We caught up with Kevin Feige and Scott Derrickson at the Doctor Strange IMAX preview!
As you read these words, Scott Derrickson has just completed his final cut of Doctor Strange. While fans gathered around the country to witness Monday night’s Doctor Strange IMAX preview, Derrickson joined Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige at Los Angeles’ AMC Burbank 16 before heading out to take one final look at the full film before signing off on the November 4 release. Before then, however, we got the chance to chat with both Derrickson and Feige. Read on for a description of the footage and to learn some new details about what’s coming up in Doctor Strange and beyond! Beware, however, that the following does contain some minor spoilers, including the reveal of the Doctor Strange‘s Stan Lee cameo.
In his introduction, Derrickson cited the chief inspirations for his Strange as being the original Stan Lee and Steve Ditko stories from Strange Tales, J.M. DeMatteis and Dan Green’s 1986 graphic novel Into Shamballa, and Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s 2006 miniseries The Oath. It was certainly classic Ditko visuals that inspired great portions of the night’s IMAX spectacle. If nothing else, Doctor Strange promises visuals unlike anything we’ve seen on the big screen before.
Many of the mind-bending visuals of Doctor Strange actually began thanks to the production’s unusually-long research and development phase. Because shooting had to be delayed four months to accommodate Cumberbatch’s schedule, extra time was given to developing the story’s unique visuals. Getting the right actor, after all, is one of the most important elements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the case of Doctor Strange, Derrickson says that the ensemble cast was targeted one by one and he wound up with his first choice in every instance. Increasingly, acclaimed actors seem to be embracing Marvel films.
“Cate Blanchett really, really wanted to be in ‘Thor’ and that was amazing,” says Feige. “That was something we look at as a privilege and something to take very seriously. They’re trusting us that the screen green behind him or polka dot pajamas will look very cool at the end of the day. They will, obviously, because of the technicians and the artisans, but mainly because of their performances.”
The Doctor Strange IMAX preview footage began with a special message from star Benedict Cumberbatch who, tapping into his own mystical talents, changes the aspect ratio of the theater screen to the proper IMAX dimensions.
Opening with Beck’s “Soul of a Man,” we’re introduced to the New York City world of renowned surgeon Dr. Stephen Strange. He’s chatting with Rachel McAdams’ Christine Palmer and she’s reminding him that they could practice medicine together again. ER work doesn’t interest Strange, though, and Palmer lovingly chastises him for only wanting to work on cases that will further his celebrity. She says that, if he’s not going to join her, she’ll stick with Nic (That’s presumably Nicodemus West, a The Oath character played by Michael Stuhlbarg). Strange tries to ask if Palmer and West have a relationship outside of the ER and she says that she doesn’t date coworkers.
“I call it my Strange policy,” she smiles.
“Not the worst thing that’s ever been named after me,” Strange retorts.
Strange attempts to invite Palmer to a Neurological Society Dinner where he’s to give a speech that night. She declines, reminding him that she’s not interested in events that further his ego.
Along a twisted mountain road, we see Strange driving his car at a rather reckless pace. He’s meanwhile on his cell phone, answering a call from a sort of medical agent named Billy. Billy is pitching a number of interesting cases: a Marine who hurt his spine in a suit of experimental armor (Strange writes it off, saying any surgeon could help him), an elderly woman with a troubled brain stem (Strange thinks the hopeless case will hurt his undefeated surgical streak), and a woman with an electrical implant to control schizophrenia who has been struck by lightning (He might take that one).
Just how much Marvel research should fans be doing on those three cases?
“Not much,” Feige tells us, suggesting that none are Easter eggs. “Those were just fun little things.”
Suddenly, another car jackknifes Strange’s and the doctor receives a serious tumble as his vehicle cascades down the side of the hill, flipping several times. We see Strange’s hands go right through the glass of his dashboard. When the car comes to a stop, it faces straight down, half submerged in water. Strange is held in his seat, beaten and bloodied.
The footage then jumps forward to Strange’s first encounter with The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). Strange has come to Kamar-Taj in the hopes of restoring his hands and he becomes incensed when she starts to show him a metaphysical map of the human body.
“I’ve seen that in a gift shop,” he sneers.
The Ancient One shoves Strange with a sudden, determined move that targets his chest. The doctor’s astral form flies from his body and Strange looks down to see The Ancient One standing over himself.
Then pulled back into his own body, Strange demands to know what was in the tea he was drinking.
“Just tea,” she smiles. “A little bit of honey.”
