Tag Archives: symbolism

Moana and Feminine Symbolism

As Moana’s grandmother retells: “In the beginning there was only ocean until the mother island emerged with the greatest power ever known–it could create life.” The mother island Te Fili is beautiful and serene – an all-powerful mother-creator. However, it is beset by monsters and Maui, the disruptive trickster, steals her heart amid menacing music and a glaring green light. “For generations this peaceful island has been home to our family, but beyond our reef a great danger is coming. Legend tells of a hero who will journey to find the Maui, and together the demigod Maui, and together they will save us all.”

 

Grandmother: The legends are true. Someone will have to go.
Chief Tui: There are no monsters. No reason to leave the island.

 

She is right and he hopes he can ignore what’s happening – a strategy that will only make the world worse. Likewise the mother’s defeatist talk – “Sometimes who we wish we were, what we wish we could do—it’s just not meant to be” – is a challenge the heroine must rise above.

Hikar, a demon of earth and fire, defeated Maui and he lost the heart in the ocean. Hikar represents the grief and vengeance of the goddess – the stronger side used to defend herself in times of loss and war. As she lashes out in fury, a spreading black cloud fills the world.

Moana, among the toddlers, is the only one responding to the story with bright-eyed curiosity and joy. She is the innocent but she’s already a savior. She begins as a baby, protecting a baby turtle with a protective leaf over it. In doing so, she turns down the pretty pink shell that is a physical reward, like a shiny toy. Impressed by her goodness, the ocean offers her a pathway of pink shells, along with a glorious ocean tour and finally the lost heart. This is a green glowing stone marked with a spiral. Of course, this entire encounter represents a toddler’s make believe more than anything the heroine remembers sincerely.

Moana’s feminine symbols are perfect. In fact, “moana” is the Polynesian word for ocean, emphasizing her destiny as a voyager. The sea is the source of all life and thus a feminine power, with Moana cast as goddess in training. As for the heart, green is the color of immaturity and growth, the fertility and health of the land. “The spiral was connected with the idea of death and rebirth: entering the mysterious earth womb, penetrating to its core, and passing out again by the same route” (Walker 14). It is the image of women’s mysteries, or of journeying to the deep secrets hidden within the self and the world.

Pink conch shells are actually a symbol of the woman’s sex organs, emphasizing that good-girl Moana will not be tempted by sex but only by the heart. Pink suggests femininity and also sensuality, because it’s similar to flesh tones. A shell, especially the cowrie shell, represented the feminine gate of life as far back as 20,000 BC (Campbell the Masks of God: Primitive Mythology 376). The cowrie was used as a feminine symbol to avert the evil eye in India, with a name likely derived from the goddess Kauri. “Cowries were used throughout the Middle East, Egypt, the South Pacific, and the Mediterranean countries as charms for healing, fertility, rebirth, magical power or good luck” (Walker 507-508). Symbolically, the conch is a vessel filled with the water of life and thus a womb symbol. The spiral conch-shell symbolizes infinite space that gradually expands in a clockwise direction. Thus it’s the Human Journey through birth, life, resurrection, and more. The shell’s hard casing protects life, while its pearly luster and aquatic nature connect with puirity. In Buddhism the conch shell’s call is meant to awaken one from ignorance, and signals victory over suffering.  In Chinese Buddhism, the conch shell signifies a prosperous journey, and in Islam it represents  hearing the divine world. All these resonate with Moana.

Moana’s actress, Auli’i Cravalho is the youngest Disney Princess voice in history, being only 14 years old while filming (16 by the time the film came out). One critic describes her as “a fully rounded character with an idealized yet believable body, flaws that she acknowledges and fights, and a resourcefulness that makes her admirable even when she’s failing” (Robinson).

 

Only 14 when she performed Moana, having never done any film acting before, Cravalho is remarkably self-possessed, with a bold singing voice—perfect for the role. In addition, the tunes (by the harmonious trio of Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, Disney regular Mark Mancina and Samoan singer Opetaia Foa’i) are stirring, and the gorgeous visuals make Motunui an inviting place to dwell indeed. Lush, colorful and intricately detailed, the CG imagery is captivating throughout the movie, from the tops of the mountains to the depths of the sea.. (Gingold)

 

Moana has two living, loving parents in an unusual break for Disney. More unusually, she has a real female mentor. Her grandmother proudly describes herself as the “village crazy lady.” Gramma Tala (Rachel House) teaches her to dance by the ocean side that “misbehaves” like them and celebrate her feminine gifts. The ocean is the source of feminine power, bringing endless fertility and connecting the islands. As Moana accepts her role as future chief, she struggles to protect her island as the coconuts die and the fish vanish. Finally, she accepts that as Chosen One she will have to quest to save them all.

 

The queen goddess in mythology was not a warrior but a creator, the earth itself worshipped as the Supreme Mother. Imitating her, the girl becomes a life-giver and protector, a goal which heroines risk everything to achieve. Dorothy saves Toto over and over, for he is her most childlike and sparkling self, her vulnerable side most in need of protection. Lyra of The Golden Compass quests for her best friend Roger; Bella Swan rescues her true love, daughter, and vampire clan; Coraline saves her parents. Katniss volunteers for the Hunger Games to save her sister, and Tris risks everything for her own parents and brother. These repeated rescues symbolize building a family and fighting to the death to defend it. By accomplishing her task, the heroine grows from child to mother-protector, ready to take her place as head of the household. (Frankel, Chosen One, Kindle Locations 204-210).

 

The film offers the sensitive cultural imagery of The Lion King or Elena of Avalor along with the impetuous restless teen of The Little Mermaid and the irritable buddy comedy of Frozen. Unlike almost every Disney Princess, she doesn’t sacrifice everything for love of a man but finds a way to be an independent heroine. “Directors Ron Clements and John Musker are veterans of the ’90s Disney Renaissance (they crafted Aladdin, Hercules and The Little Mermaid). But that era’s girl-power animation also feels nimbly rebooted here, via Moana’s Pocahontas-style leadership and Mulan pluck” (Stables).

