To some, Marvel’s next hero, Doctor Strange, needs no introduction. To others, he needs a big one.
Thankfully, Marvel took note after the Guardians of the Galaxy preview two summers ago and likely decided that a preview of Doctor Strange was necessary to introduce audiences to the first new hero of Phase 3 of the MCU (not counting Black Panther, who already got an sizable introduction arc in Captain America: Civil War and whose film is coming out in February 2018).
While this extended theatrical preview wasn’t a full scene and then some, it instead provided short scenes that acted as a synopsis of sorts for what I would assume to be the first hour and a half of the nearly 2-hour film from director Scott Derrickson and writers C. Robert Cargill and Jon Spaihts.
Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), an egotistical and dexterous neurosurgeon at the top of his game, banters with co-worker Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) and extends an invite to a symposium talk, but she declines. En-route that night, Strange is distracted by X-rays of a potential patient on his phone, gets clipped by a car, and is sent flipping and careening in his sports car into a river, badly damaging his hands. After multiple surgeries that fail to restore full functionality to his hands, he spends his remaining funds on a ticket to Kamar-Taj to find The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) to be cured, only to have his eyes opened – especially his third eye – with very trippy Steve Ditko-era astral projection, including a very handsy few seconds, if you’ll pardon the pun. (This sequence was featured at SDCC back in July, which Collider covered.)
He is convinced and stays to continue his training under the direction of Wong (Benedict Wong), who doesn’t take to Strange’s wry sense of humor but instead counters with a darker quip, and he learns that the Masters of the Mystical Arts defend the world from interdimensional threats with a planet-sized ward around the Earth. Eventually, Strange and Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) are called upon to stop the wayward Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his zealot followers, which is when time starts to go in reverse and cities (New York, mainly) are turned topsy-turvy a la MC Escher and Inception – thanks in part to a musical cue that’s very reminiscent of the Hans Zimmer score.
Overall, this was a good preview of what’s to come in just under a month, but I do have my gripes:
- Cumberbatch’s Strange sounds close to Hugh Laurie’s Greg House, but adjusting to the accent may take some time.
- The visuals in IMAX 3D do look stunning and the trippiest thing to come out of the MCU since the end of Ant-Man, but I don’t know if I’d be up for paying extra for around an hour’s-worth of up-converted footage.
- As for how the footage was cut together, I was hoping for something closer to the Guardians preview rather than the synopsis feeling.
- Speaking of how the footage was cut, whoever decided it was a good idea to include Stan Lee’s on-point cameo near the end of the preview needs to learn what’s okay to spoil and what’s not okay to spoil.
Doctor Strange hits theaters on November 4 in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D, and nothing will stop me from experiencing the Ditko-inspired multiverse on the big screen – not even Dormammu.