I have to begin with a confession: Marvel brings out the Nerdiest Nerd in me.
So when I was invited to a pre-screening of the new Marvel Doctor Strange movie recently I was prepared to let my Nerdy Self come out and play. You can then imagine what the press junket was like with a room full of Marvel Nerdy Nerds. (<–That should be a legit title, but that’s not important right now.)
First of all, look at this interview list!
- Benedict Cumberbatch (“Doctor Stephen Strange”)
- Rachel McAdams (“Christine Palmer”)
- Tilda Swinton (“The Ancient One”)
- Benedict Wong (“Wong”)
- Mads Mikkelsen (“Kaecilius”)
- Director Scott Derrickson
- Producer Kevin Feige
Can I just tell you that one of the main elements that makes the Marvel films so compelling is the fact that the creators are all such fan boys of the original comics. This shows through in their movie making.
Doctor Strange made his first appearance in the Marvel comics in 1963. As producer (and No. 1 Marvel Fan Boy) Kevin Feige explains,
KF: “There are these street-level narratives of the Marvel Universe that we’ve seen in a lot of films. There is the cosmic level which ‘Thor’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy” and ‘The Avengers’ have taken us to. But there always has been a very important supernatural side to the Marvel comics, and we haven’t really touched on that. And ‘Doctor Strange’ is our perfect entry point into that realm.”
The story is about world-famous neurosurgeon, Doctor Stephen Strange. His life is forever changed after a horrific car accident robs him of the use of his hands.
When traditional medicine fails him, he is forced to look for healing, and hope, in an unlikely place—a mysterious enclave known as Kamar-Taj. Of course, because this is the Marvel universe he is entering, he quickly learns that this is not just a center for healing but also the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying our reality. Of course.
Before long Strange and his newly acquired super powers, is forced to choose whether to return to his former life with all the fortune and status, or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.
Pretty compelling stuff, no?
My favorite part of the press conference (which I totally want to share with you) was when Benedict Cumberbatch tells about the first time he found himself regaled in all his superhero costume awesomeness. This story really was the highlight of the day for me. (Also, I know there were other people in the cast, but I only had eyes for Benedict. I know. Shut up.)
BC: I was sort of giddy like a child at Halloween. (He looked in the mirror for the first time and saw himself as Doctor Strange.) It was the first moment, really properly, and Alex, our brilliant designer who’s done a few of these films spotted it, and went, “Oh, you’re having the superhero moment, aren’t you?”
I went, “Yeah, I think I am.” It really was the penny drop moment for me. You know, this film had lots of alluring qualities, lots of things that made me really want to go to it and this character in particular. Scott and Kevin were pitching to me his trajectory, his origin story and where he was going to lie within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Journey he goes on was sort of supremely important to me. The qualities of drama, but also great humor and oddness and unique weirdness and newness that we were going to bring visually.
So, I’d kind of put the hero thing on the back burner. So, when I first had that moment, it really was quite giddy. I did stand up just giggling.
The Real-World Comic Book Connection
Benedict and Director Scott Derrickson went on to tell the hilarious story of Benedict dressed in full Doctor Strange regalia on the last day they were shooting in New York.
BC: I went into a comic book store, which was the last day shooting in New York.
SD: I have the video on my phone. I’ve never sent it to anybody but Benedict. It was a spontaneous thing. He said, “There’s a comic book store right there.” And he was in full Doctor Strange gear.
I said, “We have to go in.”
And he goes, “We should. Shouldn’t we?”
I go, “We’ll film it. It’ll just be us.”
And we were getting ready to shoot, and I say, “Okay!”
I put the camera on him and then he just introduced himself (to the camera) and said, “I’m about to go into this comic book store.” I followed him in and the people who were there couldn’t believe that it was Doctor Strange.
The comic book store owner said if the movie didn’t work out he could work there but he had to keep his American accent.
BC: It was a magic, magic moment – no pun intended.
Magic. It’s everywhere in this film. It was evident in the press conference. It’s evident in the storytelling. As Benedict Cumberbatch said over and over,
“It was magic, magic, magic.”
Doctor Strange opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, November 4th, 2016