'Doctor Strange' Trailer Breakdown: A Frame-By-Frame Look At Marvel's Mystical Adventure

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 SwintonChiwetel 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.

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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...

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...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.

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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.

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"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.

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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.

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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...

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...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.

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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...

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...and cutting to to wandering bum Dr. Stephen Strange, raising his hands so he can supply a visually satisfying edit.

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Just to drive the point home, here's a shot of Strange post-surgery, where you can clearly see the full extent of the damage done to his hands. In close-up shots of Benedict Cumberbatch in character (seen in official stills, paparazzi photos, and even snippets of that time he visited a comic store in costume), a careful look will reveal traces of scar tissue running along his hands and fingers. Like Iron Man, Stephen Strange is defined by an injury and must live every day with a visual reminder of it.

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"You're a man looking at the world through a keyhole. You've spent your life trying to widen it. Your work saved the lives of thousands. What if I told you that reality is one of many?" By this point in the trailer, we haven't seen Tilda Swinton's take on the Ancient One, but we have certainly heard her. And she sounds like Tilda Swinton. But that's okay. Vanilla Swinton is still infinitely more bizarre and otherworldly than just about any other actor on the planet. Anyway, here's a shot of a very cool temple that I don't recognize. Is this where the Ancient One trains Stephen Strange or is this a famous landmark that I'm too stupid to recognize? Let me know!

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Here is our first glimpse of Ejiofor as Baron Mordo, who ultimately becomes Doctor Strange's arch-nemesis in the comics. However, he doesn't seem to be a villain here. Like his comic book counterpart, he's another student of the Ancient One, but unlike his comic book counterpart, it doesn't look like he's going to attempt to murder his mentor in a brutal attempt to obtain her magical powers. At least not in this particular Doctor Strange adventure. After all, paparazzi shots seemingly taken during the filming of the movie's climax show these two battling the forces of evil side-by-side. Allowing him to be a full-fledged ally to Stephen Strange in this movie could make his turn to villainy in a later film all the more powerful, should they choose to go that route.

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"I don't believe in fairy tales about chakras or energy of the power of belief." It turns out that Benedict Cumberbatch comes from the Hugh Laurie School of British Actors Putting on American Accents: the lower and the more grumbly, the better! It works well enough in the context of this preview, although seeing that voice come out of Cumberbatch's mouth will take some getting used to. However, I am very glad they chose to keep Strange American rather than just let Cumberbatch stick with his English accent. Part of the appeal of the character is that he's an arrogant New Yorker through and through...who also happens to be a powerful sorcerer.

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In the original Marvel comic book continuity, Strange meets the Ancient One in the Himalayas and trains under him while living high in the mountains. While the film may very well visit the Himalayas, it looks like his initial encounter with the MCU version of his mentor occurs a little closer to sea level. The temple looks appropriately old and mystical, but the sight of other buildings on the skyline suggests the the locale has changed.

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I won't lie: the moment I saw this seal on the ground, my first thought was "Is that the Tesseract?" It's probably not, but it's also not ringing any bells for this particular Marvel nerd. Then again, it could just be a real-world symbol that I'm desperately trying to connect to comic book lore.

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And finally, we come face-to-face with Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. If you want to believe the early rumblings, Marvel and Scott Derrickson reportedly considered Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe, and Bill Nighy for this role before settling on Swinton, which is probably the first and only time that batch of actors have been looked at for the same part. However, it gives you a crystal clear idea of what the Ancient One is supposed to represent – wisdom incarnate. Other than the shaved head, Swinton doesn't look a thing like the comic version of the character, but that's okay. Of course we'll instantly believe that Tilda Swinton is a powerful magician who can punch people's souls straight out of their bodies. She's Tilda freakin' Swinton. She probably does that every day in the real world just for fun.

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And that brings us directly to the coolest shot in the trailer: the Ancient One punches Stephen Strange and knocks his Astral Form out of his body. This is our first glimpse at one of the character's most famous abilities. With his spirit separated from his physical form, he can leave his body behind and explore the Astral Plane, jumping between worlds and dimensions that are entirely unlike our own. The psychedelic and colorful Astral Plane is a mainstay in Doctor Strange comics, so we can only hope that the cinematic version is as wild and crazy as artist Steve Ditko's original drawings.

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And yes, this scene also does contain some Matrix vibes. Whoa, indeed.

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We know that Hannibal star Mads Mikkelsen is playing the villain in Doctor Strange, but his identity has yet to be revealed. His big introduction in the trailer doesn't make it any clearer. The way he manipulates his surroundings like a giant kaleidoscope doesn't necessarily line up with either Nightmare or Dormammu (the most likely villainous contenders), but it's a pretty incredible visual.

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This angle from the same shot reveals stained glass windows, which certainly makes it appear like Mikkelsen's villain is having his way with a church or temple of some kind. Hey, Derrickson is a horror movie veteran. He knows the cinematic power of desecration.

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Squint and you'll see that Stephen Strange is accompanied by the Ancient One in this shot (note the bald head). While it looks like he no longer meets his mentor in the Himalayas, it also looks like the two of them will at least swing by for a mystical trial or two. Hey, if training in the isolated mountains is good enough for Batman, it's good enough for Doctor Strange.

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Here's another angle on Mikkelsen's mystery villain, which offers a vague glimpse at his face. As we've seen in images snapped on set, there's something very wrong with his eyes, which seem to have literally burnt holes in his skull and shredded the skin on his face. It's a pretty nasty character design and one that seemingly indicates that we're dealing with Nightmare rather than Dormammu...but I could be wrong about that.

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The trailer eventually offers us a close-up of Ejiofor as Baron Mordo and there's nothing to say about this beyond "Hey, isn't it amazing that an actor as good as Chiwetel Ejiofor is playing a key role in the Doctor Strange mythos?" We live in strange times.

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"You wonder what I see in your future? Possibility." It certainly looks like Doctor Strange will have no shortage of trippy imagery, beginning with this shot of the Ancient One seizing control of Strange's body/mind/spirit and flinging him across the room/into a another world...

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...and continuing with this shot of New York City folding in on itself, Inception-style. Once again, there are far worse movies your trailer could recall. I'm not saying Christopher Nolan needs to be cut a check, but I will say that he deserves a dignified nod of approval from across the room the next time all of the superhero movie directors gather for their annual top-secret party where they decide the future of Hollywood.

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"Teach me." Oh, okay.

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Despite the trailer focusing almost entirely on Doctor Strange's time before he becomes the Sorcerer Supreme, the footage does end with this cool shot of Cumberbatch in full superhero regalia, climbing the stairs to the top of his home, the Sanctum Sanctorum. For those who don't know, the Sanctum Sanctorum was built on a spot where mystical energies are potent...and it's also a townhouse is Greenwich Village, which is another one of those amusing contrasts that make Doctor Strange's world so delightful. The unique design on the window is the Seal of the Vishanti, which protects the house from supernatural threats. Not seen: Doctor Strange's massive occult library and collection of magical artifacts and weapons.