Unlike other Disney heroines she doesn’t have elaborate costume changes into princess gowns – she’s an adventure heroine who gets the job done and climbs mountains and swims all in the same sturdy outfit. Moana wears an elaborately patterned white skirt and a coral colored top and sash – the pink of femininity blended with the red of the mature woman. “Coral was called the ocean’s tree of life, its red color attributed to life-giving feminine blood” (Walker 507). The white skirt suggests the immature virgin just beginning. As From Girl to Goddess, a book exploring the stages of the heroine’s journey, says of the mythic heroine: “She is a maiden (white) longing to become a grown woman (red). To accomplish this, she faces death and gains powers of the spirit (black)” (Frankel 57). This last comes from the red and black lava goddess.

Moana’s father Tui (Temuera Morrison) intends for her to be “the next great chief” with a red feather crown – an unusual role indeed for the Disney heroine, once seen with almost no one besides Elsa. She’s filled with yearning to strike out and explore what adventure might await beyond the forbidden reef that surrounds and protects them like a wall. Her father insists she has responsibilities at home. However, as he guides her to the highest mountain where his forefathers have each piled a stone in a tower of masculine pride and lineage, it’s clear he intends her to take a man’s path. “No coronation in the latest Disney-princess movie Moana happens. Still, the future of the titular princess is insinuated by contemplative shots of Moana staring at an elaborate headdress, the tribal equivalent of a crown, with both trepidation and anticipation” (Cao).

The heroine of Brave tries to do this for herself, rejecting marriage to shoot her bow. (In fact, these are the only Disney Princesses who aren’t retelling a classic fairytale or finding a love interest.) But Moana feels a feminine yearning for herself – being not a king but a queen. She takes the men’s boat out, trying to emulate her father’s journey beyond the reef (pig companion in tow) to find fish for her people. She tries to solve their problems and protect them as she once aided the turtle, but she realizes she will need a greater act of heroism. And as her father stays home where it’s safe as the world dies, she will need a far different path. “You told me to help our people. This is how I help our people,” she insists.

Her grandmother shows her what she lacks by guiding her to the feminine sacred place of the island – a cave. A cave symbolizes the dark innermost place of the self – all the person has repressed or forgotten. Within, Moana sounds the drum (another feminine symbol, suggesting the power of the earth and the heartbeat) and discovers her people’s forgotten legacy – they sailed all the oceans joyously – men women and children. Together they would settle for a time then travel ever on in a great golden fleet with dolphins playing around them. “To protect our people voyaging was forbidden, and we have forgotten who we are,” her grandmother tells her. Among all the ships, she sees a small one with the heart’s spiral shape – the symbol of a woman’s labyrinthine journey into the spirit. Her perfect vessel awaits.

The grandmother gives her the heart and tells her her ocean encounter was a true one. “I was that there that day. The ocean chose you.” As she adds, “The question you keep asking yourself—who are you meant to be?” She insists a hero must take Maui to the goddess to return the heart.

As her grandmother lies ill and likely dying, she gives Moana her locket to keep the green heart in. The locket is blue mother-of-pearl, perhaps a mussel – color and shell are both feminine symbols of the mature goddess-woman as are the pearls that it’s strung between. “The pearl signifies humility, purity, innocence, and a retiring spirit,” Jones notes in History and Mystery of Precious Stones as he describes the “modest splendor and purity of the jewel” (94, 113). They were said to be a combination of masculine and feminine, male fire and female water.

Blue, the color of sky and sea, represents the life-filled goddess. “Blue has also come to symbolize purity: Christians associate it with the Virgin Mary, and it is the Roman Catholic liturgical color used on her feast days” (Shepherd 344). She is always pictured as wearing a blue gown with red scarf or cloak.

Moana leaves behind Pua the Pig, her childhood pet who suggests the safe family life (and perhaps a willingness to be lied to as she assures him she’s not eating pork). Instead, she takes along Hei-Hei the rather insane rooster, as she insists, “Sometimes our strengths lie beneath the surface. Far beneath.” People have hidden talents buried deep within, much as she does. “Every winged being is a symbol of spiritualization,” as the mind reaches like the bird for the heights (Cirlot 26). Though Hei-Hei is mad and can’t actually fly (or swim), he suggests breaking boundaries and finding freedom. At the climax, she drops the spiral stone and he saves it for her, contributing a moment of aid at just the right time. As she sails, her grandmother as manta ray sails in her wake like a beautiful glowing butterfly, symbol of the soul.

As her grandmother insisted, Moana finds Maui at last (voiced by Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson), only to discover he’s completely full of himself. “Do you who Maui is? The greatest demigod that ever lived, who stopped the sun, who pulled up islands out of the sea, and battled monsters. Do you know why I know all this? That’s because, I am Maui!” Dressed in green leaves with luxuriant black hair and black tattoos, he’s covered in the fertility symbols of the wise, mature creation force – one whom Moana must learn from. His small Maui tattoo, over his heart, appears to be the voice of his conscience or his shadow, expressing the thoughts and impulses he keeps bottled up. His constantly changing tattoos emphasize his shapeshifter powers. His favorite form, that of a hawk, is a quintessentially masculine image. The hawk suggests swiftness and keen sight with great skill at the hunt – it’s a symbol of striving for great heights.

 

“In another Disney Princess first, theirs is an odd-couple adventure rather than a love story, more True Grit than true romance” (Stables). As the powerful ancient god, he’s skeptical of the “self-taught” heroine.

 

Moana: The ocean sent me.
Maui: You’re what, 8? Can’t sail? Perfect choice.
Moana: It chose me.

 

He also acknowledges the film tradition they both come from, noting snarkily, “If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.”

“He gives the movie a jolt of vainglorious energy that both contrasts with and complements Moana’s earnestness” (Gingold). While he sings about his greatness, he shuts her in a cave and takes her boat. She climbs out of the cave using her grit and tells him firmly, “I am Moana of Motusi. You will board my boat and restore the heart to Te Fili.” Maui self-centeredly retorts that he stole the heart as a gift for mankind and they should be grateful. It takes his journey with Moana for him to realize he was wrong to take the goddess’s power and that his success shouldn’t come from another’s possessions.

When he first arrives, the heart seems to be one more trophy from one more adventure, like his celebratory tattoos. Around his neck are more toothy trophies and he has a crowd of fans…at least as tattoos. He signs Moana’s paddle, her chosen tool, with his fishhook symbol and the heart that has become hers, suggesting her journey from the sea to the goddess’s island. A paddle, like a wand or a hand, suggests impacting her world and allowing her to travel.

