Sneak peek: ‘Doctor Strange’ debuts a new magic man…
The Doctor is in, and superhero movies are about to get a lot stranger.
Doctor Strange (in theaters Nov. 4) introduces Benedict Cumberbatch as Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme and not only adds magic to the expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe but also throws in some other crazy universes and dimensions to boot.
Director Scott Derrickson (Sinister) very much wants to capture the style and vibe of the magical character’s roots in 1960s psychedelic comic books, “where it was all about mind expansion and doors of perception and seeing things from a new perspective,” he says. “We get to go with Stephen Strange through his experience of the new, and hopefully it’ll give audiences something that’s new for them as viewers.”
Doctor Strange is getting a true origin story and, according to Cumberbatch, a physically painful one. A brilliant albeit arrogant surgeon, Strange is involved in a catastrophic car accident that injures the nerves in his hands. He loses his livelihood and nearly his mind until he ends up in the Himalayas learning about the mystic arts from a wise figure known as the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), an Asian male character in the comics.
“He’s enraged by the mumbo jumbo he gets hit with until he’s catapulted into the reality of that world, and then the teachings begin, as they say,” says Cumberbatch, adding that he’s never played a character with so many obstacles thrown his way. “I hope you root for him.”
As he meets various other magic-leaning personalities such as Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Baron Mordo and Mads Mikkelsen’s mysterious, as-yet-unnamed villain, Strange “is spiritually evolving through his pain and torment, and doing it through the experience of incredibly weird realities,” adds Derrickson.
The filmmaker promises a straddling of our world and other dimensions — the existence of which was teased in last year’s Ant-Man movie — and a host of locales which haven’t been seen before: “There was never a point at which (Marvel) said, ‘Now that’s just too bizarre.’ ”
Plus, expel that Harry Potter stuff from your minds because Doctor Strange is reinventing movie magic, too.
“Traditionally when you think about practitioners of sorcery, they tend to be static in the casting and speaking of spells, and then something odd happens that become the spectacle that you watch,” Derrickson says. In Doctor Strange, the magic is experiential: “It’s just more immersive and bigger than the characters.”
Even Strange is baffled by the whole thing at first, Cumberbatch says. “He’s like, ‘Whaaat?’ He’s not like, ‘OK, cool, I’m in.’ He’s not swallowing the Kool-Aid straight away. But it’s wonderful the way it’s explained to him, because it’s a hell of an explanation and just visually it’s going to be a riot for audiences.”
Cumberbatch says he’s had “great fun” so far with the character, and he’s not the only one: The Eye of Agamotto, the metallic and mystical amulet worn by Strange, also doubled as a pacifier for the actor’s 10-month-old son Christopher during production.
“My baby just loves giving it a bite,” he says. “It’s a bit troublesome because you don’t know how many toxic things might be on it. If they made a nice rubber version, it would be the ideal baby dummy. Who knew?”