Marvel’s Doctor Strange doesn’t wrap for another three months, and the film is almost a full year away, but it appears the time to start getting excited is now. First up, an early look at Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange. There have been pictures of him snapped on the film’s Nepalese set where he looks positively ragged, likely when Strange is in search of guidance after he loses the use of his hands, but what we see here is essentially the Sorcerer Supreme as we know him from the comics, in all his robed and magical glory. Honestly? Colour me impressed.
This was one of the first times he tried on the outfit, and he seems like a pretty great fit. While this won’t come without its cultural implications, those tethered to the character’s 1960s origin (things I’ve talked about myself), the whole thing just screams eastern iconography in a really neat way, from the robes, to the belt, down to the spell he’s casting, which look like a festive Hindu design surrounded by futuristic, almost alien inscriptions, once again blurring the lines between science and magic. This is also our first clear look at what magic might look like in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the sparks add a nice touch, making it seem like a tangible thing as opposed to a computer-generated blob from another realm.
Cumberbatch also mentioned his process for figuring out what casting these spells might actually look like, and I’m pretty happy about the fact that that he’s putting this much thought into it:
“It was like, okay, I’ve got to keep throwing these poses, these spells, these rune-casting things, everything he does physically. I’m thinking, there’s going to be a huge amount of speculation and intrigue over the positioning of that finger as opposed to it being there, or there. And I’m still working on that. We haven’t played any of those scenes yet. I felt really self-conscious. But, then, by the end, it was great. It’s like anything, you just have to experiment.”
It sounds like it won’t be long before we get pictures of him in various interpretive dance poses a la Elizabeth Olsen, which was probably the best part of the buildup to Age of Ultron. What I’m really curious about though is what he’s wearing around his neck. Upon closer inspection it appears to house an amulet, and given the shooting location and the fact that Steve Ditko fashioned the Eye of Agamotto out of a symbol associated with Nepali Buddhism, I’d be willing to bet that’s what we’re looking at. Or it could be something else entirely! The Eye made a cameo in Odin’s Treasure Room in Thor, but that was more of a brief Easter egg alongside the supposed first appearance of the Infinity Gauntlet, which has now been deemed a replica in canon! It was before every known item in the Marvel universe could potentially be an Infinity Stone, and it also happens to be green. We haven’t yet seen a green one of those yet, have we? Anyway, I’m sure we’ll speculate about the possible cosmic implications ad nauseam over the next eleven months. For now, I’m just glad this picture answers my biggest question about the film: will a goatee look out-of-place on Benedict Cumberbatch? Once again, Marvel has succeeded in the facial hair department. This is why people love these movies.
Doctor Strange opens November 4th 2016, and also stars Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo, Michael Stuhlbarg as Nicodemus West, and Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen and Scott Adkins in roles we don’t even know about yet. I have a feeling we’re going to find out soon.