Film Trailers

Trailer: Doctor Strange Looks Like Inception Meets the Matrix Meets Iron Man

To quote Jerry Maguire, “We live in a cynical world, a cynical world.” As such, it is easy to crap all over the release of yet another comic book movie trailer. Look upon the talented cast and lament the amazing movies they didn’t get to make while having to settle for such an obvious paycheck gig. Openly wonder if we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel when we make a movie about a guy who can control ants (Ant-Man) or put out two movies in the same year with the exact same hero vs. hero gimmick (Batman v Superman, Captain America: Civil War). Cry foul about the nonstop parade of increasingly fake-looking CGI. Pull a Alejandro G. Inarritu and complain about pop culture enabling adults who refuse to grow up. Or come at it from a total geek perspective and point out all the things they got wrong in the transition from page to screen.

The latest example is Doctor Strange, the Scott Derickson-directed Marvel Studios film whose first trailer debuted on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night. Is this really the best use of Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton and Mads Mikkelsen’s time? What will this be, the 7th comic book movie of 2016? Also, isn’t Doctor Strange basically just Tony Stark with magic?

Uh-huh. Yeah, yeah, yeah…forget all of that right now because Doctor Strange looks amazing!

Or totally weird.

Or it just stands out so much because of its mind-bending imagery.

Sure. All of those things. Here’s the trailer:

Did you see the part where Tilda Swinton punched the, I wanna say soul, straight out of Cumberbatch? Suck it, Morpheus from The Matrix. You could never do that to Neo, and you two were fighting in a computer simulation!

OMG, so cool. But did you also see that one part where that one guy seemed to change the shape and direction of the room in front of him by simply waving his arms?

OMG, OMG, so, so cool. But did you see that Inception shot where an entire city landscape seemed to be closing in on itself?

Yeah, but what the heck is actually happening? A surgeon has a car crash, and his totally normal recovery involves traveling to some Far East land to learn magic from a bald mystic who’s not at all Asian? Plus, why in the world is Cumberbatch using an American accent? Just let the dude use his natural accent. What, if he sounds British we won’t accept him as the hero because Brits can only play bad guys? Also, how can the universe depicted in that trailer possibly be the same universe as the one Tony Stark and Steve Rogers are about to tear apart?

Hey, shut up, other side of my brain. This movie will be a national treasure, and I will hear no more sass from you. Just look at all the purdy pictures in the trailer. This is going to be the first superhero movie of the modern era possibly best enjoyed in a slightly altered state. Plus, doesn’t Marvel Studios deserve our praise for taking yet another big, universe-expanding risk? It worked for them with Guardians of the Galaxy, didn’t it? Now they’re letting their legitimately Oscar-certified cast and ambitious young director deliver yet another superhero movie which is thoroughly unlike anything else any of the other comic book movie companies are doing right now.

I’ll close with a quick note about online movie rumors: In mid-August 2014, Devin Faraci said, “Marvel’s new thing is no more origin stories. So, the Doctor Strange movie no longer has an origin story. Instead, it will pick up in medias res where Stephen Strange has already ascended to Sorcerer Supreme status.”

Except, of course, this first trailer is entirely about Stephen Strange’s origin story. Maybe those are all flashbacks, or maybe what was once true about a film production can change quite rapidly. Either way, I am frankly relieved Doctor Strange will include an origin story because I’ve never read a Doctor Strange comic book before. I currently know very little about this character beyond his appearances on Avengers Assemble and the parody of him on The Venture Bros. Marvel can get away with skipping past the origin story for its new Spider-Man movie, but for someone like Doctor Strange it’s still necessary.

Here’s Doctor Orpheus on Venture Bros.:

If you’d like to know more about Doctor Strange’s comic book history, I recommend DenOfGeek’s general overview and ComicBookResources highlighted stories. For more specific takes, I also recommend WhatCulture’s explanation of The Ancient One (Swinton’s character) and DenOfGeek’s exploration of Baron Mordo (Ejiofor’s character).

Doctor Strange will further fuck with all of our heads on November 4, 2016 (FYI, that’s my birthday). That will be an oddly magical month since WB’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is due out November 18, 2016.


  1. Yeah, the accent was the one thing which disappointed me about the trailer…otherwise I have a feeling that they have only showed a sliver of what they will do visually. They promised Fantasia-like imaginary, so I expect them to do at least one thing we haven’t seen in another movie beforehand.

    1. It actually took me a moment to realize that was Cumberbatch when I heard the accent. By stripping him of his signature British accent, it’s like Doctor Strange is giving us the Diet Coke version of Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s good enough and it’ll get the job done, but you just know there’s a far better tasting can of pop out there.

      Other than that, I am super onboard with this movie after that trailer. If there is even more Fantasia-like imagery, on the way I’m all for it.

  2. I was really hoping there wouldn’t be an origin story in this one. Or at the very least, a very quick sequence. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely did it best in their All-Star Superman story: one page (perhaps the equivalent of 5 minutes in a movie) at the beginning of their 12-part epic.

    1. I agree about All-Star Superman, but there’s a monumental difference between the cultural familiarity with Superman and Doctor Strange. Certain characters have arguably risen above the need for yet another cinematic origin, but when this is Doctor Strange’s first proper crack at it (since everyone seems to agree that the 1978 movie doesn’t count) I am more forgiving of them going the origin story route. However, it’s also possible that Devin Faraci was at least partially correct in 2014, and that while this trailer presents things in a far more linear fashion the film itself could have a jumbled narrative which flashes back to the origin, not dissimilar to Deadpool.

      1. Oh no doubt about the differences in familiarity between the characters. While I’m quite versed in Dr. Strange’s history, I can’t expect the average moviegoer to share the same knowledge.
        That said, I really hope this movie isn’t *half* (or more) origin story. I just feel like there has to be a way to get the essential origin stuff out in the most minimal yet informative and quick fashion possible, so the story can get on.
        Or if they have to go with an extended origin story, maybe they’ll go with your suggestion of not in a linear fashion.

      2. And I’m someone who’s on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to Dr. Strange’s history. Other than his occasional appearances in some cartoons, he’s mostly a mystery to me.

        That being said, there is a certain simplicity to the origin depicted in the trailer, even if we’re probably missing a crucial step between card accident and trains with The Ancient One. It doesn’t quite seem like it would have to take up half the movie. I’d actually really dig it if we meet him in full-0n Sorceror Supreme mode, casting spells and melting our browns with amazing imagery before something, either a plot point or person quickly triggers a flashback.

      3. That being said, there is a certain simplicity to the origin depicted in the trailer, even if we’re probably missing a crucial step between card accident and trains with The Ancient One.

        That’s one thing Dr. Strange has going for him: his origin isn’t terribly complex. One element is missing from the trailer that has usually informed his character: he’s usually been portrayed as an arrogant doctor prior to the accident. Between the car crash and his later tutelage under the Ancient One, he comes to know humility.

      4. I gather that’s a big reason why he’s so consistently called “Tony Stark with Magic” by comic fans. There really wasn’t much of that arrogance in the trailer, though, you’re right. I imagine it will be in the next trailer since this first one was more about “Look at how totally trippy this movie’s going to be.”

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