I’m not a Doctor Strange fan.
I’m a Doctor Strange super fan. SUPER Fan. Any comics I haven’t read I’m aware of. I know his story. I know the writers who wrote for him, the artists. I know the deities he invokes when he fights inter-dimensional threats. I know issue numbers, allies, enemies, acquaintances.
Doctor Strange is not just the jam in my sandwich, he’s the bread and the peanut butter too. He was more than likely the knife that spread the Strange Jam and the Strange PB.
It’s important for you to have that full disclosure going into this article because you should know just how unabashedly excited I am for the film and how much I know the character, that I am in such a deep love of this character and mythos that it very earnestly surprises me when other people don’t care for it.
All of that being said, our very first look at the Doctor Strange trailer hit the internet tonight. It was first seen on Jimmy Kimmel Live and then hit the internet soon after. (I was in the Jimmy Kimmel audience, by the by, because — Doctor Strange).
Lord Almighty, Praise the Maker, By the Vishanti!
As a Doctor Strange fan I can honestly say that was exactly what I wanted in a teaser for this film. It was trippy and heady and as far out there as you can get. It’s a total departure from the usual material of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and yet it still fully and wholly fits despite this. Yet, despite how out there it is, despite how weird and brain-melting, it still somehow feels grounded. That in and of itself is its own form of magic.
And sure, we didn’t see Doctor Strange as the magician casting any spells. We didn’t see any wizard fights or levitating and we didn’t see the Eye of Agamotto open and cast it’s truth-seeking light on the nefarious villain — but we didn’t need to. This is just the teaser trailer. This isn’t even the full trailer for this film. And, it doesn’t come out until November, which is still more than enough months away for that stuff to start being seen.
Chances are good we see something more with Doctor Strange in a month when Captain America: Civil War hits theatres. The promotional campaign for this film is very much in its infancy, it’s just starting, and if they came out with anything more than Doctor Strange astral projecting through a couple dimensions it would be too much.
Speaking of, seeing Stephen Strange astral projecting for the first time was almost too much for my nerdy heart to handle.
The fact of the matter is that the majority of the public have no clue who this character is and they will need to be slowly introduced to the idea of this character because — wow — is he really out there!
So, take one last look at the trailer because, finally, we’re taking our dive.
First of all we see his classic origin. Doctor Strange the Sorcerer Supreme used to be Dr. Stephen Strange, the wealthy and successful neurosurgeon with an exceptional god complex.
However, after a really bad car accident one night, his hands are irreparably destroyed.
He seeks out countless doctors and procedures, but none of them work, which makes him increasingly desperate.
It’s then that he turns his attention to more Eastern ways of thinking, even starting to consider mysticism despite not believing in it.
“I don’t believe in fairy tales about chakras or energy or the power of belief…”
Finally, he hears about The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who teaches him about the existence of magic, the manipulation of forces we can’t comprehend and the mystical, multi-dimensional world none of us ever knew existed. Strange, of course, doesn’t believe any of it at first, but eventually comes around to believing it.
This is, basically, the story the entire trailer tells. We see the car crash, the search for help becoming more desperate, him eventually finding the Ancient One and then him being convinced that he should learn magic.
In this trailer, we also get our first look at Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One and she is perfect. In the comics, The Ancient One is a centuries old man of Eastern descent, so having Tilda Swinton step in to play the role is a bold move, and a brilliant one.
Honestly, The Ancient One is a soul that would supersede gender and race, a human so mystical and inter-connected that the meaning of those roles and traits has more or less fallen away. So why shouldn’t it be an incredibly talented and captivating actress like Tilda Swinton, who carries herself with a wise regality here.
Also, the bald head is a nice touch.
We get our first look at Mads Mikkelsen as well, in his undisclosed role. It’s interesting that they are keeping his name so close to the chest, but perhaps knowing who he is would give everything away. We’ve discussed our theories as to his character before and this trailer just reinforces that thought.
My theory is that he’s Dr. Charles Benton who goes on to lead a cult called the Sons of Satannish all in an attempt to summon that power into himself. They’ll change up the cult for the movie, most likely to Dormammu, but that’s my tw0-cents.
Obviously, there are no tell-tale signs of this in the trailer, but he does have a cult that he’s leading and he is a powerful magician, so it makes sense.
Of course, there are a few other possibilities, but this is my favorite theory.
But, then, there’s Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange. We don’t hear a lot from him, but the voice that he’s created for this character is an astounding transformation in and of itself. There’s an inherent arrogance to it as he decries the Ancient One, “I don’t believe in chakras…” as if he knows that he knows better. He doesn’t even appear to be challenged by whomever it is he’s talking to. But, with that, there seems to be a world weary grit to his voice — he’s desperate and tired and unwilling to bend due to his own sense of superiority.
This is all present in the tenor of his voice. It’s exact and precise.
But then, within mere seconds, after seeing Dr. Stephen Strange pushed back through a multiverse folding in on itself, he lands back where he started and looks up at The Ancient One and you can see that he is now Doctor Strange, the student on his way to becoming the Sorcerer Supreme.
He looks at her with a strange mix of emotions — fear, awe, confusion, desperation, searching. He wears all of these faces as he does his best to comprehend what he just witnessed as he pleads with this woman he’d just decried,
It is, very much, as if he’s just seen the face of God.
Or, in his case, The Vishanti.
Hell, maybe he did!
However, as impressive and perfect as all the performances are, the effects of the multiple dimensions folding in on themselves takes front and center. Trying to track where any one detail starts and ends is impossible and will melt the brain if you try too hard.
Mads Mikkelsen’s character walks down a hall that seems to be endlessly folding in on itself.
Doctor Strange falls through what looks like three to four separate versions of Manhattan all adapting to the other. And all of it looks flawless.
The very fact of the matter is that Doctor Strange is supposed to challenge your mind in that way. That’s what he’s done since his inception in the pencils of Steve Ditko. The places Strange goes, the things he sees, the beings he witnesses are all so far outside the framework of what we define as reality that we have no categories for them, let alone any understanding.
And that last shot — just stop. Perfect.
So, as a supreme Doctor Strange fan, what’s my final analysis?
Everyone buckle up because this movie is going to hurt your brain while it pulls at your heart and entertains everything else!
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