Maui’s chosen weapon is a giant swordlike fishhook – without it he feels completely impotent and can’t exercise any of his superpowers. “Without my hook, I am nothing,” he insists. By contrast, Moana’s subtle, all-pervasive ocean magic (or rather the ocean as her helper) keeps popping her back onto the ship, letting her outmaneuver even the ancient god of sailing. She taunts him with the heart, adding, “Are you afraid of it?” in fact, he is, realizing the awesome creation force of the goddess – he can steal it, but not understand or truly own it.

She learns to persuade him, leaning on his need for adoration to convince him to quest with her:

 

Moana: Maui, shapeshifter, demigod of the wind and the sea, let’s save the world.
Maui: I’m not going on a mission with some kid.
Moana: You’d be a hero. That’s what you’re all about, right?
[Maui imagines crowds chanting his name and hears the chant]
Moana: Maui, Maui, Maui.
[we see that it’s Moana quietly chanting his name]
Moana: You’re so amazing.

 

When she realizes he’s a far better sailor than she is, she persuades him to teach her (of course, when she’s unsuccessful, the ocean intervenes and even hits him in the rear end with a sleeping dart). She high-fives the ocean for its help. Meanwhile, Maui teaches her to be more than a princess—to be a Wayfinder with the ancient powers of her people.

 

She doesn’t even need a love interest to define her story. Maui, a tattooed trickster with all Johnson’s gleaming-toothed charm, is compelling, but he’s also ageless and inhuman, so it’s a relief when he doesn’t start giving his traveling companion the hey-baby eye. Moana is all about familiar patterns, refined to their ultimate forms, and presented with a satisfying energy and power. But Musker and Clements also have the sense to pick and choose which tropes make sense for their story. As perfectly as these old beats work in this new context, Moana functions as well as it does because the story team ultimately focused on finding everything about Disney stories that worked in 2016, and improving everything that didn’t. (Robinson)

 

She insists she’s the chosen one and “the ocean chose me for a reason.” Maui debates that the ocean is flighty and unrealistic – common criticism aimed at women. As with the father-grandmother clash, Maui’s patriarchal attitude versus the ocean’s small interventions and gentle pushes soon fail. “I have no idea why the ocean chose me. You’re right. But my island is dying and it’s just me and you,” she insists. She also discovers Maui’s famous generosity for mankind hides a deep insecurity that gives him much more depth:  He was abandoned by his human parents so he seeks humanity’s love.

 

Moana: You did everything for them so they’d love you.
Maui: It was never enough.

 

Moana insists: “The gods aren’t the ones who make you Maui, you are,” but it takes him some time to learn this lesson.

To regain his hook they journey to a towering stone island. There, Maui employs his superbreath then chants and dances on a stone face which opens and swallows them.

 

Moana: We’re going to the realm of monsters.
Maui: Don’t worry, it’s  a lot further down than it looks.
[Maui jumps in and screams with glee, Moana keeps looking down the opening]
Maui: I am still falling!

 

They land in a psychedelic realm of monsters where Moana knows nothing. This is a typical journey for the heroine, dragging her to the tall patriarchal tower where she has no power.

 

In many fairytales from Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” to “The Six Swans,” the heroine’s most dire struggle takes place high in the prince’s castle, far from the mysterious protection of the forest or ocean. This, like the wicked witch’s castle or the Death Star, is the world of order and tyranny, where the young heroine is truly helpless. Other heroines descend to the underworld: Lucy and Susan witness the White Witch murdering Aslan deep in the forest, while Lyra Belacqua crosses into the land of the dead. Katniss falls unconscious at the climax of all three of her own books. (Frankel, Chosen One, Kindle Locations 336-340).

 

Enemies include the greedy glittery giant crab Tamatoa and the violent but semi-inept coconut people, the Kakamora. The first is an enormous god with an enormous treasure pile; the latter construct massive ships. Both thus are symbols of patriarchy. Moana defeats both with agility and cleverness.

 

With an eco-conscious story favouring redemption over outright villainy, there’s just a bit less tugging on your heartstrings. As Disney baddies go, Jermaine Clement’s giant treasure-crazed crab Tamatoa is a ball of fun (‘Shiny’, his Bowie-ish disco celebration of all things bling, is a highlight). But he’s no Ursula the Sea Witch. (Stables)

 

While the coconuts and fish are dying because of a spreading evil and heartlessness, it resembles an oil slick. Thus a subtle environmental image appears as well.

The pair fight the lava god in the climactic battle with Moana providing the support for Maui’s heroic hawk flight. However, his brute force approach fails and his fishhook is damaged. At once, he decides that another blow would destroy all his power and he will not try again. When he leaves her, Moana’s courage and certainty vanish. She tells the ocean to choose someone else and returns the totem. As she despairs, her grandmother comes to her in a beautiful blue glowing manta ray and offers to guide her home. However, as her grandmother adds, “Scars can heal and reveal just where you are.” At this moment of comfort, Moana reconsiders. She reclaims the heart and her mantra changes to one of solo power: “I am Moana of Motusi. Aboard my boat, I will restore the heart to Te Fili.”

Though Maui’s frightened to fight and risk destroying his hook, though he does the right thing in the end. “Moana, I got your back! It’s Maui time!” he announces and flies into the crucial fight. “Hook, no hook, I’m Maui,” he concludes, basing his heroism on more than possessions.

“What resonates strongest as the story concludes, however, is its heart—as embodied by its title character, who forges her own path among both her people and her Disney sisterhood” (Gingold). Moana solves the riddle when she sees the ancient spiral on the lava goddess’s chest. “Let her come to me,” she tells the ocean. She faces this deadly force and responds with sympathy and love, comforting her and returning her heart to the spiral’s center. “They have stolen the heart from inside you. This is not who you are. You know who you are.” Her heart restored, the goddess turns green and loving once again.

The goddess sends her home in a pink and yellow flower covered boat. These are a reward, celebrating her feminine power as her island’s new heroine.

 

The full round, the norm of the monomyth, requires that the hero shall now begin the labor of bringing the runes of wisdom, the Golden Fleece, or his sleeping princess, back into the kingdom of humanity, where the boon may rebound to the renewing of the community, the nation, the planet, or the ten thousand worlds.4 Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces, 193.

 

Back home, Moana lays a pink conch on the stone pillar, acknowledging the tradition but making her own feminine mark. She then takes her people back to the ocean where she teaches both her prents navigation. In a pink feather dress, she’s achieved the next stage as, perhaps not a chief, but an explorer, leader, and teacher.

