While most comic fans and critics who’ve seen Marvel’s Doctor Strange in advanced screenings seem to not only appreciate, but also enjoy, the film that Scott Derrickson has put together, there are still those who aren’t buying what the MCU is selling. Predictably, one such nay-sayer is a Christian film critic, a man by the name of Dr. Ted Baehr, who believes that Benedict Cumberbatch’s introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe will also serve as an introduction to something else entirely: a life in the black arts of the occult!
Dr. Baehr and the organization he chairs, the Christian Film Television Commission, issued a press release today that denounces the Marvel Studios film for the following reasons, complete with corresponding Bible verses:
[Doctor Strange is] a dangerous introduction to demonic occult deception. … The Bible clearly warns against the kind of occult practices and sorcery the hero in this movie learns to do, in Deuteronomy 18:9-12 and Galatians 5:20. Also in the movie, the hero’s New Age, occult guru teaches there may be no afterlife, that death is truly the end, and that this is a good thing.
As far as the Bible verses go, Doctor Strange would definitely be in trouble, as Deuteronomy pretty much states no witches or wizards, whatsoever. As for the specifics set by Galatians, “idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, and divisions,” are all considered “works of the flesh.” Considering that covers basically the entire film’s plotline, that just sinks the film into further hot water with practicing Christians who strictly abide by such guidelines. Though, looking at the coverage for Scott Derrickson’s previous films through the Christian film watchdogs at MovieGuide, this is almost par for the course.
With the obvious exception of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which only scored a rating of “-1, Caution” on MovieGuide’s scale of appropriateness, Sinister, as well as Doctor Strange, have both ranked in with the lowest rating of “-4, Abhorrent” on that same scale. While that’s not a completely glowing recommendation for Derrickson’s work from the site, it’s amazing that the site would think of Sinister or even Doctor Strange as such vehemently objectionable material.
With the former basically punishing its protagonist for digging too deep into his investigation of the occult, and the latter depicting a hero who learns humility through sacrifice, one would think that these values would hold up with Christian viewers. However, rules are rules, and considering the occult is a big part of Derrickson’s resume, his latest film must look like the latest in a line of abhorrent product. Which is a shame, because with the right framing and discussion, Doctor Strange could be an excellent parable of good moral fiber.
Thankfully, you’ll have the chance to see for yourself tomorrow, as Doctor Strange will debut in early screenings as early as tomorrow night.