'Doctor Strange' Almost Had A Very Different Villain

Like every significant Marvel superhero, Dr. Stephen Strange has a rogue's gallery of regular opponents, villains he has been facing off against for decades. And while the Doctor Strange film has its fair share of bad guys (including a few who were hiding in plain sight), it turns out that they weren't the original choice for the film.

Spoilers for Doctor Strange begin here. You've been warned.

Although Mads Mikkelsen's Kaecilius was treated as the main adversary of Doctor Strange throughout production, the film's script eventually reveals that he is just a servant of the demon Dormammu, the ruler of the Dark Dimension and one of the doctor's oldest nemeses. However, director Scott Derrickson (speaking with Empire) originally had his mind set on another villain – Nightmare, the ruler of a dream dimension who hold dominion over the multiverse's bad dreams. Derrickson explained that this choice was overruled by Marvel Studios mastermind Kevin Feige, who said that the character would be a little too much in a movie that is already doing a lot of heavy lifting:

The trouble with starting with Nightmare is getting across the idea of the Dream Dimension as another dimension. The movie was challenging enough. It's already an exposition-heavy movie... Dormammu made the most sense. And he is the most present villain in the comics.

So they ended up falling back to Dormammu, who spends much of the film offscreen until his appearance in the grand finale (where he is played by Benedict Cumberbatch in sly motion capture performance). Derrickson also elaborated about his film's climax, explaining that Doctor Strange using time magic to reverse the destruction of a city was a direct response to criticisms that every Marvel movie ends with a city getting getting destroyed.

As for the final confrontation, where Doctor Strange traps Dormammu in a time loop and dies numerous times until The Dread One agrees to bargain, Derrickson notes that an early version of the script noted just how long his hero and villain were trapped in that stand-off:

We had a line. where Strange said, 'we've been through this a thousand times. Literally. I fancied the idea that they went through it thousands of times before Dormammu finally realised he wasn't going to get out of it.

The rest of the article, which delves into various easter eggs and once again dodges a question about whether or not his movie features a reference to the upcoming Captain Marvel, can (and should) be read at the link above.