 

Unlike Queen Elsa, Moana does not undergo a coronation. She does become a wayfinder for her people to teach them to sail toward the horizon. But even without seeing Moana reach the status of chieftain, the audience understands that she heads a mile closer to her ascension. She does not wear the traditional headdress introduced in the opening, but she does wear a flower wreath, her own crown, suggesting that she both cherishes and transcends her traditions.

Moana reminds us that the Disney heroines—some of royal birth, ordinary bookworms, maidens—should be allowed to outgrow the title of Princess and the limitations instilled upon them. (Cao)

 

 

 

 

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973.

Cao, Caroline. “Moana Won’t Stay A Princess Forever.” BirthMoviesDeath, Nov. 30, 2016 http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2016/11/30/moana-wont-stay-a-princess-forever

Cirlot, J.E. A Dictionary of Symbols. New York: Routledge, 1971.

Frankel, Valerie Estelle. From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey in Myth and Legend. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co., 2010.

Gubgold, Michael. “Movie Review: MOANA Joins The Pantheon of Great Disney Heroines.” BirthMoviesDeath, Nov. 18, 2016 http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2016/11/18/movie-review-moana-joins-the-pantheon-of-great-disney-heroines

Jones, William History and Mystery of Precious Stones. London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1880.

Robinson, Tasha. “Moana review: after 80 years of experiments, Disney has made the perfect Disney movie” The Verge, 26 Nov. 2016. http://www.theverge.com/2016/11/26/13749060/moana-film-review-walt-disney-animation-dwayne-johnson-diversity

Shepherd, Rowena and Rupert. 1000 Symbols. New York: The Ivy Press, 2002.

Stables, Kate. MOANA REVIEW: “WAVE-TAMING MOANA GETS a TRUE HERO’S JOURNEY IN THIS SOUTH SEAS STUNNER” 28 Nov. 2016. http://www.gamesradar.com/moana-review/

Thomas, William and Kate Pavitt. The Book of Talismans, Amulets and Zodiacal Gems. London: William Rider & Son, Ltd., 1922. The Sacred Texts Archive. http://www.sacred-texts.com/sym/bot.

Walker, Barbara G. The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1988.

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Tools of the New Ancient One: Symbols and Easter Eggs in Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange began with a Wonder Woman trailer (among others) emphasizing how long Marvel is making us wait for a superheroine movie. At the same time, The Ancient One, Strange’s mentor, does a decent job bringing us this archetype; many of the symbolic tools she passes to her protégé are likewise strikingly feminine.
She begins the film in complete control (much like Wonder Woman in all we’ve seen of her). With spinning circles of golden light that she wields as blades, she decimates the foes led by Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius. Further, she has complete control of the world around her, bending and warping reality to entrap them. Finally, she ends the fight by summoning a golden wheel of spinning fire and walking through her portal without an extra breath spent.

Magic leaves sparkler trails when the characters gesture their way through spells, forming shields or whiplike weapons or cool patterns just for the showy hell of it. It makes the air crackle like a sheet of ice when they travel to the mirror dimension, which is like our dimension, only less easily damaged in fight scenes. Magic warps reality itself in Doctor Strange, making buildings fold in on themselves and streets bend and curve in impossible directions, twisting and turning like the world is a Rubik’s Cube in the hands of an impatient child. It allows rooms to stretch out like elastic, then snap back into shape. (Willmore).

Saffron robes suggest enlightenment and, with the hood drawn up, mystery. She’s cool, in a way Doctor Strange longs to become.Meanwhile s bald woman is surprising, suggesting an androgynous hybrid.

“Look, she’s a chameleon in everything she does,” says Feige of Swinton, whose credits include Snowpiercer, Trainwreck, and 1992’s Orlando, in which her character transformed from male to female. “She has this amazing [ability to] harness of this androgynous sense. So, we use the term ‘her’ and ‘she’ in the film but, other than that, it’s very androgynous. Because it doesn’t matter.” (Collis)

The androgene, in myth, is a magical person, with skills and wisdom of both genders. Thus She will teach Doctor Strange how to use his hidden feminine side, all while battling male foes on the battlefield. When EW asked Swinton whether she is playing a man or a woman, the actress responded, that “I wouldn’t know how to answer that one. I think it’s all in the eye of the beholder” (Collis).

Her perfect poise, supported with dramatic music, then switches to more popular tunes as Strange appears in his operating room. This dramatic juxtaposition emphasizes their contrast: She has devoted her life to serving the world, but he is still very much part of it, seeking fame and material success. When he’s crippled, Pangborn sends him to Kamar-Taj in Kathmandu, a place of “gurus and sacred women” where he can learn magic.

Casting a forty-year-old white woman as “The Ancient One” of Kathmandu subverts all expectations. When Strange meets her, she’s quietly serving tea, while he logically assumes the seated elderly Asian man is the ancient one. She corrects him with a self-aware smirk. Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) has told Strange at the gate, “Stephen Strange, might I offer you some advice? Forget everything that you think you know.” However, Strange is still surprised over and over.
Of course, casting Tilda Swinton (however excellent a job she does) is a problematic moment of whitewashing.

It is absolutely unsurprising that Swinton is terrific in the role — embodying ageless beings is one of her many strong suits, from her gender-switching, century-spanning turn in Orlando to her patchouli-scented vampire in Only Lovers Left Alive. But not even the rewarding sight of a mischievous, hairless Swinton informing the film’s self-centered protagonist, “It’s not about you,” can obscure the point that Doctor Strange has missed. The film doesn’t actually get away from the cliché of a white guy soaking up Eastern wisdom and turning out to be a more gifted practitioner than the people it originated from. It just scoops out and replaces the character who’d traditionally be the source of all that wisdom, rather than figure out a way to improve and deepen him. In doing so, Doctor Strange ends up treating Asianness like it’s a lifestyle choice rather than having anything to do with culture or race. (Willmore)

Destroying the themes of the “Tibetan-mystic-hidden in-the-mountains,” stereotype by subverting age, costume, and gender rather than race would make a much more progressive statement. Likewise, Wong, while an amusing character who now has a much less subservient personality, was mostly left out of advertising and trailers. This when Daredevil fights hordes of faceless ninjas and Iron Fist also has disturbing racial questions makes the MCU seem more than a little backwards.
In fact, the entire movie has cultural stereotyping throughout: “It calls upon a classic kind of Orientalism, blurring culture to revel in a vague sense of Asian exoticism without bothering with specifics, and, more pressingly, without the people,” Allison Willmore explains. As she adds:

The worst of those half-steps is also a matter of visuals. Kamar-Taj is a mishmash of Asiana — it’s in Nepal, but its residents like clothing that’s Japanese-inspired, especially in the combination of robes and the obi-like sash favored by the villain Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a former Ancient One pupil gone wrong. Strange, upon arriving, is shown a book in which an MRI chart is placed alongside a chakra and acupuncture one. The latticework panels that line the walls look like chinoiserie, while the courtyard seems modeled after a Buddhist temple. The saffron garb the Ancient One is first spotted in seems to recall those of a Buddhist monk as well, though it’s not religion she teaches, per se — more a new way of looking at the universe. Christine, when she re-encounters Strange, muses that it sounds like he’s joined a cult, and Kamar-Taj does, at times, feel like a particularly demanding meditation retreat.

