Did you miss us? We took some time off from the site to experience the magic of Christmas with our loved ones, but while we did that Marvel was also all about the Christmas magic. Specifically the magic belonging to their Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange, as they revealed the first official pics (via EW) of Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character in all his magical glory, along with some new concept art. And by the whorey host of Ho-goth, he looks damn cool!
I love how they’re just running full tilt with his comic book look – like that distinctive supafly collar – and not trying to ground it too much. It really makes him stand out from the rest of the Marvel heroes. But while looking cool and eye-catching is one thing, it’s absolutely pointless if if you’re not also doing cool and eye-catching stuff as well. And boy can Doctor Strange do stuff! While is he starts out merely as a disillusioned surgeon, Strange eventually becomes the Sorcerer Supreme – essentially the most powerful magical practioner in our dimension (yes, there are other dimensions) – which gives him a host of abilities, as Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige explained to EW:
“He can do a whole host of things, eventually. He does cast spells, which in the comics have very sort of tongue-twisty fun names. We don’t want to shy away from that, because that’s what makes Doctor Strange Doctor Strange. He has a Cloak of Levitation that allows him to fly, but he doesn’t fly like Superman or like Thor. It’s almost got a consciousness of its own, this cloak, which, again, gives us a superhero with a red cape — which we’ve seen a few times — but allows us to do it in a wholly unique and wholly original way. He can create these mandalas of light that he can use as shields and he can use as sort of weapons. He can create portalas that will open before your eyes that he can step through and go to other places around the world. And frankly, even in this film, we’ll only touch upon what a lot of his powers are.”
Like I mentioned before, that red cape is one of Strange’s signature accouterments, with the other being Eye of Agomatto, a golden medallion passed down from one Sorcerer Supreme to the next that really imbues its wearer with a unique gift.
“In this film, the Eye is a very important relic that can be quite dangerous if used in the wrong hands, because it has the ability to do any number of things, the most dangerous of which is, it can sort of manipulate probabilities. Which is also another way of saying, ‘screw around with time’ — which is part of our story.”
All of this means there’s potential for some really trippy stuff to happen (think of the dimension shrinking scene in Ant-Man, but only trippier) which fits in perfectly with the ideas that writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko came up with when they created the character. And that’s something that really lured director Scott Derrickson (Sinister) to this project.
“I was always interested in the extreme mind-bending visuals of the comics. I had very ambitious [ideas] for the visuals, which were rooted in the comics, that movies haven’t done yet. And a lot of that goes back to the Ditko artwork and all that ’60s craziness you see in the comics.”
In other words, as Cumberbatch himself so succintly puts it, “There’s going to be crazy shitt going on!”. He of course won’t be experiencing all that “crazy shit” on his own though. We’ve known for a while that Rachel McAdams (True Detective) would be playing the film’s female lead, we just didn’t know who that was. But now we do. Sort of. Playing his cards very close to his chest, Feige revealed to EW that “Rachel McAdams plays a fellow surgeon that has a history with Strange and is his sort of lynchpin to his old life, once he steps into he role of a sorcerer. She is someone he connects with at the beginning, and reconnects with, and helps anchor his humanity.”
Okay, well at least that cuts out some of the other possible names fans have been tossing up like long-time love interest and fellow magic practitioner Clea. Although, Marvel have a habit of smooshing together supporting characters from their comics to create new ones in the movies, so she could still be somebody we know.
And speaking of familiar comic book characters that have been tweaked, it’s been officially announced for some time now that Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) will be playing Baron Mordo, who in the comics is sort of Strange’s nemesis. However in the movie, he won’t be the main antagonist – at least not in this movie – but rather a sort of friend and magical contemporary. What Marvel have confirmed now though is that that vacant Big Bad spot will indeed be filled by the brilliant Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) who will be playing.. well, they ain’t saying. Not entirely.
In Doctor Strange, it is the job of the Sorcerer Supreme – in this case, the Ancient One played by Tilda Swinton – to protect our dimension against extra-dimensional magical nasties. Cumberbatch’s character is one of many that the Ancient One is training to take up this mantle when she’s gone. But not everybody agrees with her methods, as Feige explained.
“[In Doctor Strange] we will take audiences through sort of a guide to the multiverse, other dimensions, and there are amazing things out there — wonders that are going to be hopefully visually extremely interesting and unique to this movie. But there are also very scary things in these other dimensions.”
“Mads’ character is a sorcerer who breaks off into his own sect. [He] believes that the Ancient One is just protecting her own power base and that the world may be better off if we were to allow some of these other things through.”
The comic book movie studio wouldn’t reveal exactly which sorcerer Mikkelsen will be playing, and according to exec producer Stephen Broussard, they’re going to keep it that way.
“I’ve seen lots of names thrown around. No one has quite picked the name that we’ve chosen for him. It would be fun to conceal that, if we can.”
Doctor Strange is scheduled for release on November 4, 2016. Here’s the official synopsis:
“Doctor Strange” follows the story of neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange who, after a horrific car accident, discovers the hidden world of magic and alternate dimensions.
Last Updated: January 4, 2016