strange makes the decision to embrace his role in something bigger than himself. As Christians who have each been gifted for a specific purpose in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12), the reminder that those gifts are meant to serve a higher calling is both welcome and needed.

One of the most important parts of that passage in 1 Corinthians 12 is Paul’s teaching that there are no small gifts when it comes to kingdom work. Yes, some are more public than others and some are more prone to praise. But in the eyes of the God who knows us intimately and sees that which is done in secret as clearly as if it were done before the masses, every talent used for his purposes rather than our own is worthy of the only recognition we should crave as the children of a perfect heavenly Father.

That way of thinking doesn’t always come naturally to us, but it’s vital for experiencing the kind of peace and joy that comes from not only fulfilling your calling but from doing so in a manner that benefits something greater than yourself. So whatever your gifts might be, remember that they will only find their true purpose in serving the one who blessed you with them in the first place. Have you experienced that sense of purpose lately?

 

Note: If you are not sure what your spiritual gifts might be, the Denison Forum has a free test that can serve as a great place to start that conversation. Ultimately, though, you can’t know your spiritual gifts without asking the Spirit. Spending time in prayer, seeking his guidance to understand not only what your gifts are but how he wants to use them should be an essential part of every Christian’s life and it’s a conversation that needs to be ongoing if we are going to use our gifts as God intends.