Of course, the institute continues to subvert expectations: its students come from many races, especially the Black character Mordo, who’s generally front and center. Later, Mordo hands Strange a card with Shamballa written on it, but denies Strange’s guess that it’s a mantra he should meditate to, saying, “It’s the wi-fi password. We’re not savages.” Wong, who actually has a quirky sense of humor, listens to Beyoncé.
Nonetheless, Strange is instantly skeptical of the Ancient One’s teachings. She shows him a chakra chart beside an acupuncture chart and an MRI, emphasizing that each artist has part of the puzzle – spiritual knowledge is as valid as science. Of course, Western medicine is notoriously skeptical of acupuncture and Strange complains that he’s seen the Chakra drawings in gift shops (a valid complaint, as the deep spiritual practice has gone mainstream). He insists, “I don’t believe in fairytales about chakras or energy or the power of belief.”
If these stories are all about a chosen one who can save the world, the Ancient One is the chooser. She eyes a skeptical Strange. “You wonder what I see in your future? Possibility.” When he dares to shove her in anger, she then pushes his astral form out from his body.  Strange is still skeptical, demanding, “Did you put mushrooms in my tea? Was my tea drugged?” However, she responds calmly that it’s “Just tea. With honey.” She needn’t use magician’s props because she’s already magic incarnate. As she explains, she had to show him a deeper reality. “You’re a man looking at the world through a keyhole. You’ve spent your life trying to widen it. Your work saved the lives of thousands. What if I told you that reality is one of many?” She also opens his third eye, through only her touch. After she pushed him through a tangle of alternate dimensions, overwhelming in their majesty and horror, he’s convinced. “Magic sends the movie’s title character, Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), spinning through the cosmos, through black-light multiverse dimensions, and through the pupil of his own giant eyeball. The look is a little bit The Matrix, a little bit Inception, a little bit Dark City, and all acid trip” (Willmore). First he’s hurled into space, overlooking the planets, with a gently flapping butterfly. These delicate creatures symbolized the soul, but Strange cannot grasp it before he tumbles away. There’s a dark world of purple, a magical one that’s blue with psychedelic colors. Glowing blue crystals suggest the heavenly serenity he lacks but that awaits him.
Through the trip, she maintains complete control, hauling his body back for a moment to examine it, then throwing him back into the cosmos. She narrates, like the overarching form of god – a mother who can pick up and put down that baby as she pleases. At last, he returns, stunned. She smiles, “Have you seen that at a gift shop?”
He falls at her feet, humbled and gasping. “Teach me.”
She considers for a moment. “No.”
Her people throw him out, and he must humble himself at her door, accept that he knows nothing and show his determination before he’s finally welcomed. In a vivid symbol, his watch is as shattered as he is. Since it’s from Christine, it symbolizes her love, which Strange holds onto even though it’s destroyed. Watches symbolize man’s preoccupation with time – they are artificial and Strange keeps his all locked in a drawer, suggesting a control over these trophies. When he approaches Kamar-Taj, it’s shattered, emphasizing that he will have to throw away such physical controls.
Mordo describes the Ancient One as unpredictable and “merciless yet kind” – a host of contradictions indicating her multifaceted nature. The mentor understands the workings of the universe in a way the untried hero does not. In many ways, becoming a spiritual tutor is more of a women’s role, and especially appropriate for the mature man. The elderly Dumbledore, Gandalf, or Obi-Wan teaches the young hero to use his powers but also shows him how to grow up. Strange is already grown, and all his training has focused on the physical world of prestige and control. He knows science and has built a reputation based in his accomplishments. Thus the spiritual woman can introduce him to his untapped mystical, self-effacing side.
When their lessons begin, she opens a classic protective circle with the nine sephirot inside. Etz Chiym, the Tree of Life, is the symbol at the heart of the Kabbalah. It encapsulates creation, existence and the return to the Divine in ten spheres called sephirot and the twenty-two paths through which they interrelate. The sephirot are the 10 attributes/emanations in Kabbalah, through which Ein Sof (The Infinite) reveals himself:
Keter, the Divine Crown
Hokhmah, Wisdom
Binah, Understanding
Hesed, Mercy
Din, Justice
Tif’eret, Beauty
Nezah, Eternity
Hod, Glory
Yesod, Foundation
Shekhinah, God’s Presence in the World

They emphasize a path to enlightenment through selflessness and awareness of the universe – traits Strange most needs to acquire. The shape is also connected to the World Symbol – the entire world order (consisting of spheres) held together by “a mysterious, unseen central force that the Hindus called Maya – the Goddess who created the material universe” (Walker 63). The World Tree of Thor’s Norse mythology has a similar image.
The most basic magic is the portal, a fiery wheel conjured with a double-circled finger ring. Circles are particularly feminine symbols, suggesting the lifecycle. “The universe begins with roundness; so say the myths,” Walker says. “The great circle, the cosmic egg, the bubble, the spiral, the moon, the zero, the wheel of time, the infinite womb; such are the symbols that try to express a human sense of the wholeness of things” (2). Gauntlets, wristbands (seen later) and rings accentuate the acts of the hands – symbol of active power. Thus the physical power is augmented with the spiritual, something that confuses Strange, who’s certain his shaking hands are stopping him from achieving the latter.
Hands are a masculine symbol, indicating the worker and emphasizing his effect on his environment. Strange has loss the full use of this physical tool and thus must replace it with mental and spiritual ones. When the Ancient One has Master Hamir show that he can do magic with one hand missing, she teaches that physical power is not the only form of strength. She thus teaches him to surrender his will rather than trying to impose it on the world. She also abandons him on Mount Everest, a place higher and physically mightier than he is, to emphasize he will not win with physical gifts.
When Mordo spars with Strange, he orders him to defend himself, and Strange creates his first weapon – a glowing cord stretched between his hands. In ancient myth, cords bound the earth to the heavens and people’s minds to their reason. Ropes thus emphasize interconnection and bonds between body and spirit. The Fates spun a lifeline for each person, and the Egyptian goddess Hathor bound sinners in glowing ribbons. They can also represent the umbilical cord, connecting each person with the divine mother. In Greece, “Ariadne’s thread leading Theseus through the Labyrinth (into the darkness and out again) represented the rebirth journey” (Walker 130). Strange is operating under the Divine Mother’s guidance and also trying to connect with the people around him, leading himself at last in a journey of rebirth.
The Ancient One also offers Strange the Mirror Dimension, where he can train without affecting the physical world. Once again this is a feminine symbol of her power and spirituality, one Doctor Strange uses under her guidance:

