As if conjured by the combined mystical might of Jimmy Kimmel, ABC and Marvel Studios, the first teaser trailer for “Doctor Strange” leapt forth from the darkness and onto the internet last night. The two-minute clip serves as an introduction to all things Strange: his history as a glamorous surgeon, his tragic car accident, his injured hands, his journey to Tibet and his encounter with the mysterious Ancient One. The teaser even shows off some of the perspective-warping visuals concocted by director Scott Derrickson for the movie’s yet-unnamed big villain.
As this is our first look at Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sorcerer Supreme in training, as well as a number of the supporting characters that constitute the film’s cast, we feel that some introductions are in order. And considering Marvel’s notorious secrecy and the fact that the film is still seven months away from release, there are still plenty of mysteries about this film to uncover.
Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch)
As hinted at in the teaser, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange is a world-class surgeon who loses his hands’ fine motor skills in a car accident. The once-proud, overly vain and incredibly selfish doctor finds himself adrift in life, and eventually makes his way to Tibet. There, he meets the Ancient One (Swinton) and Mordro (Ejiofor), and discovers his true calling in life as the Sorcerer Supreme, Earth’s most powerful magic wielder and protector against mystic threats. This trailer focuses almost entirely on Strange’s life-changing car accident and his ensuing period of soul searching; it ends with Strange asking the Ancient One to teach him and teases his full Sorcerer Supreme garb.
The Surgeon (Rachel McAdams)
While we don’t yet know the name of McAdams’ character, we do know her profession and role in the film. As revealed by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, McAdams “plays a fellow surgeon that has a history with Strange and is his sort of lynchpin to his old life, once he steps into he role of a sorcerer. She is someone he connects with at the beginning, and reconnects with, and helps anchor his humanity.”
It’s been speculated that McAdams is playing a version of Linda Carter, a character otherwise known in the comics as Night Nurse. Carter co-starred in one of Strange’s most acclaimed stories, “Doctor Strange: The Oath,” and struck up a relationship with the sorcerer that lasted a few years. It’s also possible, given the fact that McAdams plays a surgeon and not a nurse, that she’ll be a totally original character.
The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton)
In the comics, the Ancient One is a wizened old man who teaches students the secrets of the mystic arts — with a dash of inner enlightenment for good measure. He’s also responsible for training the world’s Sorcerer Supreme — a role he once held — and passes that title on to Stephen Strange. In the movie, the Ancient One still teaches Strange how to unlock his potential, but rather than a wizened old man, we have a bald Tilda Swinton in the role. Though the teaser is the first we’ve seen or heard from Swinton’s take, it indicates that gender and race switching aside (the comics incarnation is Asian), the character’s role remains similar to her Marvel Comics counterpart.
Feige previously spoke about Swinton’s casting and the decision to take the Ancient One in a different direction, saying that the Ancient One’s early comic appearances were “stereotypical” and “don’t hold up to what would work today.” He added that in the movie, “‘the Ancient One’ is a title that many people have had. We hit very early on on, What if the Ancient One was a woman? What if the title had been passed and the current Ancient One is a woman?” Swinton, then, fit perfectly into the role.
Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor)
The teaser also introduces us to Baron Mordo, and previous set photos have indicated that Mordo will fight alongside Strange in his battle. Mordo, also a practitioner of the mystic arts, was also a student of the Ancient One alongside Strange in the comics. However, the comic version of Baron Mordo sought to murder the Ancient One — a plot that Strange uncovered and fought to stop. From that point on, Strange and Mordo were archenemies, which may or may not be a development the Marvel Cinematic Universe will work towards.
The Villain (Mads Mikkelsen)
Like Rachel McAdams’ character, we don’t yet have a name for the villain played by Mads Mikkelsen. We see him using his abilities to warp reality in the teaser, and we know from previous set pics that he possesses some truly out of this world eye makeup. But is he a villain from the comics — possibly a more human-looking Dormammu? Marvel’s remained mum so far.
Feige’s talked about the villain before, saying that he’s “a sorcerer who breaks off into his own sect, believes that the Ancient One is just protecting her own power base and that the world may be better off if we were to allow some of these other things through [to his dimension].” Only time will tell if Mikkelsen’s evildoer is a Marvel villain in disguise or a totally new creation.
“Doctor Strange” is directed by Scott Derrickson and opens in theaters November 4.
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