Posted on Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 by Peter Sciretta
Do you find that as audiences become more accustomed to superhero stories that you need to change things?
Kevin Feige: Yeah, I think the more movies we make, the deeper we go into the comic books. The more we’re able to bring to life aspects of the comics that haven’t been brought to life before. The benefit of that is we get to make movies that feel different to movies we’ve made before.
I don’t know that a movie like Doctor Strange couldn’t have been the second or third film we made. I don’t think we’re doing anything in that requires past viewing, as opposed to Civil War which we wouldn’t have done as the first or second movie because so much of that film is based on the pre-existing relationships between the characters. So the more films we make, the more we get to deal with those pre-existing relationships. But when it comes to a movie like Ant-Man or Guardians or certainly Doctor Strange, it’s just bringing to life stuff that’s already been there in the comics, and we finally get a chance to do it on the big screen.
There’s a couple of characters names over here that are pretty exciting for comic book fans with Drum and Minoru. How much of that is just nodding to the comics versus just setting things up for the future? Because obviously Runaways has been a topic of conversation for quite a few years now, and seeing that name is pretty exciting.
Kevin Feige: Of Drum and Minoru that you mention, one of those names you hear in the movie, and one of those – I don’t think… We never say Minoru in the movie, do we? No. So that picture, if it is in the art of book, is the only place you’d ever see that name.
Drum, you do hear the name in the movie. That’s how we always build the universe. There’s so many characters in the books that if we have need for a person to be in this place at this time and have a line or have no lines, we still want it to be someone, and oftentimes that’s how the names come about. And the names we pull are the ones that are relatively top of mind or have been amongst characters we’ve thought about, like the Runaways for a long time. I would call that an Easter Egg that most people won’t even see.
Who’s the antagonist?
Kevin Feige: The Antagonist is Mads Mikkelsen, who plays a character called Kaecilius. He was a sorcerer within Kamar-Taj, who along with some other of his followers, who are called zealots, defect from Kamar-Taj because they believe the Ancient One is not being truthful in the way that she is teaching sorcery. They believe she is withholding secrets that should not be withheld, and think that maybe it’s not a bad thing if other dimensions absorb our reality. In fact, that could lead to benefits such as immortality. They may also lead to destroying the entire world as we know it. But it is definitely a philosophical break that he has from the rest of the sorcerers that is his primary angst over the course of the movie.
There’s a tendency towards these doppelganger villains with superhero stories in general? What’s the plus of that? Is it just a logistical thing where we just want to show as much magic as possible clashing against magic? Do you have thoughts and ideas of showing, down the line, a magical hero against a technological villain?
Kevin Feige: Certainly we’ll get to that. I think in the case of any – you want to have characters that inhabit the same world when introducing a new world, a new mythology for lack of a better term. You want to explore that as much as you can. Kaecilius doesn’t know Strange from a hole in the wall. He predates him. But when you’re teaching an audience about sorcerers and that reality and you’re going to talk about the past anyway and you’re going to get into their history anyway, much better to tie-in your bad guy with that instead of laying all this groundwork of parallel dimensions and sorcery and say, by the way, a meteor hit on the other side of the world, it went under the water, and this evil thing developed. What does that have to do with magic? Nothing, but we’ve got to stop it. That’s not the way we’ve developed them up to this point. Needless to say as more characters encounter each other in other films they’re certainly going to be up against things that they don’t know anything about and have no comparable to.
How deep into the world of alternate dimensions and parallel dimensions do you go?
Kevin Feige: Real deep.
Is there a scenario where we see a different version of earth?
Kevin Feige: I think when comic book fans hear parallel dimensions or multiple dimensions they think of Earth 616 and Earth 617 and Earth 618. That’s all possible. But what we’re playing with in this world is there are dimensions – that the other dimensions are not just parallel realities, although some of them are, but there are the Dark Dimension where Dormammu inhabits; there are dimensions that are so mind-bending that you can barely perceive them; there are dimensions where a lot of the Ditko images come from; there are dimensions that are just mind trips that the human mind can barely fathom which is why it’s hard to turn them into something to show audiences in November. But we’re playing as much with the notion of the multiverse as much as alien dimensions, for lack of a better term, than parallel realities where there’s Strange that wears Iron Man armor – we’re not there yet.
What was the toughest nut to crack on this?
Kevin Feige: I would say the use of magic for action sequences was something that took a long time to figure out what road to take. Scott was very smart in not wanting it to simply be: someone shoots a bolt of lightning, and someone blocks a ball of lightning, so someone throws another bolt of lightning, so someone blocks another bolt of lightning.
There are interpretations of that. But we wanted to do something different, and we wanted to tap into this notion of the multiverse, of dimensions right next to our own. And if you were able to tap into those dimensions, and those other powers, and what could you do if you pulled aspects of those other dimensions into our realm. All in the interest of creating a visual tapestry that is totally different in terms of an action scene we’ve seen in any other movies.
We’ve seen light blast versus light blast before. Again, there’s some of that in this movie for impact, and for dynamic attacks, but the four main action scenes have been structured around which power from which dimensions are they going to be used to screw with our world now. And in doing so, giving a canvas for an action scene totally different than anything we’ve ever done before. So something that starts as a foot chase becomes totally unrecognizable. Something that starts as we’ve got to stop the clicking clock before it goes off is completely turned on its head. And that was something that was challenging for years and years leading up to this movie, and when Scott started and when our first writer – Jon Spaihts – we really focussed on and crack and build the rest of the movie around.
Can you speak a little about the relationship between Strange and Mordo, because traditionally they’ve had something of a fractious, murdery dynamic?
Feige: He is different in this movie. Portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor, he is Strange’s advocate in the beginning of the movie. The Ancient One doesn’t necessarily see the potential in Strange that Morodo does, and Morodo is the one who talks the Ancient One into allowing him in. And for this film, he is a partner of Strange, and he is a mentor to Strange. You know that was something we wanted to play against in the comics. Because in the comics for as unbelievably creative and full of imagination as they are – we are desperate to recreate in cinematic form – there’s some things that are too obvious for modern day audiences. The jealous rival named Baron von Mordo, who turns against him when he shows any signs of talent – we specifically didn’t want to do that.
It’s one of the reasons we cast Chiwe because we wanted to have someone who had sort of unbelievable authenticity in delivering a lot of wackadoo lines and exposition. The other day on set there was a line, which is a spoiler so I won’t say it, but it involved a tongue twister of various names and incantations, and I said to Steven, who was on set, ‘Steven, maybe we can simplify this for Chiwetel. That’s a mouthful. I can barely say it”. Steven talks to Chiwetel. Chiwetel goes, ‘I got it. Don’t worry about me. I’m fine.’ Sure enough, he says, and you go ‘why was I even worried. Why did I even question that line could be said?’ He kills it. So he is very much an ally in this film.