Rather than a sign of vanity, this mirror was a divine soul-catcher, or passage to the spirit world, as it was considered universally. Amaterasu’s mirror is her shotai, her god-body. When she bestows it on her grandson, earliest emperor of Japan, she says, “My child, when thou lookest upon this mirror,
let it be as if thou wert looking on me. Let it be with thee on thy couch and in thy hall, and let it be to thee a holy mirror.” Today it is the most sacred image of her at her shrine at Ise.16 Celtic women were buried with their mirrors, as a gateway to the afterlife, and Buddhist and Christian teachings describe
a future in which we can see beyond the shallow reflection of our current existence. Snow White’s stepmother seeks her mirror’s advice as from an oracle, and some magicians trap their victims as “slaves of the mirror” forever. In Egypt, the word for life and mirror is the same (ankh). One reflects the other. In fact, the ankh symbol is an image of the goddess, round head over outstretched arms and upright body. It became known in Egypt as a symbol of sexual union, feminine circle and male cross united. Thus it came to represent immortality, worn by the gods to show their eternal life. (Frankel 47-48)

Mordo tells Doctor Strange that nothing more is known about her “except that she’s Celtic” and really, really old.
While Strange is most closely associated with the Book of Vishanti, the plot begins when the villains steal an incantation taken from the Book of Cagliostro, a magical text penned in the late 18th century that gathers mystical knowledge from countless sources. Books obviously symbolize the intellect and all the wisdom Strange must aquire, so he reads as many as he can. Nonetheless, Strange finds the juxtapositions of science and the occult frustrating:

Dr. Stephen Strange: [on magic] This doesn’t make any sense.
The Ancient One: Not everything does. Not everything has to.

The Ancient One teaches him that he must start over – study and practice his skills as he did through all the years of medical school, but this time take a different path. Instantly, Strange starts cheating the system, learning how to use the mystic Eye of Agamotto to tamper with time. His teachers are aghast, telling him he isn’t just warping time but breaking it and could be stuck in a time loop forever.
The eye as a protective charm is seen most as the Middle Eastern Hamsa/Hand of Fatima or witches’ Evil Eye. Barbara Walker describes the eye as the judging stare of the crone, or the essential eye contact between mother and baby – a formative image that lingers with the child long into adulthood. “So many ancient traditions identify the birth-giving goddess with the All-Seeing Eye that there might well be an archetypal connection” (308). The Hamsa (a protective hand with a blue eye in the center) uses this magic to ward off evil forces. Thus Strange’s long-prized amulet connects him with the mystical feminine side of reality. Its green light suggests the mystic and arcane. The design remains similar to that in the comics, albeit with the addition of the Seal of the Vishanti over the top of the eye. Steve Ditko in fact drew inspiration from the real world charm The All Seeing Eye of the Buddha, which protected its wearer against evil.
When there’s an attack, he stumbles through a portal into the New York Sanctum, wearing the Eye of Agamotto. He fights the invaders with his cord, but they transform the building around him, suggesting a command over reality itself. He summons light wheels like those of his teachers’ but they’re clumsy. He hasn’t yet mastered the magic. Only when he fights them using the world as a tool – switching the portal to different locations – does he succeed. He fights them with a kind of torch with a bowllike cauldron on the end. Kaecilius smirks. “You don’t know how to use that, do you?” Of course, the is another feminine symbol, combining the bowl of the womb with the flame of enlightenment — Strange can’t yet master either. Kaecilius smashes him into a display case, where the Cloak of Levitation escapes and protects him.
A cloak suggests disguise and concealment – feminine attributes in folklore. Red is often the color of the mature woman, the mother, brimming with life energy, while his tunic, blue as the sky, suggests spiritual enlightenment. In classic art, the Virgin Mary wears a blue cloak and red robe – the reversal of Doctor Strange. The Cloak of Levitation shields Strange from blows and drags him to the weapons room where it pulls him away from swords and spears of physical, masculine battle, in favor of a more defensive straightjacket.
With Kaecilius entrapped, the men talk and Strange discovers Kaecilius has an agenda much like his own – to end mankind’s suffering and death. When he calls life “little sparks,” Strange must accept that they think the same way. Nonetheless, he defies Kaecilius, insisting, “The Sorcerer Supreme defends existence.” When his enemies wound him, he portals back to Christine and gets her help in healing him as he fights on the astral plane. Nonetheless, he blends his old world and new, using the defibrillator to power his astral self.
At last the cavalry comes and Strange flings himself, Mordo, and the enemies into the mirror world. To his shock, however, they are stronger there. The heroes are losing, tossed around a shifting reality, until, suddenly, the Ancient One joins the fight. Instantly, she takes control, creating a swirling stable patterned floor underneath them. Her symbol is reminiscent of the Celtic triquetra, three circular arcs enclosed by a circle, reflecting a protective Pagan or Christian trinity. Her glowing circle weapons become fans, a feminine image of defense and concealment. At once, Mordo realizes she wields the power of darkness as well as light. However, Strange realizes that everyone compromises, that her knowledge of darkness has made her more equipped to fight. This lesson appears in stories of Hulk and Daredevil, but Mordo rejects it. Meanwhile, the Ancient One fights valiantly, but is defeated.
Strange brings her to the hospital, and finally humbles himself to ask Doctor West for help – he’s learning to let go. When he sees the Ancient One’s astral form float away as his team operates, he follows. Under a sky full of stars and snowflakes, with flashes of lightning, they talk. Winter signifies age and death – an ending to things. Lightning is conflict, magic, emotion – all the things Strange stands poised to embrace. Stars suggest the infinite. There, the Ancient One tells Strange he must choose between medicine and magic. She also must tell him, “Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all…It’s not about you.”
He takes this lesson to heart for the final conflict. He uses the Eye to save the innocents around the Taiwan Institute, then fashions himself, not a weapon but a simple protective device. His green armbands of looped time break all the rules, much as his teacher did. Like her methods, they’re effective. They suggest the arcane power of magic combined with the simple human magic of his long-shattered watch, now restored to a stronger, if different form – like himself.
Using his own cleverness and instance on breaking rules, he flies off to confront the smoky-headed Dormammu. The image for this head is actually Cumberbatch’s, emphasizing that he’s the tiny voice of reason and altruism within, battling his monstrous, selfish greed. The world around them is purple with bruise-colored spheres like a wound…or like dark magic. This is the enemy’s stronghold, where the hero has no power. Thus Dormammu kills him over and over. Sometimes the hero’s task is to endure, weaponless, to sacrifice all he has to save innocents. This Strange does, dying over and over to prolong life on earth, saying only “Dormammu, I’ve come to bargain,” until he wears down the villain with his passive resistance. On a few occasions, he defends himself with golden shields, suggesting a new mastery, but each time, he dies. He’s at last learned to surrender his will, saying “I could lose again and again and again forever.” At this, Dormammu finally gives in.
Returning to earth, Strange does not kill Kaecilius and his goons, but gives them what they always wanted — eternal life as part of the one they worship. He has saved the world as mastered the powers of his master, the Sorcerer Supreme. Nonetheless, he sets aside the Eye of Agamotto until he’s ready. Since it’s an Infinity Stone, this suggests setting aside entry into the MCU multifilm conflict, though his time will come soon enough.

