That is fine.
It’s also safe to say that some other people will sneer at these women, saying they’re not “real fans” or that they’re “fake geek girls” and, I don’t know, Gamergate will probably come up and there will be talk about making sandwiches.
That is not fine.
No matter what, “Doctor Strange” is worth seeing. Its closest kin in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is “Thor” — it’s another amusing, quippy, fast-paced story about a superhero many people might not know much about. The visuals are outstanding. Moreover, “Strange” is like “Guardians of the Galaxy” in that it works perfectly well as a stand-alone film; the Avengers get nothing more than a brief mention and a shot of their skyscraper. If someone wants to go simply because they want to see if Cumberbatch takes his shirt off, it’s two hours well spent. Also, going simply to see if Cumberbatch takes his shirt off is a perfectly valid reason.
Anyone who sees “Doctor Strange” and likes it is a fan of the film, full stop, regardless of whether she’s read any of the “Doctor Strange” comics (or any comics at all) or has seen any of the MCU movies or knows what an Infinity Stone is. Making fandom conditional only says to someone that whatever joy they take from “Doctor Strange” isn’t real — being able to spell “Eye of Agamotto” on the first try isn’t some sort of shibboleth separating those who appreciate “Doctor Strange” as part of Marvel’s multiverse canon and those who appreciate “Doctor Strange” as a way to possibly see Benedict Cumberbatch with his shirt off.
We’re probably going to get plenty of think pieces asking if “Doctor Strange” will persuade more women to buy comic books, setting the movie up as a bridge to actual, worthy fandom. That’s not the point of the movie. Maybe some women will get into comics (I’d steer them to titles like “Lazarus,” “Bitch Planet” and “Paper Girls”). But to treat women who see “Doctor Strange” as nothing more than potential comic book buyers, ready to be escorted into some higher dimension of appreciation, does them just as much a disservice as sneering at them for going to see the movie solely because of the potential of shirtless Cumberbatch.
Deciding who’s seeing “Doctor Strange” for the “right” reasons and sniffing at those seeing it for the “wrong” ones smacks of the elitism of fandom that has worked against women for so long. Let others see the movie for their reasons, while you see it for yours. And then quit your Cumberbitching.
More Reelists from Kristen Page-Kirby