Comic book movie fans in Fresno and all over the world got a real treat last night as the very first teaser trailer for Doctor Strange, the fourteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, debuted on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! last night and also was released online. And if the contents of this trailer are any indication, than Doctor Strange might be Marvel’s, err…strangest, but entry yet.
The trailer, which can be viewed here, sums up the story of Dr. Stephen Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), the world’s top neurosurgeon who successful career and lifestyle is ruined after he finds himself in a terrible tragic accident that sends his car into the river and cripples his hands. As we see these tragic images, we get a voice over advising Stephen to forget everything he knows. We then are treated to a montage of Stephen as he is rushed to the ER, recovering as he hands become useless to him. There are a few contrasting shots of Stephen’s life when he was a successful and perhaps more arrogant man, such as a shot of Stephen clean shaven and looking out his penthouse window in a sleek tuxedo, then immediately contrasted with a shabby and scruffy Stephen looking out the same window with crippled hands. There is also a shot of Stephen cleaning his hands about to perform surgery, which is then immediately contrasted with the current Stephen standing in a prison cell with shaking hands and looking clearly distressed. During these images we hear a voice over from another character, the Ancient One (played by Tilda Swinton), a mystic from a foreign land who becomes Strange’s mentor and is training pupils to be the next Sorcerer Supreme, the most powerful sorcerer of magic in Earth’s dimension. She describes Stephen as a man looking at the world through a keyhole, who has spent his life trying to widen it, whose work saved the lives of thousands; but now she tells Stephen that that reality is only one of many.
Despite insisting that he does not believe in fairy tales about chakras or energy or the power of belief, Stephen finds himself traveling to Tibet on a quest for spiritual guidance. During this portion of the trailer we are also shown a few images of Baron Karl Mordo (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), a former student of the Ancient One and a powerful sorcerer in his own right. The Ancient One says she sees possibility in Stephen as he punches him in a martial arts movie that somehow separates his astral form from his physical body. From this point we are treated to a montage of very trippy and amazingly surreal imagery that will undoubtedly remind many movie lovers of Christopher Nolan’s Inception, such as an entire city turning into a rotating cubic illustration of itself, or seeing Stephen seemingly tumble from one location straight into another. Given that Doctor Strange comics were particularly known for their trippy, mindbending imagery and dark undertones (we are talking about dark magic here after all), this kind of imagery is very appropriate and further set the film apart from its predecessors in the franchise. After experiencing his vision, Stephen, once the unbeliever, kneels before the Ancient One and says, “Teach me.” The final image after the title card is of Stephen walking away from camera in full Doctor Strange garb, cape flapping in the wind, towards a familiar, iconic window of his magical headquarters, the Sanctum Sanctorum.
I have to say, as a comics fan and as a film fan, I am really excited by what I am seeing here. Marvel have long since proven that they can sell even their most obscure characters to a mass audience and the imagery and storytelling we’re seeing in Doctor Strange is bound to capture the interests of a lot of moviegoers.
Doctor Strange is currently slated for release on November 4, 2016.