If you enjoyed this analysis, do check out more with The Avengers Face Their Dark Sides: Mastering the Myth-Making behind the Marvel Superheroes https://www.amazon.com/Avengers-Face-Their-Dark-Sides/dp/0692432450
Easter Eggs

• Doctor Strange first appeared in Strange Tales #110 in 1963, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. His origin story only came in his fourth appearance, in Strange Tales #115. The movie plot is about right.
• In the comics, the book was stolen by Baron Mordo so he could use its power to defeat the Ancient One. In the movie, Kaecilius takes his place, but Mordo makes the journey to villain through the film. In Strange Tales, Kaecilius is one of Mordo’s disciples. Here he takes Mordo’s place as villain, while Mordo gets a more extensive origin story. In the comics, the book contains the knowledge to control time. In the movie, it explains how to use the Eye of Agamotto to achieve the same end.
• In the comics Christine Palmer is actually the name of one of the Night Nurses (there have been three). Another Night Nurse is Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), the ER nurse who ends up helping out the various members of the future Defenders during their shows.
• The song playing while Strange has his life-changing car crash is the psychedelic rock classic “Interstellar Overdrive” (1967) by Pink Floyd. The band featured artwork from Strange Tales #158 on the cover of their second album, A Saucerful of Secrets (1968), which featured the Living Tribunal.
• Some of Dr. Stephen Strange’s prospective surgical patients include an Air Force colonel injured in a suit of armor. The timing is wrong for Col. James Rhodes, aka War Machine. But it might be the soldier who was injured testing Justin Hammer’s Iron Man armor back in Iron Man 2, shown in the courtroom scene. Strange rejects an elderly woman to preserve his statistics and is also told about a young woman with schizophrenia and an inhibitor chip who was struck by lightning. This last might be significant — Lodestone and Nebula have had implants to either control or enhance them.
• Dr. Nick West, who in the movie has a rivalry with Doctor Strange, is based on Nicodemus West, a doctor who, in the comics cannot save Strange’s hands after his car accident. West is a prominent character in The Oath (2007), a popular five-issue Doctor Strange miniseries by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin, which heavily influenced the tone of the movie
• The scene where Strange wakes in the hospital bed is framed in homage to this cover shot comes from Brandon Peterson’s run on Doctor Strange, which shows the car crash origin.
• A few throwaway lines from the Ancient One recall some of Strange’s comics titles. She refers to “the language of the mystic arts,” and Doc is known as the “master of the mystic arts” in the comics. Her title is Sorcerer Supreme, eventually his own.
• Wong connects Strange to the larger Marvel universe when he explains, “Heroes like the Avengers protect the world from physical dangers. We safeguard it against more mystical threats.”
• Avengers Tower appears in its rightful place as part of the New York City skyline.
• The Ancient One’s home of Kamar-Taj has always been part of the story, though it wasn’t named until much later in the comics.
• When Strange is finally allowed to stay with The Ancient One, Mordo hands him a piece of paper with “Shamballa” written on it. Mordo deadpans that it is the Wi-Fi password. It also nods to the famous Doctor Strange storyline “Into Shamballa”, in which Strange was given the chance to shepherd in a golden age for mankind, but at a cost so severe he couldn’t bear to pay it. This reflects the theme of this film – the cost of power.
• Many theorize that Ejiofor’s role is a combination of Doctor Voodoo, the Houngan Supreme (like a Sorcerer Supreme, but for Voodoo), and Baron Mordo.
• Wong first appeared in Strange Tales #110, as a stereotypical servant, who could fight but not use magic. Here he’s been updated with more of a personality, a position of authority, and Sorcerer powers.
• Trying to break the ice with Wong, Doctor Strange asks if he just has a single name “like Adele” and then proceeds to mention Bono, Eminem and Drake as well as Aristotle, getting in piles of pop culture. When the pair meet again, Strange compares Wong to Beyoncé, a comment Wong ignores, then later he’s seen listening to her on his walkman.
• The Book of Vishanti is “off limits” to Strange until he steals it from Wong. In the comics, The Vishanti are a trio of benevolent Gods from the multiverse. Agamotto was appointed by the Vishanti before ascending to become one of them.
• An Extra called Clem So with long white hair also appears as one of the sorcerers – he was in Guardians Of The Galaxy in the prison, with the artificial leg.
• One of the mages at Kamar-Taj is Tina Minoru (played by Linda Louise Duan). She is a link to The Runaways comics universe, since she is the mother of teen heroine Nico Minoru. Tina wields the Staff of One, which she eventually leaves to Nico.
• Master Hamir – the sorcerer with one hand – is an allusion to Hamir the Hermit. In early issues of Strange Tales, he was the Ancient One’s personal servant and later the father of Wong.
• Mordo wears the Vaulting Boots of Valtorr — Valtorr is a powerful mystical entity Strange invokes repeatedly in the comics.
• The Living Tribunal may not have a staff, but his existence is set up here. In comics, he’s powerful enough to battle the Infinity Gauntlet.
• The Book of Cagliostro comes out of the Steve Englehart/Frank Brunner Doctor Strange comics
• Doc’s Sanctum Sanctorum at 177a Bleecker Street with its distinctive window with the Sanctum rune appears. From the very first story it was listed as being in Greenwich Village, a more bohemian and dangerous place in 1963 than currently.
• There was initially going to be an Easter Egg specifically pointing to The Black Knight. The New York Sanctum includes the Black Knight’s headwear.
• The Crimson Bands Of Cyttorak is a spell that sends red coloured bands of energy out of Strange’s hands like whips to bind his enemies. His magical cord weapon seems reminiscent of this.
• Doctor Strange was given the Cloak of Levitation by the Ancient One at the conclusion of his second battle with Dormammu (in Strange Tales #127), and he kept the look ever since. the Eye of Agamotto is his best-known accessory.
• Doctor Strange and Mordo’s outfits are closely modelled on their traditional comic book looks, from the former’s white streaks in his hair, blue belted tunic and flowing red cape to Mordo’s green robes.
• The Oath echoes the movie scene in which Christine Palmer operates on Strange while speaking to his astral form. Both star Palmer, though in the comics, she’s Night Nurse.
• From Doctor Strange’s first appearance he’s doing astral projection. The astral plane fistfight is right out of Strange Tales #111, in which Strange and Mordo battle, knocking each other through walls and so forth.
• The Ancient One is first introduced in Strange Tales #110, as Doctor Strange consults with him before taking on a case. The Ancient One in the comics does draw power from the Dark Dimension – his name is often uttered in various spells and incantations by both Doctor Strange and The Ancient One.
• In Steve Englehart and Frank Brunner’s A Separate Reality, the Ancient One gives Strange a mysterious metaphysical pep talk then dies.
• While the smoky-headed Dormammu didn’t appear until Strange Tales #126, he was mentioned all the time and is Strange’s most well-known foe
• The Eye of Agamotto, which can manipulate time, is finally revealed as the Time Stone, one of the Infinity Stones — only the Soul Stone now remains unaccounted for in the MCU.
• The Master of the New York Sanctum is referred to as Drumm. This is Daniel Drumm, the brother of Jericho Drumm, Brother Voodoo, a heroic sorcerer in the Marvel comics.
• When he prepares for battle, Wong is seen grabbing a kind of magical staff, in fact, the Wand of Watoomb.
• Strange’s original artist – Steve Ditko – gets homages with some of the art, especially The Dark Dimension. The tiny Doctor in the world of strange connected spheres is all him.
• Strange slams into the side of a bus on which Stan Lee is reading Aldous Huxley’s 1954 essay, The Doors of Perception, an account of using mescaline, which is a hallucinogen similar to LSD. This references the trippy quality of Steve Ditko’s early work on Strange, and the sixties counterculture it foreshadowed.
• There are a significant number of similarities between this film and the animated Doctor Strange film from 2007. In both, Dr Strange is taught personally by the Ancient One about reality warping, and by Wong, and the Ancient One’s disciples travel the world. Strange also has a female “sidekick,” with Gina Atwater instead of Christine Palmer. In both, Baron Mordo is black and develops a resentment for what Strange and his fellow Sorcerers have become.
• The facial capture for Dormammu was performed by Benedict Cumberbatch, while the voice was provided by an unidentified British actor.
The more I thought about it the more I liked the idea,” said Derrickson. “Because no one understood Dormammu better than Benedict did. I also wrote that role to be a kind of ultra-inflated version of Strange. He is an ego run amok; he is this cosmic conqueror where everything, where literally everything in the multi-verse is about him.There’s something interesting about this confrontation of this little, tiny guy who has this power of time and this monstrous conqueror who is trapped by a clever gambit. There’s something about that worked well, and I didn’t think anybody to interact with Benedict than he, himself.” (“13 Coolest”)
• In the comics too Strange and Dormammu are forced into a pact when Strange helps save the demon from the Mindless Ones and Dormammu is forced to agree not to ever attack Earth again.
• When Kaecilius and his associates are banished into the Dark Dimension, they transform into blob-like, one-eyed creatures known as the Mindless Ones. These extra-dimensional creatures with no will of their own attack many Marvel characters. They may appear in films to come.
• The warnings come after the instructions repeatedly…and at the film’s end, there’s another warning – this one about distracted driving.
• Thor appears in the first post-credits scene and sets up Thor: Ragnarok, as he searches for his father, Odin. Strange did team-up with Thor in an early story involving Loki.
• The second post-credits scene shows Mordo’s development as a villain. In the comics, Mordo is Doctor Strange’s rival, introduced in Strange Tales #111, with an origin story in Strange Tales #115.

If you enjoyed this analysis, do check out more with The Avengers Face Their Dark Sides: Mastering the Myth-Making behind the Marvel Superheroes https://www.amazon.com/Avengers-Face-Their-Dark-Sides/dp/0692432450

Works Cited
“13 Coolest Doctor Strange Easter Eggs, References, and Trivia.” IGN, 26 Oct 2016 http://www.ign.com/articles/2016/10/26/13-coolest-doctor-strange-easter-eggs-references-and-trivia?page=1. Web.
Collis, Clark. “Tilda Swinton Says her Doctor Strange character’s Gender Is ‘in the eye of the beholder’” EW, 30 Dec 2015. http://www.ew.com/article/2015/12/30/doctor-strange-tilda-swinton-ancient-one. Web.

Frankel, Valerie Estelle. From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey in Myth and Legend. McFarland and Co., 2010. Print.
Walker, Barbara G. The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects. Harper, 1988. Print.
Willmore, Alison. “The Incredible Visuals and Unfortunate Orientalism of “Doctor Strange.” BuzzFeed, 27 Oct., 2016. https://www.buzzfeed.com/alisonwillmore/doctor-strange-review. Web.

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