Director Scott Derrrickson talks DOCTOR STRANGE – Mysticism and martial arts

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Doctor Strange is a character who brings with him a unique skillset to any situation. While Iron Man has armour and the Hulk has the power of million exploding protein shakes, the mystical nature of Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme sets him apart from his fellow heroes. Magic is also a resource that we’ve seen next to nothing of so far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It was briefly hinted at in the Thor movies as Loki weaved a few illusions, but the kind of magic that could be used to travel distances instantly or reshape reality itself? Now that’d be something fresh and exciting in the MCU. Speaking to Collider, Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson explained how Marvel addressed such supernatural power in a universe that is mostly grounded in this reality.

“Preserving the idea of magic was really important to me that we didn’t try to explain it away or root it all in something scientific that by definition is not magic to me,” Derrickson said to Collider.

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There’s also the burden of popular magic movies, the Harry Potter series, the Lord of the Rings, which appropriate magic in a very familiar, traditional way. And the comics had a few ideas in them that were to this day still very original. Those ideas we’re using and the rest of it was also was very traditional in the use of spells and even some of the imagery. So my, for me the starting point was what kind of things have we not seen in cinema?

That we could, was almost working backwards. What kind of imagery, what kind of action could be created in cinema that we haven’t seen? And I started from that place and looked for a way to tie that in to magic. And some of those ideas didn’t tie in well and some of those ideas tied in surprisingly well. The ones that tied in really well, those became the major set pieces for the movie.

Wizards in training don’t just rely on magic to keep them ahead of the competition in Doctor Strange however, as martial arts go hand in hand with finger gestures that look like they belong at an AC/DC concert. “Yeah. There’s definitely a martial arts influence on the movie. Because that is the action that I like for starters,” Derrickson explained.

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It is also the martial arts, martial arts is the kind of action that does tie in well to the supernatural. There’s a whole, that is a whole subgenre within martial arts cinema. The supernatural martial arts movie. Particularly within Asian cinema. And I felt like when it came to fighting in the movie that just made sense to certainly to go in that direction and stay away from gunfire and things like that.

And to avoid having fighting be the casting of bolts of light. I just, you know, that was another thing where I feel like I really feel like magic has been, we’ve been drawing on the Emperor in Star Wars for over 30 years, and so we gotta start doing this some other way — the magic power, the utilization of magic power.

But yeah, it’s there’s some good fighting in it. But that fighting is again, always within a context of something I think more fantastical and more surreal and more mind trippy than just the supernatural action of combat. That’s I think that’s it’s always supernatural action, combat, fighting within a larger surreal canvas. That was the thing I always wanted to preserve so that we’re never just watching fighting.

Mister Doctor Strange is out next month and stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Scott Adkins, Amy Landecker and Benedict Wong. It’s looking magical so far.

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Last Updated: September 29, 2016

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia's M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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