On Monday, October 10, a select group of audiences were treated to an extended, 15-minute look at Marvel Studios' upcoming "Doctor Strange" film, conjured up in its IMAX 3D form and revealing just a hint of the new dimensions coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In Burbank, California, director Scott Derrickson and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige introduced the preview. Derrickson called the theater his "home theater" -- the venue where he often finds himself watching new movies -- and expressed his happiness at being able introduce the film and his "favorite character" to his local crowd.
The preview itself offered a glimpse of Stephen Strange's (Benedict Cumberbatch) life before his hands are ruined in a car accident, his first meeting with the Ancient One, his introduction to Wong (as played by Benedict Wong) and even a glimpse of battles to come with Mads Mikkelsen's Kaecilius.
"The metamorphosis that he goes through is more drastic than Tony [Stark]," Fiege said following the screening. "And that’s fun to chart."
SPOILER ALERT: the following contains details about the 15 minutes of footage.
In the first sequence, Strange is revealed to be uninterested in saving individual lives, as he declines to help Rachel McAdams' Christine Palmer in the ER. Though they no longer seem to be a couple, he invites her to his next speaking engagement, an invitation she declines. "They were never about us," she tells him. "They were about you." That readily apparent self-centeredness brings upon Strange a life-changing accident.
After a fade to black, Strange enters the chambers of the Ancient One -- and immediately dismisses her mystical view of the universe. Glimpsed in previous trailers and footage, the full sequence unveils more of the film's decidedly trippy nature as Strange sees the Earth from orbit and beautiful Ditko-esque levels of existence. Snapping from place to place in odd directions may be a little disorienting in 3D, but it seems to be the desired effect. In one of these curious realities, Strange is confronted by hands growing from his fingers and hands growing from the fingers of those newly grown hands until he is enveloped by them.
Though they were plenty convincing when screened at Comic-Con, the completed sequence underlines why Strange immediately says "teach me" upon returning to the Ancient One.
And train he does in the subsequent clips, learning to accumulate energies and project alterations to the physical world. He also meets Wong, who is unimpressed when Strange compares his one-word name to Adele and Aristotle. In a subsequent scene, Strange tells Wong people used to find him funny. Wong's response: "That worked for you?"
Wong he also tells Strange that while the Avengers may protect the Earth from physical threats, the Ancient One and her disciples create a shield around the planet from different kinds of threats. At this point, Kaecilius finally makes his presence known as the preview replaces dialogue for frenetic moments of mystical energy fights, folding cities and Strange confronting a mysterious entity in some obscure dimension. But it all culminates with Strange and Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) attempting to flee from Kaecilius as he folds New York around them. Missing portal after portal, the pair eventually smack into the side of a bus, in which a familiar face is reading a book on metaphysics.
Dazzling and colorful, "Doctor Strange" looks like no other Marvel Studios film to date and even its use of familiar images like the folding city feels fresh and impressive.
Following the screening, Derrickson told the press, including CBR, that the preview represents the tone of the film. "Nothing in [the film] is weird to be weird; it's all part of the storytelling," he said. In reference to the the hands sequence, which is certainly creepy, Derrickson noted it is a reflection of Strange's search at that moment in the film.
With the Ancient One and Wong explicitly discussing the mystical realm of the MCU, the film sets it apart from the sufficiently-advanced science of Thor's Asgard. "Magic is another thing," he explained. "And what makes magic feel magical is the mystery."
Calling the mysticism in "Doctor Strange" a "third thing" from religion and science, he continued, "It's its own unique multi-dimensional realm." In developing the film, the decision to define magic as a "third thing" and set it apart from Asgardian science came about "organically" as Derrickson, Fiege, science consultant Adam Frank and Jon Spaihts, the initial screenwriter, all felt it would be wrong to "demystify the mystical."
"What's the fun in that?" Derrickson added. "I want to be reminded [by movies] that the world was a more magical place than I thought it was."
"Doctor Strange" conjures up its opening day on November 7.