“This ri­vals any cin­e­matic mind-trip”

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents -

We have a cast that I think has more awards and more award nom­i­na­tions than any sin­gle cast we’ve ever put to­gether,” says Kevin Feige, pro­ducer of what may be Mar­vel’s most au­da­cious, most am­bi­tious – cer­tainly its most re­al­ity-de­fy­ing – movie yet. “The fact that they’re all will­ing to suit up and step into this very trippy world with us is a tes­ta­ment to both our di­rec­tor Scott Der­rick­son and the source ma­te­rial that it comes from.” With Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch in the ti­tle role,

Doc­tor Strange takes the Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse to next level weird­ness, cast­ing a hex that un­locks the su­per­nat­u­ral pos­si­bil­i­ties of the block­buster fran­chise ma­chine. It’s a film that has a fan’s-eye fi­delity to the comics – just like Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s orig­i­nal cre­ation, the cin­e­matic Strange be­gins as a swag­ger­ing, ego­tis­ti­cal sur­geon, trav­el­ling East in search of an­cient se­crets to fix in­juries sus­tained in a ter­ri­ble car crash – but it aims to ex­plore new sto­ry­telling di­men­sions, too.

“We have this great jour­ney of this char­ac­ter from this ar­ro­gant sur­geon to some­one who needs to put ego aside and em­brace this new re­al­ity that he’s learned about,” says Feige. “It has prob­a­bly the best solo ori­gin story of any Mar­vel char­ac­ter.”

The Mists of Munno­por are clear­ing… The doc­tor will see you now!

How does it feel to fi­nally nudge the Mar­vel Uni­verse into the su­per­nat­u­ral genre?

I’ve been talk­ing about Doc­tor Strange for many, many years. It’s been some­thing that we’ve wanted to do for a long time be­cause it rep­re­sents an en­tirely new as­pect to the Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse for us. Just like in the comics, Doc­tor Strange deals with par­al­lel

di­men­sions, al­ter­nate di­men­sions and the mul­ti­verse, which un­locks an en­tirely new area of sto­ry­telling for us. There are these streetlevel nar­ra­tives of the Mar­vel Uni­verse that we’ve seen in a lot of films. There is the cos­mic level that Thor and Guardians 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 it.

How does the su­per­nat­u­ral work in the Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse?

In the Doc­tor Strange mythol­ogy, the su­per­nat­u­ral has its ba­sis in physics and in string the­ory and in quan­tum me­chan­ics, and if you even know a lit­tle bit about any of those things it may as well be magic; it may as well be un­be­liev­able like par­al­lel di­men­sions – the no­tion that there could be an­other di­men­sion right now on top of us that we don’t know about. There could be var­i­ous worlds. There could be en­er­gies from those worlds spilling into our own world. So, Doc­tor Strange is all about a sect of peo­ple who re­fer to them­selves as sorcer­ers who are aware of this and who can tap into it, and who can de­fend us from cer­tain things that want to come in from those other di­men­sions. But they can also utilise the pow­ers avail­able from those other di­men­sions to as­sist us here on Earth and in our own realm.

What does that give you as film­mak­ers? What it re­ally does is give a Ma­trix/In­cep­tion/ Miyazaki–style, mind-bend­ing trip to the MCU. Look at what Steve Ditko did in those orig­i­nal Doc­tor Strange comics. We’ve taken that and trans­lated it into an ac­tion se­quence and a gi­ant block­buster film.

What does Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch bring to the role of Stephen Strange?

You need a spec­tac­u­lar ac­tor for this role and the fact that Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch agreed to do it and was as ex­cited and as en­thu­si­as­tic to por­tray this char­ac­ter as any ac­tor that has ever joined our uni­verse was huge to us. He was some­body that was a pro­to­type for us and this char­ac­ter for many years as we were de­vel­op­ing it. He came in for a few meet­ings and be­fore I even could say it he goes, “Doc­tor Strange?” and we were like, “Yes.” It was a bit of a jour­ney get­ting there but the fact that he came on board is one of the great plea­sures of work­ing here. He’s great.

You’ve taken Baron Mordo, a clas­sic vil­lain from the orig­i­nal comics. How does he fit into the story you’re telling?

Mordo, played by Che­wi­tel Ejio­for, is a men­tor in this film. Mordo is a best friend to Stephen Strange. He has gone through the jour­ney that Strange is cur­rently go­ing on be­fore, and he acts as a guide for Strange when he gets to this fa­cil­ity. He in­tro­duces him to the An­cient One who is the head teacher for this or­gan­i­sa­tion. Mordo is a cool, nor­mal guy and in a cer­tain way he be­comes a part­ner to Strange. He is a good guy through­out the en­tire film and that is some­what dif­fer­ent than the

Mordo in the comic books. The Mordo in the comic books is his arch­neme­sis and is some­body who is jeal­ous of Strange from his ear­li­est ar­rival at this school. But we didn’t want to do that; it’s very pre­dictable.

Are you homag­ing the clas­sic Steve Ditko cos­tume for Doc­tor Strange?

Doc­tor Strange has a very unique cos­tume with a very high col­lar and a red cape, based on the an­cient robes of this or­gan­i­sa­tion that he finds him­self with. And yes, our in­cred­i­bly ta­lented visual de­vel­op­ment team used all of that as the ba­sis for what will be em­bod­ied by Doc­tor Strange. It needed to be iconic in its own right. It needed to be very dif­fer­ent from any of the other Avengers be­cause Doc­tor Strange will most likely find him­self stand­ing one day next to Tony Stark, next to Thor, next to the other Avengers. So we wanted him to very much feel a part of the broader team and yet com­pletely in­di­vid­u­alised and sep­a­rate from any­body else.

What does Scott Der­rick­son bring as a di­rec­tor?

Scott Der­rick­son has a great body of work, and like Joe and An­thony Russo, like Joss Whe­don, like Jon Favreau, like Ken­neth Branagh, the best of the film­mak­ers we’ve worked with have not nec­es­sar­ily done a film like the one we’re ask­ing them to do. But they’ve done enough that they’ve shown they’re in­cred­i­bly ta­lented. They have unique vi­sions and a love of film and a love of push­ing the bound­aries of what a movie can be. If you look at Scott’s work go­ing back to the ear­li­est days to his most re­cent films, he’s al­ways play­ing with the genre. He’s al­ways sub­vert­ing the genre. Some­times he dives right into it, some­times he twists it. That’s ex­actly what we love to do at Mar­vel.

What does the world of Doc­tor Strange give the au­di­ence as a big-screen ex­pe­ri­ence?

This is a mind-trip that ri­vals any cin­e­matic mind-trip that has ever been done be­fore and has taken im­ages out of the comics. 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. The Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse has thrived for us at Mar­vel Stu­dios. We just take what was great about the comics and un­abashedly and with­out fear throw it up on the big screen. There are im­ages and se­quences in Doc­tor Strange that peo­ple are al­ready call­ing the most breath­tak­ing mind-trips that they’ve ever seen in a movie be­fore. That was our chal­lenge, and that’s what we think the team has risen to.

Doc­tor Strange opens on 25 Oc­to­ber.

The An­cient One (Tilda Swin­ton) teaches Strange a thing or two.

Don’t come if you get travel sick­ness eas­ily.

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