Posted on Wednesday, April 13th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
Captain America: Civil War will probably be pretty great, but if I could only see one Marvel superhero movie this year, it would be Doctor Strange. Part of this is because I have an affinity for the character, who is one of my favorite comic book heroes of all time. However, it’s also hard to say no to a superhero movie that takes a hard left turn into the realm of the mystical and the magical, which sounds like a refreshing change of pace. And that’s before you even talk about the cast that director Scott Derrickson has assembled, which includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Benedict Wong.
The first teaser trailer for Doctor Strange arrived late last night, so you know what that means – a frame-by-frame breakdown of the new footage.
The entirety of this trailer focuses on the origin story of Dr. Stephen Strange and that’s okay…and smart. Unlike with Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man, whose origin stories can be confidently recounted by people who have never touched a comic book in their lives, your average non-nerd couldn’t tell you a thing about Doctor Strange’s journey from talented surgeon to Sorcerer Supreme of the Marvel Universe. Like with Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, there’s some inherent risk to building a movie around a character who isn’t quite a household name. Anyway, the our brisk guide through the early days of Stephen Strange begins with this shot of him underwater, horribly injured…
…and we soon see the exact circumstances of his plight. Like his comic book counterpart, the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Doctor Strange survives a very bad car accident that wrecks his hands, leaving him without a career or an identity. And you know what that means.
Yep, it means lots of wandering. If this section of the tale mirrors the comics, Stephen Strange will embark on a quest to restore his mangled hands to their former glory, which means paying a visit to doctors and healers in all corners of the world, taking a deep dive into the realm of exotic medicine in search of a cure. If this shot (and other shots in the trailer) gives you Batman Begins vibes, you are most certainly not alone. This trailer reeks of Christopher Nolan, but there are far worse things for your superhero movie to smell like.
“Stephen Strange. Might I offer you some advice? Forget everything that you think you know.” Although his voice is distorted in the trailer, this opening narration sounds like the great Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is playing Baron Mordo in the film. We’ll focus more on him in a bit. In the meantime, enjoy this close-up of Benedict Cumberbatch’s bedraggled but undeniably handsome mug.
Here is the trailer’s first and only glimpse of Rachel McAdams, who plays Strange’s love interest in the film. Despite a variety of early rumors suggesting that she was playing a character cut deep from Marvel comic book lore, we still don’t know who she’s playing. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige refused to offer a name, but he did say this much: “Rachel 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.”
Executive producer Stephen Broussard added: “Rachel McAdams is sort of [Doctor Strange’s] contemporary in the modern-day New York world, before and after he goes on this crazy journey. So, she sees him before, she sees him after. She’s kind of this audience point of view.” The trailer certainly makes it look like she’s involved in the surgery that leaves Strange alive but physically devastated. After all, this is a Dramatic POV Shot.
The comic book origins of Doctor Strange deal with an arrogant and seemingly untouchable professional being brought to his lowest point. And how better to showcase that then to cut from a warm shot of Strange dressed to the nines and overlooking the New York City skyline…
…to an icy grey shot of Strange dressed like a bum and overlooking the New York City skyline. The trailer is full of match shots like this, often contrasting Strange before and after his accident. Whether this is a representation of how director Scott Derrickson has structured the film or just a nifty trick for the trailer is unknown, but the former certainly seems likely.
Interestingly, early word on the film suggested that Doctor Strange wouldn’t be a traditional origin story, which makes the focus on his accident and initial quest in this preview a little peculiar. Either that changed in development or the film will employ a more unique structure, something akin to Deadpool, where the main plot occurs side-by-side with extended flashbacks to Stephen Strange’s early days. Here’s another one of those cool match cuts, starting with surgeon Dr. Stephen Strange scrubbing up…
…and cutting to to wandering bum Dr. Stephen Strange, raising his hands so he can supply a visually satisfying edit.