Our collective focus may still be on the recently released Captain America: Civil War, but that’s not the only Marvel movie coming out this year. November will mark the appearance of a different kind of hero, taking us into a realm of mysticism and magic that the MCU has never before explored. We’re of course referring to Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular Sorcerer Supreme. The film’s been in production for quite some time, and now, we have our first full-length trailer for what looks like a bizarrely refreshing Marvel movie.
[Update, 7/25/16: Added second official trailer (see below).]
[Update, 9/15/16: Added “Inside the Magic” featurette (see below).]
[Update, 9/28/16: Added new TV spot (see below).]
The footage we see in the trailer gives us a solid dose of Cumberbatch, along with looks at co-stars Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Rachel McAdams. That’s not all it gives us though, walking us through some trippy-as-hell visuals, and some of the major story beats of Stephen Strange’s transformation from surgeon to sorcerer. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
1. Stephen Strange, ace neurosurgeon
In the comics, Stephen Strange is a conceited, albeit talented, neurosurgeon concerned mainly with parlaying his considerable abilities into riches. We see hints at that throughout the early parts of the trailer, showing us Strange’s early life as the medical equivalent of Tony Stark. All that comes to a screeching halt (literally) in the wake of a horrible accident, putting him on the path to self-discovery and heroism. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here…
2. A horrible accident derails Strange’s medical career
It looks like the movie will follow pretty closely with Stephen Strange’s comic book origin. In the source material, Strange suffers severe nerve damage in his hands following a brutal car crash, leaving him unable to operate on anyone ever again. This sends him spiraling, and on a search in pursuit of someone who can restore his hands (and by extension his previous life). Things don’t play out quite like he expects though, as things get … well, strange.
3. Welcome to the MCU, Rachel McAdams
Rachel McAdams’s role in Doctor Strange is still undetermined, but based on what we’re seeing here, she’ll be a medical colleague of our main character. The immediate assumption most might make is that she’ll be the token love interest, but we like to believe that superhero cinema has become more progressive than painting a female lead into one corner like that. Whatever her role is, she’s a solid addition to the MCU all around.
4. Stephen Strange searches for answers
Strange goes from “well-groomed neurosurgeon in a tux” to “bearded vagabond wandering the world” following his accident. This sends him all the way Nepal (shot on location), where he tracks down the Ancient One, a mystic rumored to have the power to heal any injuries. What he finds instead changes the course of his life forever…
5. Enter the Ancient One
Strange gets far more than he bargained for when he finally meets the Ancient One, played to maximum weirdness by the incomparable Tilda Swinton. Above we see her (“him” in the comics, props to Marvel for gender-bent casting) punching the spirit right out of Stephen, showing him the limitless possibilities of the mystical realm. While he sought only to restore his old life, the Ancient One sees vast potential for a new life, eventually training him to become the most powerful sorcerer in the world.
6. The glorious weirdness of the Doctor Strange universe
Marvel makes no attempt to ease us into the insanity of Doctor Strange, showing us all manner of tripped-out visuals. Here we have Mads Mikkelsen playing a still-unnamed villain, rumored to be a rival sorcerer to the Ancient One that breaks off to form his own evil sect. In the process, we get to see all the crazy kaleidoscope madness of his particular brand of magic. Needless to say, this won’t be your typical Marvel movie.
7. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo
Traditionally, Baron Mordo has been the prime nemesis to Doctor Strange (think Loki and Thor). Marvel will play around with that dynamic a bit for the movie though, making Mordo more of an ally than an adversary. In the comics, he’s a fellow student of the Ancient One who attempts to kill his master. Strange foils the scheme, pitting the two against each other in various battles throughout the series. For the time being at least, he’ll be working with the Sorcerer Supreme and not against him.
9. “Teach me.”
After what we can only imagine was the craziest acid trip Stephen Strange has ever been on, we see him come out the other end begging the Ancient One to take him as her pupil. Part of his character’s journey is likely to revolve around him eschewing his desire to restore his status as a gifted surgeon, as he discovers his higher purpose. It’s a classic arc that works well in this context, and when you set it to the insanity of the Doctor Strange‘s mysticism it seems like a slam dunk.
10. The fully realized Sorcerer Supreme
The Sorcerer Supreme isn’t simply a lofty title: It’s the person responsible for protecting our planet from magical and mystical threats. Doctor Strange earns the title following his training with the Ancient One, becoming the most powerful sorcerer in the world in the process. It’ll be a long road for our hero before he arrives there, but from the look of it, it’ll be a satisfying one all the same.
Doctor Strange releases nationwide November 4, 2016