By Elijah Varner
Fall is here, and that means movie season is back! And, as everyone knows, movie season brings superhero movies. This fall’s addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), is Doctor Strange, a movie that takes a new view on what it means to be a superhero. The movie’s cast has some easily recognisable names, such as Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Star Trek: Into Darkness), Chiwetel Ejiofor (2012), Tilda Swinton (Narnia, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal, Casino Royale) as well as newer actors, like Benedict Wong (Frankenstein), Rachel McAdams (Sherlock), and Scott Adkins (Bourne Ultimatum).
The story follows Stephen Vincent Strange (Cumberbatch), a skilled neurosurgeon, who is involved in a devastating car accident which damages his fine motor skills. Unable to perform surgery without this skill, Strange seeks healing, and discovers the hidden world of magic and alternate dimensions. Cumberbatch had been considered for a Marvel movie role for quite a while, with Kevin Feige, CEO of Marvel, stating, “Ever since the Marvel universe had really started to take shape, we wanted him on board.” Cumberbatch, who spent his sabbatical teaching English at a Buddhist monastery, was very excited about the spiritual part of the movie, involving traditional beliefs of many cultures. He says, “it’s something that’s been a huge part of my life.”
Strange(Cumberbatch) and Mordo(Ejiofor)
Ejiofor was cast as Karl Mordo, a person, who in the original comics, was one of the main antagonists. But it seems as if Marvel is taking a new take on the character. Scott Derrickson the director, elaborates on the topic, saying that originally, Mordo was to be the villain, but as Ejiofor and he talked, he admitted, “It’s not in his character to be a bad guy.” However, Derrickson noted that, “The antagonism between Mordo and Strange is something to be explored in later films.”
So who is the villain? That role will be assumed by Mads Mikkelsen, well known for his role as the villain in the 21st James Bond movie, Casino Royale. Mikkelsen will take on the character of Kaecilius, an obscure villain taken from the comic books, not known to many. Kaecilius was described as “One of the Masters of the Ancient Arts who breaks off from the Ancient One and forms his own sect.” Mikkelsen added that the character would be far from being like his comic book counterpart, saying that, “He is a combination of a bunch of Doctor Strange villains that was created to introduce the idea of beings that live in alternate dimensions.” Derrickson stated, “He has a very compelling point of view that Strange is confronted with in the movie. That, to me, is what makes a good villain.”
So, who is the Ancient One mentioned above? In the comics, the Ancient One is a Tibetan man who is the most powerful mystic in all worlds. Tilda Swinton isn’t exactly the first person that you would think of the play an Asian man, but the director stated that “the Ancient One isn’t a person, it’s a mantle that’s been passed down since the beginning of time, and therefore, we felt leeway to cast in interesting ways.” Swinton will be training Strange in the film to become the next Sorcerer Supreme, a mantle as old as the Ancient One.
The Ancient One(Swinton)
As for the role of McAdams, she will be playing Christine Palmer. Christine Palmer was actually never actually featured in the Doctor Strange comics, but was instead prominently featured in X-Men. In the movie, she will be a fellow surgeon of Strange. Feige described her character as a “lynchpin to his old life, once he steps into the role of a sorcerer. She is someone he connects with, in the beginning, and reconnects with, and helps him to anchor his humanity.” Whether or not she will be Strange’s love interest is unknown, and no information was provided on the topic, except for some brief hand-holding in the trailer.
McAdams(left) with Cumberbatch(right)
Benedict Wong will be playing the role of Wong. Except, unlike the comics, he will not be Strange’s tea-making manservant, but instead is referred to as “the drill sergeant of the Kamar-Taj”, the mystical monks that are directed by the Ancient One. He also is a trusted friend of the Ancient One, and one of the Masters of the Ancient Arts. Wong described the character as “the one who trains the younger, less experienced students. He meets Strange, and the two become friends.”
Now, what are Strange’s powers? By himself, he is, or will become, a skilled magician. Strange uses several relics to aid himself, such as the infamous Cloak of Levitation, which allows him to fly, and the Eye of Agamotto, a fan favorite from the comics. When asked about the Eye, Derrickson admitted that the Eye would not function with the same purposes. In the comics, the Eye was used to create disguises or illusions, record events, or even tap into the history of the previous Sorcerer Supremes. Kevin Feige explained that “(it) manipulates probabilities… which is another way of saying screw around with time.”
So there you have it. Everything we have on Doctor Strange. Doctor Strange premiers in the US on November 4, 2016.