The fourteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Strange hits theaters on November 4, although screenings start tonight and you can see it in 3D. The title character is played by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
Cumberbatch already has his own rabid fanbase, but he’s about to earn many more fans. After all, more people will likely see Doctor Strange than saw any episode of Sherlock. It’s going to be much bigger than his other films, including his Oscar-nominated performance as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game.
Here’s a look at the character, the movie and Cumberbatch. (Note: this post contains spoilers.)
1. Doctor Strange Will Introduce Audiences to Marvel’s Mystical Worlds & Characters
Just as Guardians of the Galaxy introduced moviegoers to the cosmic regions of the Marvel universe, Doctor Strange will take audiences into the magical realms and other dimensions. We will be taken into another world, along with Dr. Stephen Strange as he seeks a way to fix his damaged hands.
Doctor Strange was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and first appeared in Strange Tales #110 in 1963. His first story didn’t include his origin, rather, it introduced Strange as a magician who could enter the mind of a man tormented by a nightmare.
Lee and Ditko explained Strange’s origin a couple of issues later. We learned that Strange was once a vain, selfish neurosurgeon who only cared about being paid and praised as the best. One day, he was in a car accident. Although he survived, the nerves in his hands were severely damaged so he could no longer work as a surgeon. Dejected, Strange wandered the city for months.
When Strange overhears someone talk about “The Ancient One,” he begins a search for him as a last-ditch effort to save his career. Once arriving in Tibet, he learned didn’t believe in the Ancient One’s magic. Still, Strange was trapped at the Ancient One’s palace. He saw Baron Mordo, the Ancient One’s student, plotting to betray the teacher. When he tried to warn the Ancient One, Mordo used magic to stop him, which surprised Strange. After Mordo escaped, The Ancient One told Strange that of course he knew Mordo would betray him. Strange then dedicated himself to learning more about magic so he could stop Mordo.
As for The Ancient One, he sees much more in Strange and believes that he can become Sorcerer Supreme and his successor.
In the film, the Ancient One is played by Tilda Swinton and Mordo, who doesn’t start the film as a villain, is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor. Christine Palmer is played by Rachel McAdams and Benedict Wong stars as Strange’s assistant/butler, Wong.
In 1978, Marvel tried to turn Doctor Strange into a television show. Universal produced a two-hour pilot that aired on ABC that year, but the show wasn’t picked up.
2. ‘Doctor Strange’ Was Delayed Just so Benedict Cumberbatch Could be the Star
Before Cumberbatch got the part, Marvel almost had Joaquin Phoenix play the role. Ethan Hawke, Ewan McGregor, Oscar Isaac, Jake Gyllenhaal and even Matthew McConaughey were even rumored for the part. Cumberbatch later won the role, but Marvel had one problem: his schedule. They had to work around his Hamlet production in London. He also filmed another Sherlock episode, “The Abominable Bride.”
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige admitted thatDoctor Strange was delayed because of Cumberbatch’s schedule.
…He kept getting more popular, and more popular, and he kept getting busier, and busier, and it looked like the timing wasn’t going to work.” So we looked at some other actors for a while and ultimately decided, ‘We have to try and make it work with Benedict and with his schedule.’ Which is why we shifted the production schedule around. He finished Hamlet here in London, and I think had a day off, and then went to Kathmandu, Nepal, to shoot the first day of Doctor Strange.
Cumberbatch is signed for more movies and is expected to be a part of Avengers: Infinity War.
3. Cumberbatch Stopped Into a New York Comic Book Store in Full Doctor Strange Costume
While filming Doctor Strange in New York City in April, Cumberbatch decided to get in touch with the source material… by wearing his complete costume during a trip to JHU Comic Books in Manhattan.
According to the store, the Strange production was filming just a few feet from them They also shared the CCTV footage (seen above) of Cumberbatch’s visit, just in case anyone didn’t believe them.
In an interview with ComicBook.com, Cumberbatch joked that he told the store he’d work there if Doctor Strange failed.
“I went into a comic book store on the last day of shooting in New York [dressed as Doctor Strange],” he said. “I didn’t buy any comics, but I offered my services. I said, ‘Look, if the film doesn’t work out, I’ll come and stack the shelves for you.”
Doctor Strange probably won’t fail though. The film has a 90 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is expected to pass $70 million this weekend.
4. Cumberbatch Helped Director Scott Derrickson Bring to Life Another Villain in ‘Doctor Strange’
This is a big spoiler for the film, so if you want to be completely surprised, skip this section. It turns out that Cumberbatch has two roles in the film. He also plays the Dread Dormammu, who Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) summons in the film.
Director Scott Derrickson told IGN that Cumberbatch was enlisted to provide the facial capture for Dormammu.
IGN asked if this was a repeat of Marvel’s decision to use Thanos in The Avengers before casting Josh Brolin in the role for Guardians of the Galaxy. In The Avengers, Thanos was played by a stand-in.
“No, no, it wasn’t that at all. We knew it was an all CG character, but as we were in production Benedict brought it up as an idea,” Derrickson explained. “He said, ‘What would you think about me doing it?’ I said, ‘Let me think about it, you know.'”
Derrickson, who co-wrote the film with Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill, explained that he liked the idea of Dormammu taking a form that looked like Strange to speak to Strange in his own dimension.
The more I thought about it the more I liked the idea. Because no one understood Dormammu better than Benedict did. I also wrote that role to be a kind of ultra-inflated version of Strange. He is an ego run amok; he is this cosmic conqueror where everything, where literally everything in the multi-verse is about him.There’s something interesting about this confrontation of this little, tiny guy who has this power of time and this monstrous conqueror who is trapped by a clever gambit. There’s something about that worked well, and I didn’t think anybody to interact with Benedict than he, himself.
5. Doctor Strange Will be in at Least 2 Future Marvel Movies
After Doctor Strange, Cumberbatch isn’t slowing down. He is expected to appear in two of Marvel’s upcoming films – Thor: Ragnarok, which comes out on November 3, 2017; and Avengers: Infinity War, due out on May 4, 2018.
Earlier this week, he added The Current War to his schedule, giving him an opportunity to play Thomas Edison. That film will feature Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming), Nicholas Hoult (X-Men), Michael Shannon (Man of Steel) and Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them).
Cumberbatch also has two voice-acting roles coming up. He’s voicing the tiger Shere Khan in Warner Bros.’ long-delayed Jungle Book movie that Andy Serkis is directing. That film is now scheduled for October 2018. Universal also picked him to voice the Grinch in an animated version of Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas.