”‘Doctor Strange’ is a mind-trip action film that is bizarre, ambitious, wild and extreme and gives audiences fresh visuals and fun, adrenalized sequences.”
Get ready for the big screen adventures of Doctor Strange, the story of Doctor Stephen Strange, the Master of the Mystic Arts, who made his first appearance in Marvel comics in 1963.
With the introduction of this unique Super Hero, vested with powerful magical powers and skills, the Marvel Cinematic Universe opens up a host of new, electrifying stories and exciting, mystifying, never-before-seen action.
“There are these street-level narratives of the Marvel Universe that we’ve seen in a lot of films. There is the cosmic level, which ‘Thor’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘The Avengers’ have taken us to. But there always has been a very important supernatural side to the Marvel comics, and we haven’t really touched on that. And ‘Doctor Strange’ is our perfect entry point into that realm,” says producer Kevin Feige.
“‘Doctor Strange’ deals with parallel dimensions, alternate dimensions and the multiverse, which unlocks an entirely new area of storytelling for us. It’s the richness of that Marvel Universe that allows us, on what will be our 14th film released, to open up this entirely new aspect,” Feige concludes.
The story follows world-famous neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), whose life changes forever after a horrific car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he is forced to look for healing, and hope, in an unlikely place—a mysterious enclave known as Kamar-Taj. He quickly learns that this is not just a center for healing but also the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying our reality. Before long Strange—armed with newly acquired magical powers—is forced to choose whether to return to his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.
Coming on to direct the film is Scott Derrickson, known for “Sinister” and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” among others. He brings his eye for the supernatural and paranormal to immerse audiences in the worlds of magic and alternate dimensions that define the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s newest Super Hero.
Derrickson co-wrote the screenplay with Jon Spaihts (The Darkest Hour, Prometheus) and Robert Cargill (Sinister, Sinister 2).
“Scott Derrickson has a great body of work and, if you look at his work going back to the early days up to his most recent films, he’s always playing with the genre; he’s always subverting the genre,” producer Kevin Feige comments. “Sometimes he dives right into it, sometimes he twists it. That’s exactly what we love to do at Marvel. We had a few great meetings where we realized he was the guy to lead us through this journey of Doctor Strange.”
For director Scott Derrickson, taking the reins of Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange” was the stuff dreams are made of.
“Doctor Strange has always been my favorite comic book character,” says Derrickson, “not just in the Marvel Universe but in all of comics. I connect to that comic primarily because of how seriously it takes the idea of mysticism and the notion that the universe is a profoundly mysterious place. I believe we are surrounded by more than what can be measured with instruments of science.”
Derrickson adds, “The comics were bold, trippy, hallucinogenic and fantastical—but at the same time they always treating these mystical things as though they are real. And I’m a person who thinks that they are real. I think the universe is incredibly weird and mysterious, and so to be able to use this kind of big-budget entertainment to explore the world’s weirdness and bring other dimensions into the cinema for audiences to experience—well, what could be greater than that?”
Fans of Marvel comics know that other dimensions play a huge role in the Marvel comic universe, not just for “Doctor Strange” but for quite a few of the Marvel characters. Commenting how “Doctor Strange” is introducing this new element to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Derrickson says, “This movie is certainly opening up the world of other dimensions more than any other Marvel film. In the first phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ‘Iron Man,’ ‘Thor,’ ‘Captain America’ and ‘The Avengers’ were amazing, groundbreaking, trendsetting movies and they all did kind of belong to each other. I think that Marvel very wisely recognized that it needed to take some hard left turns and some crazy, wild, ambitious risks—and certainly ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ my favorite film of 2014, was that kind of crazy left turn. ‘Doctor Strange’ is that as well.
“It’s an attempt to create not only a broader universe for Marvel characters and Doctor Strange himself to inhabit, but it really is an attempt to push the ball forward when it comes to what audiences can expect to enjoy from tent-pole movies. That’s an ambitious goal, but that’s what we’re doing,” the director concludes.
Derrickson’s approach to envisioning the film he wanted to make was to take the science of alternate dimensions very seriously and respect the idea that there is very credible, sound dimensional theory and use that partly as a way into the grounded Marvel Cinematic Universe that’s been created so far.
