Posted on Thursday, July 28th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
The first Doctor Strange trailer was all about table setting, introducing a lesser known (to non-geek crowds) Marvel superhero to the unwashed masses. The new trailer, which premiered at the Marvel Studios panel at Comic-Con 2016, goes all in with the big action and crazy images. This movie looks nuts…but nuts enough to break the usual Marvel mold? Let’s take a closer look.
The trailer opens with several shots focusing on the hands of Dr. Stephen Strange and this is no accident. As we saw in the first trailer (and as we see recapped here), Dr. Strange was a brilliant surgeon before he became a master of the mystic arts, a man whose intellect was matched by his physical skill.
The real stars of this shot are Benedict Cumberbatch‘s sexy snake eyes, but his hands loom large in the frame. I could be reading too much into this (says the guy who regularly goes through movie trailers frame-by-frame), but this could be director Scott Derrickson going above and beyond to emphasize how important Strange’s hands are to his life and career. If you’re going to rip something away from a character, you need to establish just how important it is first.
And yes, there’s even a shot of those hands playing a piano, just to rub it in.
Long story short: Strange is in a car accident and his hands receive the worst of it, requiring extensive treatment from which he will never fully recover. Here’s Strange recovering in his hospital room, with Rachel McAdams‘s Christine Palmer sitting at his bedside. Naturally, losing the key to his life’s work sends Stranger into a downward spiral that leads to a quest around the world which leads to him discovering his affinity for the sorcerer thing, so it all does work out in the end.
So, who exactly is Christine Palmer? In Marvel Comics lore, she is one of several characters to bear the “Night Nurse” title, working in a secret clinic that treats superheroes who get roughed up on the job and can’t go to a regular hospital. However, that role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has already been filled by Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple on the Netflix series Daredevil, so this version of Palmer will probably differ from her comic book counterpart. We know that she is a surgeon and one of Strange’s colleagues, but beyond that….we don’t know much. MCU love interests can be a mixed bag, so let’s hope she’s more Pepper Potts and less Sharon Carter.
I don’t want to say that the scenes of a bearded and weary Strange wandering the world look like they were borrowed from Batman Begins B-roll, but that’s exactly what they look like. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I just can’t help but wonder how much of this movie will be yet another origin story and how much will focus on Strange actually being the most powerful magician on the planet.
In the first trailer, we got to see Tilda Swinton‘s Ancient One literally shove Strange’s spirit out of his body, allowing him to experience his first astral projection by force. Here’s another angle from what appears to be the same scene, except that she’s now backing the doctor into some kind of inter-dimensional barrier. Man, she really is just tossing her latest student into this magic thing head first…
Look! It’s the new Marvel Studios logo! And in a nice touch, the background is a kaleidoscope of ever-changing colors and shapes, a nod to the weird and wild magical world that Strange and his supporting cast occupy.
There’s (rightfully) been some controversy over the casting of Swinton as the Ancient One, a character who has previously been depicted as an Asian man in Marvel comics lore. Still, it’s hard to get too upset at the thought of Tilda Swinton playing an ageless mystic, mainly because she’s actually an ageless mystic herself in real life and did all of her own magic for the film.
Let’s blindly speculate about who this guy could be! The robe instantly gives him away as a magic user of some kind long before he starts actually, you know, using magic, but it’s the yellow color that suggests where his allegiances lie. We know that the climax of Doctor Strange is a big battle between good and evil in the streets of New York and we see in later shots that at least some of guys backing up Kaecilius (more on him in a moment) are wearing yellow. So there you go: this individual is almost certain a henchman…
…albeit a henchman with the ability to alter reality. This doesn’t look like an Avengers movie, where the heroes take on an army of disposable minions who go down with a single punch. The villains here are men and women who have mastered something mysterious and absurdly powerful. Watching Strange battle villains who individually have a power set similar to his should make for a nice change of pace. And yes, the way the buildings are changing here do vaguely recall Inception, but that film’s shifting of reality and perception was rigid and grid-like. This is far looser, like watching reality get filtered through, well, a kaleidoscope.