It has been a blow out week for movie trailers. On Monday, we were treated to another glimpse of the highly anticipated Suicide Squad, followed by the first official teaser for the Harry Potter spin-off, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them on the Tuesday, AND THEN, Marvel go ahead and reveal a debut teaser for Doctor Strange on Wednesday. All of these studios battling it out for our attention and there is only one winner – us. We’ve not even hit the weekend yet and I’m sat here with a stupid smile on my face.
Addressing our Wednesday treat, Doctor Strange tells the story of Stephen Strange, a brilliant yet arrogant surgeon who, after a severe car crash, loses his ability to perform surgery. In a bid to rebuild his career, Strange desperately searches for a way to overcome his injuries and finds a sorcerer who decides to teach him the way of magic and defend the world against evil. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the titular role, leading a stellar cast (and I mean STELLAR) that includes Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton and Chiwitel Ejiofer (I spelt that without having to check, honest) with Scott Derrickson sat in the director’s chair.
The most striking aspect of this brief trailer is that, in its visual style, it looks markedly different to any other MCU film. Whilst each Marvel movie strives to differentiate itself within the genre (e.g. Winter Soldier is a political thriller/Ant-Man is a heist film) there is a stylistic brand across the universe that is instantly recognisable with its bright, wide shots and sassy one-liners. Doctor Strange doesn’t seem to follow the same creed. This can most likely be attributed to Scott Derrickson’s successful history in the horror genre (Sinister, Deliver Us From Evil) with an overcast tone to the trailer being accompanied by a dark filter that feels much more accustomed to a Christopher Nolan film, especially when you factor in the visually stunning city folding shot, akin to Nolan’s Inception. To put it short, Doctor Strange doesn’t look like anything we have ever seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
There is also a heavy focus on Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange, as we see flashes of the accident that caused his injuries and the aftermath of losing his job, scraggly beard and all. Origin story may have become something of a taboo word within the genre but for a character as obscure as Doctor Strange, showing his origins and initial motivations are absolutely necessary for the audience understanding and coming to care about his character. Putting Stephen Strange front and centre of every single marketing campaign is the key to familiarising him with a wider audience. Cumberbatch will also help with the audience synchronisation, the biggest casting of the MCU so far, and he seems to fit the bill perfectly, a critically regarded dramatic actor playing the most peculiar superhero yet. That being said, I’m yet to be convinced on Cumberbatch’s American accent. Time will tell.
Doctor Strange represents a risk for Marvel. Telling the story of an obscure superhero as well as bringing a brand new magical element to a universe, that was established by Iron-Man in scientific foundations, was always going to be a delicate situation but having released a box office smash about a talking raccoon and sentient tree, do Marvel take risks or just ready their bank account?