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Tear Jerker / Doctor Strange (2016)

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"What... did they do?"

  • The entirety of Stephen's life prior to becoming an apprentice of Kamar-Taj can be both seen as a well-deserved Laser-Guided Karma (for a haughty and self-obsessed narcissist) and a very vicious Trauma Conga Line that sees a misguided and Tragic Hero stomped so horribly by bad luck, it's almost unfair. In order:
    • Stephen's accident leaves his hands irrepairably damaged (the metal spikes in his hands to salvage it just hammer it home).
      • His plight can easily be surmised in the last line of the scene: "I could have done better." One of the world's foremost authorities on neurosurgery who knows in his own mind that he has the talent necessary to undo the damage of the accident and yet he is bound by his inability to help himself.
    • He virtually burns up his entire lifetime's savings trying to fix his hands through experimental surgery, which all fail.
    • His colleagues (and most of the stockholders of his holdings) want him out of their lives either a) due to fear that failing to heal him will ruin their reputations; or b) they finally found a way to avenge themselves on him for all the times he's been insufferable.
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    • After his video chat, and after having nearly exhausted all efforts at traditional medical techniques, Strange discards the paper on the floor, which is covered in his failed attempts at writing his own name. For someone so proud to be unable to perform the simplest of tasks is heartbreaking.
    • Most heartbreakingly, Stephen shoos away Christine (the only one who's stood behind him all this time) because of his overbearing sense of self-pity clouding him to the genuine sacrifices she's made. Then, when he finally found his way to Nepal (on a one-way ticket he's not even sure he'll get back from), he's mugged by thieves who'd deprive him of his last possession (the watch Christine gave him). If not for Mordo saving him, he could've been beaten to death there, and the watch still ends up broken in the struggle. Then... when his mouthing off to the Ancient One gets him a taste of her massive power, his begging for teaching gets him kicked out. Once again, if not for Mordo convincing the Ancient One to take him in, his story could have been a veritable Downer Ending.
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  • After the aforementioned mugging, Mordo returns the watch the thugs took, and Strange sees the face is shattered and the watch no longer runs. His expression is just heartbroken. Everything he's been through (see above) and this is the moment that he hits the Despair Event Horizon. It's later revealed why: the watch was given to him by Christine, and the inscription reads "Time will tell how much I love you." Time did, indeed, tell that they didn't love each other enough to stick together through Strange's changes, but the fact that he's holding on to that watch is a Hope Spot... in time, maybe he can find a way to become the man deserving of her love.
  • Strange's pleas to be let back into Kamar-Taj. "Please don't shut me out. I have nowhere else to go."
  • Look back up at how much Mordo was responsible for bringing back Strange from the brink to become a once more confident man (even relatively-better than he was before) — as his mentor, ally and friend. In a way, Mordo saved Strange as much as the Ancient One and everyone else in Kamar-Taj. Now see that relationship crumble by the tail-end of the film when he learns that the Ancient One bent her own teachings — and then finding out that while Stephen shared his own discomfort about the Ancient One's double standards, Stephen goes out and breaks the rules anyway. Seeing the merciful and kind man who saved Strange twisted into becoming his arch-nemesis (apart from Dormammu, who didn't even have to corrupt him this time) is quite hard to watch.
  • Kaecilius' Motive Rant is calm yet conveys how broken he still is over his family's death and how his faith in the Ancient One and Kamar-Taj is broken. The worst part is he wants Strange to join him and his followers. He sincerely believes that he is The Hero in this story.
  • A mild one would be Christine's decision to let go of her romantic ties with Stephen even after they've reconciled his new role as a sorcerer — just immediately after they failed saving the Ancient One from dying from her injuries. It's a rare thing in this universe that the romantic tie of the storyline was left dangling (after all, Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor and Bruce Banner found happiness or closure in most of their films). Then again, you can argue that with them just coming to terms from failing to save a life and the long-term emotional trauma they had to endure with each other even before Stephen's accident, it was never going to happen after all — which is another kind of sad in its own way.
    • During his outburst, Strange claims that they were "barely lovers". Not only is this contradicted by Christine initially supporting him after the accident, but the watch. A Jaeger-Le Coultre watch is going to leave a nice dent in your wallet, and it had a pretty personal inscription on the back. It's not the kind of gift you give to a mere fling. Strange was clearly aiming to hurt her, and he succeeded. Can you really blame her for leaving in the end?
  • The Ancient One's bittersweet discussion of her own mortality after hundreds of years of life, as she is talking to Dr. Strange in her astral form while nearing death.
    The Ancient One: We don't get to choose our time. Death is what gives life meaning. To know your days are numbered, your time is short. You'd think after all this time I'd be ready. But look at me: stretching one moment into a thousand just so I can watch the snow.
    • Before The Ancient One's death, Strange was about to pick up a scalpel (resorting to old habits) to operate on her; before he even gets to use it, he stops and puts it back as if he just thought, "Oh, yeah. My hands don't work anymore". What's worse is that he probably could've saved her if he was still a doctor.
  • The final, heroic shot of Strange settling into his role as Master of the Sanctum takes a surprisingly bittersweet turn when Stephen looks down at his hand... and it still shakes.
  • The second post-credits scene takes us to Jonathan Pangborn, the man who used magic to make himself walk again. So Mordo, claiming there are too many sorcerers, takes back the magic and leaves him crumpled on his workshop floor.


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