Then, she touches his forehead and says, “Open your eye.”
Strange’s body goes flying, first out into space where he glimpses a butterfly and then inward, outward, upward and downward all at the same time. Reality stretches and contorts. We see Ditko-inspired visions of space and alternate dimensions as Strange plummets through one after another. At the side of the Ancient One, Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is concerned about Strange’s heart rate. She isn’t, though, and sends Strange even further.
“This universe is only one of an infinite number,” says the Ancient one.
We see a tiny hand grow from each of Strange’s fingers and then another from each of those fingers and so on and so on until, in seconds, Strange is devoured by his own infinite hands. But as soon as they fully form, they were never there and we’re looking instead at a blinking eye and Strange is now a body falling through it.
“There are dark places filled with malice and hunger,” continues the Ancient One.
Finally, Strange is pulled back into his body, gasping.
“Have you seen that before in a gift shop?” the Ancient One smiles.
Next, a quick scene sees Mordo hand Strange a small slip of paper as he shows the doctor to his room in Kamar-Taj.
“What’s this,” Strange asks, unfolding the paper to reveal the word SHAMBALLA. “My mantra?”
“Wi-Fi password,” Mordo grins. “We’re not savages.”
The world of Doctor Strange, after all, doesn’t ignore the regular one. The magic merely extends it into something great.
“I’m a religious person,” says Derrickson. “I absolutely believe in the validity of science. But I think that both science and religion both propagate the idea that the world is explainable. It’s not. I want to be reminded of that by movies.”
Another scene introduces Wong who, in this iteration, serves as guardian of the books of Kamar-Taj.
“Just Wong,” Strange asks, instantly getting off on the wrong foot. “Like Adele? Or Aristotle? Drake, Marlowe? Eminem?”
Wong just stares.
“People used to think I was funny,” says Strange.
“Did they work for you?” Wong deadpans.
We hear Soundgarden’s “Blow Up the Outside World” play as we hear the Ancient One explain that the Avengers exist to fight physical threats. What she and the other trained mystics do is defend the Earth from something bigger.
“Infinite multiverse means infinite threats,” she says.
As to whether or not fans saw a glimpse of the villainous Dormammu in the footage here, Derrickson is staying mum.
“I’ll never tell,” he smiles.
The footage closed out with a lot of action, including an impressive chase sequence that is actually happening in, around and through a city that is turning and fracturing in on itself. We also see Strange in battle with Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius and Strange, opening the Eye of Agamotto, actually turn time back on itself.
There was also the reveal of Stan Lee‘s cameo, which sees the Marvel legend sitting on a bus reading Aldous Huxley’s “The Doors of Perception” and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all.
The footage then ends with a bit with Palmer and Strange together again and Strange talking about his mystical studies.
“It sounds like you’re in a cult,” she says.
“It’s not a cult,” he shoots back.
“That’s exactly what someone in a cult would say.”
Doctor Strange follows this year’s Captain America: Civil War but 2017 will mark the first time that Marvel Studios will see three films arrive in a single year.
“Spidey is done,” says Feige. “Thor finishes in two weeks. Then they’re all in the can for next year.”
Feige confirmed that January will see the start of production on both Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther and on Joe and Anthony Russo’s Avengers: Infinity War, both setting up stage at Pinewood Atlanta. Then, just as Black Panther finishes, Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man and the Wasp will set up production there.
“We’re racing towards the start date in January,” Feige says of Panther‘s progress. “There’ll be a few more cast members announced and a few more after that. That’s going very well. Joe Robert Cole and Ryan Coogler pulled together a great script and a great story.”
While it’s not entirely a surprise, Feige confirms that Captain Marvel, which is still without a confirmed director, will indeed offer an origin story for Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers.
Feige also responded to Kate Beckinsale’s recent comments at the Underworld: Blood Wars New York Comic-Con panel wherein the actress claimed that Sony Pictures had approached Marvel about a potential Underworld crossover with Blade.
“They did ask a long time ago,” says Feige, “but I think our answer was that we’ll probably do something with Blade at some point. That’s still the answer. He’s a fun character. He’s a great character… Between the movies, the Netflix shows and the ABC shows, there are so many opportunities for the characters to pop up. As you’re seeing now with Ghost Rider on “Agents of SHIELD.” It was more about instead of teaming up with another studio with a character, we thought we’d do something on our own. What that is and where that will be? There’s nothing imminent, to my knowledge.”
Did you check out the Doctor Strange IMAX preview yourself? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!