Having written about Doctor Strange earlier in the week, I debated whether or not to write a review on the trailer, particularly since I was relatively sceptical about whether or not audiences would be able to appreciate Marvel’s exploration into a new dimension of the universe by introducing magic.
Upon seeing the trailer, I changed my mind about writing a review (obviously), namely because this is a Marvel trailer like we’ve never really seen before. Seemingly, director Scott Derrickson has moved beyond the barrage of humour and action shots synonymous with Marvel trailers, and instead focused on more hallucinatory visuals and multiple shots of a haunted looking protagonist (Benedict Cumberbatch). In short, I feel like it is more akin to a DC comics trailer, which is interesting, if not a little apprehension inducing.
Don’t get me wrong, the sneak previous for Doctor Strange certainly looks interesting, but whether or not this introduces the good doctor in a manner befitting to the comic canon, or whether it goes the way of The Green Lantern and bombards audiences with too much too soon, thus ruining the origin of what could be a hugely profitable franchise, is possible.
It’s an origin story
This should go without saying, but Marvel admitted they were moving away from the origin story once they progressed into Phase III – however, I’m glad that they have reconsidered simply dropping Doctor Strange into the Marvel universe without proper introduction; he is too unique and ultimately too important to the progression of the Marvel cinematic franchise to simply have him show up as a cameo – I think it might work well with Black Panther, but not with Doctor Strange.
However, this does relate back to my previous point: due to Marvel’s new stance on origin stories, will Doctor Strange become rushed, and will it ruin one of Marvel’s most popular, yet commercially illusive characters?
Baron Mordo, the antagonist?
As mentioned in a previous post, Chiwetel Ejifor plays Baron Mordo, traditionally, one of Doctor Strange’s renowned core arch nemeses.
While traditionally a villain, the trailer hasn’t established whether or not Mordo will be the focal antagonist in the upcoming Doctor Strange movie. Although the trailer does seem to be in keeping with tradition – namely the early dynamic between the Baron and Strange, I think that the relationship shift from friend to foe won’t be as a result of the Baron’s betrayal of The Ancient One outright, but something else entirely.
Who is Mads Mikkelsen?
The Doctor Strange trailer offers audiences insight into a particularly villainous looking character, played by Mads Mikkelson (Casino Royale, Hannibal). If you were to look at IMDB, there is no character name next to Mikkelson’s, which is curious – if not hugely annoying.
It could suggest that Marvel still aren’t entirely sure what to do with him – which this late on in the game doesn’t say much for the success of the movie – or that there is going to be an enormous, core shifting plot twist, that will ultimately affect the rest of the Doctor Strange franchise.
Looking at the image, and considering the Doctor Strange comic book history, it could well be that this is an incarnation of Strange’s other arch nemesis, Dormammu – exciting, maybe, but canonically speaking, this would make no sense.
Firstly, Dormammu is an already established canon character, as ruler of the dark dimension – something that the trailer hasn’t’ touched upon, and something that requires a lot more back story, as well as a few more characters and a time shift to work. Secondly, in the comics, when Dormammu did leave the dark dimension, he became significantly weaker, and much easier to defeat – something which would be a travesty to occur so early on in the Doctor Strange franchise.
What’s the plot?
While there are some beautifully intriguing visuals present in the Doctor Strange trailer, there is a relative lacking in direction towards the fundamental plot of the movie. Watching the trailer, there is nothing that can be solidly derived from it, which ultimately leaves me feeling rather ambivalent towards the movie as a whole.
While Stephen Strange’s origin story is shown: the arrogance of his neurosurgeon persona, the car crash and harrowing visual of his hands filled with pins as a result – it’s all there. As is his desire to restore his hands to their former glory, thus travelling and hanging out with the Ancient one, but that’s it, really.
I know it’s a teaser trailer, but there should at least be some meat to it, wouldn’t you agree? I felt that there were far more questions post-trailer, than there were before.
Firstly – what is Rachel McAdams doing there, who is she? Similar to Mads Mikkelsen, she also doesn’t have a name next to her character on the Doctor Strange IMDB page. Is she supposed to be portraying Strange’s comic book love, Clea? If so, I think she’d make a great Clea, but this deviates so far from canon that it doesn’t seem plausible. Ultimately, Clea is the niece and eventual prisoner of Dormammu… surely there needs to be both a dark dimension, and a Dormammu for her to be introduced so soon in the franchise?
Secondly, I feel like I really need to know whether the movie is going to be focused entirely on Strange’s exploration into his new self; is it going to be a two and a half hour self-exploration mission from arrogance to enlightenment, leading to Strange becoming earth’s sorcerer supereme, or is it going to rush this bit in order to focus on the potential Dormammu villain, ruin the dark dimension aspect of the canon and return to Greenwich Village to fall in love with this person who may or may not be Clea, thus further ruining the canon? You see my dilemma?
In terms of Marvel’s exploration into the wider universe, I appreciate that Doctor Strange was the best way to go; he is vital to a lot of other core elements that the Marvel universe is currently exploring. Moreover, drawing similarities with Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange is offering audiences something entirely new – although perhaps less comical.
My main concern is that there is going to be a huge focus on filling as much of the Doctor Strange historical time line into one movie, in order to get him where he needs to be before Infinity Wars (I’m calling cameo – you heard it here first!), which will fundamentally ruin Doctor Strange, who, if done correctly, could be a main contender in the continued success of Marvel’s cinematic stronghold.
Doctor Strange is released in cinemas in the UK in October and US in November.