Doctor Strange

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Doctor Strange Movie Poster Image
 Popular with kidsParents recommend
Mysticism, humor, and action surround unique Marvel hero.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 115 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 33 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 146 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The ultimate lesson is one of humility -- i.e. "It's not about you." Arrogance and selfishness are limited, unfulfilling paths; learning to better yourself and following a path that isn't always easy provide greater rewards. Perseverance pays off. But rather than fight against a current, it can sometimes be better to surrender and use the current's power to your benefit. Argues that sometimes breaking the rules a little is necessary to get a job done. (And don't text and drive!)

Positive Role Models & Representations

As Marvel heroes go, Doctor Strange is closer to Tony Stark/Iron Man than he is to Steve Rogers/Captain America. He starts the story as arrogant and afraid but slowly learns humility -- to see a greater good outside his own wants and needs. He enters the battle even though he doesn't want to and even though he hasn't yet mastered his powers.


Lots of mass destruction of buildings and property. A beheading (no gore shown). Frequent martial arts fighting, with some "magical" weapons (swords and whips made of light). Scenes on an operating table, with some bloody parts shown. Bloody scratches on the main character's face. Brutal car crash (character was texting while driving), with bloody hands and face. A terrible fall from a height, crashing through glass. Arguing. Some scary sequences (a brief nightmarish "journey" with grabbing hands).


Two characters have had an intimate relationship, and they talk comfortably together. Mention of "sleeping together."


One "s--t," plus a couple uses of "a--hole," "ass," and "hell."


A character buys Kettle chips from a vending machine; sign for Yakult drinkable yogurt. This is also part of the Marvel franchise, which has vast quantities of tie-in merchandise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Doctor Strange is a bit different than other Marvel Universe movies, since it presents a sorcerer as a superhero. At the start, the main character (Benedict Cumberbatch) is arrogant and selfish, but he slowly learns humility: to better himself and to think of others. Frequent comic book-style action violence includes large-scale destruction, a brutal car crash (the result of texting and driving), bloody wounds and scenes at an operating table, and a terrible fall from a height, crashing through glass. There's also martial arts fighting, fighting with "magical" weapons, a beheading, and other brief, scary stuff. A couple is said to have been in a relationship, and there's a mention of "sleeping together." Language includes one "s--t," two uses of "a--hole" and an "ass." The doctor is an unusual, but very entertaining, member of the superhero club, and the movie's mystical elements provide food for thought as well as fun.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMicah O. November 8, 2020


This is a great film! In fact this is my favorite movie of all time (And that is saying a lot). The movie is fun for kids, and adults (AS i'm an adult and... Continue reading
Parent of a 10-year-old Written November 12, 2016

Bloody, gruesome, occasionally gory make this film for teens +.

Do not be deceived by the main review. Doctor Strange is an amazing, effect-filled Marvel adventure, true. Although, this one comes with considerably more grit... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old November 6, 2016

Best Movie of 2016

Okay, I can not stop thinking about this movie after seeing it, so I decided to write a review of it! Currently, I had just seen this a few minutes ago, and I m... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAKGDolphin November 30, 2016

Okay, but not as good as the reviews say

In my opinion, it wasn't my favorite and it was a bit confusing at times. It had great messages but there were a few gross parts in the hospital scenes. If... Continue reading

What's the story?

In DOCTOR STRANGE, the title character (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a skilled surgeon who's both successful and arrogant. After crashing his sports car, he finds that his hands are useless, and medical science can't restore them. But he hears of a man who was able to walk again after a spinal injury and seeks the source of this rumor, an Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) in Kathmandu, Nepal. At first the doctor mocks the Ancient One's claims that healing his spirit can heal his body, but he finds her powers genuine and begs to be taught. His training goes better than expected: It even appears that Doctor Strange might be a natural-born sorcerer. But a villain, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), has stolen pages from one of the Ancient One's spell books and intends to use them to bring a dark dimension to Earth. Has Strange learned enough to stop this evil from happening?

Is it any good?

Marvel's 14th Cinematic Universe movie has all the usual action and explosions, but it also has a different type of main character -- one who's magical and appealingly flawed but willing to change. Chiefly known as a horror director, helmer Scott Derrickson unexpectedly adds plenty of playfulness and humor to a story that could have been steeped in self-serious exoticism and mysticism. It helps that Cumberbatch and Swinton, as well as Benedict Wong as the keeper of the spellbook library, bring so much personality to their roles.

Most of Doctor Strange's seriousness is a burden carried by Chiwetel Ejiofor's Mordo character, but comic fans will at least know the reason why. Unfortunately, the best character moments tend to cool down and fizzle out during the big action sequences. But some of those scenes, which have beautiful "folding" effects as the sorcerers change the environment around them, are quite impressive, especially as Strange learns his powers. As the movie's climax arrives, the action becomes bigger and less involving. Still, it's thrilling to see Strange embrace his inner spirit, finding power by going with the current, instead of against it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Doctor Strange's violence. How does it compare to what you've seen in other Marvel movies? Is there a difference in the impact of hand-to-hand combat and catastrophic, buildings-collapsing type of explosions?

  • As the movie begins, how is the doctor selfish and arrogant? How does he learn to change these things? How does he demonstrate humility and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

  • Why do you think the Marvel comics have turned into such well-received movies? How does Doctor Strange fit in? How is he different?

  • What lessons does Doctor Strange learn from the Ancient One? Could you apply any of these lessons to your own life?

  • How does the movie address texting and driving? Do the consequences seem realistic?

Movie details

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