But that doesn’t mean that magic is all scientific in Marvel’s “Doctor Strange.” As Derrickson explains, “I respect the sound scientific theory regarding the existence of extra dimensions, but that doesn’t mean that magic is scientific in this. In ‘Doctor Strange’ magic is magic. And what makes magic ‘magic’ is that it goes beyond mere scientific understanding. What makes mysticism ‘mysticism’ is that it transcends our categories, and our ability to assimilate through knowledge, that which is scientific, factual and which is provable. I ascribe to the idea that mysticism is not the absence of reality, but the presence of more reality than we can comprehend.”
Executive producer Stephen Broussard adds, “A line in ‘Thor’ goes like, ‘Where you come from, you call it science. We call it magic.’ They’re one and the same. If we applied that sort of approach to the magic in ‘Strange’ you would lose the mystery. You would lose the wonder of it. So it was a tough trick finding the right line to let the audience understand what they need to know yet leave a gap of understanding when it comes to the mystery of how it all works because magic by its very nature is mysterious and unknowable. In a lot of ways the journey of Stephen Strange in this movie was the journey of our own discovery of defining magic in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”
That dichotomy between science and magic that Dr. Stephen Strange must come to grips with makes him an interesting character to the director, who informs, “Stephen Strange, being a skeptic and a materialist and somebody who is very resistant to magic and mysticism, is forced to open up his mind to the possibility that maybe there is more to the world than what he thought. I admire character journeys where a person’s view of the world is expanded. I admire that in the real world when I see people having the courage to expand their minds and see that maybe the world is more than they thought it was—and that’s the journey of Stephen Strange.”
On the story structure, Derrickson offers, “We tell the origin story from the comics. Nearly every movie with a good character is an origin story, whether it’s a comic book movie or not. A good movie is usually about how a character becomes the person they are by the end of the movie, and I think that in this instance the origin story of Stephen Strange is uniquely interesting. However, it’s not a movie that’s entirely about Strange’s beginnings. The movie is about more than just that original origin story of a car crash and mangled hands and how he comes upon The Ancient One and is introduced to sorcery.
“There’s a lot more to it than just that, but I’m incredibly excited that his origin is part of the movie, because that is much of what I love about the Doctor Strange comics. And in the movie, if you don’t know Strange as the arrogant, wealthy, skeptical, materialistic man of hubris that he was, you really can’t appreciate the man he becomes or the gravity of responsibility he comes to accept in his life. That’s what makes him an awesome character,” the director concludes.
“I think when you consider the work that I’ve done it makes sense that he’d be my favorite comic book character, at least in the Marvel universe,” says screenwriter Jon Spaihts. ”Probably the only comic character in that mainstream world that I’m suited to. I feel such an affinity for the character and the story and the ambition of those comics, especially the original Stan Lee and Steve Ditko “Strange Tales” – I think those are my favorite of all of them. The entire history of the comics is extraordinary.”
What can audiences expect when they watch Marvel’s “Doctor Strange”?
Producer Kevin Feige gives some insight. “This is a mind-trip that rivals any cinematic mind-trip that has ever been done before. Steve Ditko is one of the greatest Marvel artists in history, and it’s amazing that we’re now able to take what he did in the mid-’60s—these trippy comic panels and comic covers—and put those into big three-dimensional space on a movie screen. What it really does is give a “Matrix”/”Inception”/Miyazaki–style mind-bending trip to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’ve translated it into an action sequence and a giant blockbuster film.”
Benedict Cumberbatch offers, “There’s a lot of real-world live action in this film. There’s a lot of drama, a lot of comedy. But there’s also the most extraordinary, fantastical adventure and madcappery, which Marvel gets better and better at with every single film. The importance of the environments and the context and the action in those environments has never been richer. It’s going to be a great cinematic ride.”
Tilda Swinton adds, “It’s a wild ride. For those who are interested in the ‘geekery’ of special effects, they’re going to have a field day. It’s going to be a real thrill. Those who are interested in a human story about digging deep and finding a way to live your life that has real meaning, where you live in service to humankind and you’re not just a total selfish bastard, they’ll be very happy. And those who want to go to Kathmandu and can’t afford a plane fare are going to have a spectacular trip for the price of a cinema ticket!”
Rachel McAdams joins with, “It’s parallel universes and time travel and deconstruction and reconstruction. It’s unlocking a whole new part of the brain in a way by what we’re willing to accept about ourselves and how far we can push our limitations. I think that’s really exciting.”
Scott Derrickson sums up: “‘Doctor Strange’ is a mind-trip action film that is bizarre, ambitious, wild and extreme. It’s filled with things that you haven’t seen before. Each set piece is an attempt to do things in ways that we haven’t seen in the past, and to give audiences fresh visuals and fun, adrenalized sequences.”