It might be safe to say that Doctor Strange is going to take the idea of reinventing its source material far further than any other Marvel movie has done so far. Stephen Strange’s journey won’t be entirely familiar to anyone who grew up reading his adventures every month, as director Scott Derrickson has turned the world of the Sorcerer Supreme completely upside down.
The Ancient One has had a gender swap. Wong is more ass-kicker than faithful confidante and the infamous Baron Mordo is now one of Strange’s greatest allies. Chiwetel Ejiofor portrays Baron Mordo in Doctor Strange, a character who in the comics usually exists as a foil to the magic man as one of his greatest and most persistent of foes.
Speaking to Collider, Ejiofor described how he used the two-dimensional nature of the comics to create a more three-dimensional character. “The source material was very helpful in terms of trying to construct an overall understanding of him and his relationship to the place, Kamar-Taj, and his relationship to the Ancient One,” Ejiofor said.
Of course in the source material, it’s a much more two-dimensional story in some ways. But one of the richest things of this is finding the other space and really trying to create something that’s very three-dimensional and a person who has a real history and a real background and, as in the comics, has a very good relationship with Kamar-Taj and the Ancient One and by extension Strange himself.
So I definitely thought about the character in terms of comics and really understanding the ways in which the character changed and still keep the essence of who he is and add this more three-dimensional aspect to him.
And in this first Doctor Strange movie, there’s going to be a very tight-knit bond between Strange and Mordo that grows throughout the film. “He is one of the first allies to Strange and he wants to bring him into this community, this very special, knit community, and see if Strange can fit in and create a home for him there–a place where he can learn the skills of Kamar-Taj and get in contact with these forms,” Ejiofor explained.
I think that Mordo is the first to recognize the potential in strange and becomes his primary advocate, initially. Their relationship is complicated. In some ways they’re quite similar but that lends itself to tensions between them. But overall he is the tutor that really brings him in.
I think it starts with Strange as the pupil. Strange is somebody who is trying to find out what all of these things are and find the secrets of these place. And I think it develops into something deeper and richer. Yes there is a camaraderie but it’s also a kind of mutual respect as they gain an understanding of each other.
And also with the problems that they face and the enemies that they face and their ability to work together to triumph or try to win means that they have a bond. I think the three of them develop this bond with the Ancient One, this mutual respect.
Mordo would eventually succumb to jealousy regarding Stephen Strange as he was chosen to become Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme. But Ejiofor reckons that an entirely different motive will eventually drive Mordo to turn his back on Strange and pursue a lifelong vendetta against him. “There’s an enormous amount of respect and dedication to the cause and to the Ancient One specifically, who is, for whatever version of hell Mordo was blown in from, which probably isn’t a million miles away, psychologically, from Strange’s journey, in terms of finding it impossible to continue,” Ejiofor said.
He had to find something else, something new, something radical to restructure oneself. I don’t think of him as a kind of envious or jealous entity. I think he’s much purer than that. That’s what I mean by the comics create a slightly more two-dimensional aspect.
But the place, Kamar-Taj, what it means and what it means to Mordo, is so strong and his defense of it is so deep and his loyalty is so committed–to the ideas of Kamar-Taj, to the reality of Kamar-Taj, and to the Ancient One that he would react to any perceived threat but it wouldn’t come from a place of envy but from a place of protection and loyalty.
One other aspect of Mordo that you can expect? That this master mage isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty between a few rounds of spell-weaving. “There’s a lot of physicality in the film. It’s a really important part of the story. When we bring in Strange to this world, the first thing we introduce him to is the physicality of the world, how we create these other dimensions and the magic that we do,” Ejiofor explained.
And also the physicality of how we fight and what our combat stances are. So very immediately he’s introduced into a physical world and that affects all of the characters in the space, regardless of what we’re doing. All of that is fundamental. The physicality is fundamental to these characters and what Strange has to learn in.
Last Updated: October 5, 2016