Sherlock Holmes Unleashes the Magic in the MCU – #DoctorStrange

Sherlock Holmes meets the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Benedict Cumberbatch, a brilliant actor who has done a number of marquee roles, is probably best known for his take on the BBC show Sherlock as the titular character.  Benedict’s Sherlock cleverly captures the essence of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective but with a modern twist.  Some might even see similarities between him and Doctor Strange, but Benedict assures us they are different.  “In the  Venn diagram of similarities, there is the crossover of clever and arrogant I suppose and workaholic, but you know, Strange is a materialist, he’s egocentric, yes.  But he’s got charm and he’s witty; he’s liked by his colleagues; he’s had relationships with them.  He’s not this sort of cut-off, outsider, sociopathic, asexual, obsessive that Sherlock is. So yeah, there’s a world of difference and he lives in New York and eats bagels every now and again so that’s also different. You know, he’s a man of the world, as opposed to Sherlock who isn’t.”

Benedict Cumberbatch at the press conference (left) and as Doctor Strange (right)
Benedict Cumberbatch at the press conference (left) and as Doctor Strange (right)

But when Kevin Feige (Producer) and Scott Derrickson (Director) went searching for their lead actor, both were not only sure that Benedict was the right choice, they were committed to casting him.  Scott recalls the process, “I flew to London, met with (Benedict), explained the movie. I think I had some of my concept art at that point and Benedict really wanted to do it, but he was doing Hamlet in theatre in London. We were a summer release movie, so it wasn’t going to work, and I came back and I met with a bunch of other actors, good actors, but I just felt like it had to be Benedict and Kevin, to his credit, agreed, and so we pushed the schedule for him.”

From L to R: Scott Derrickson (director), Benedict Wong (Wong), Tilda Swinton (The Ancient One), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), Rachel McAdams (Christine Palmer), Mads Mikkelsen (Kaecilius), Kevin Feige (Producer)
From L to R: Scott Derrickson (director), Benedict Wong (Wong), Tilda Swinton (The Ancient One), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), Rachel McAdams (Christine Palmer), Mads Mikkelsen (Kaecilius), Kevin Feige (Producer)

Why Doctor Strange though?  Why is now the right time for this movie in the scope of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?  Kevin Feige shared with us that it was all about timing.  “[W]e always say we have to push the boundaries, we have to keep surprising people, we have to keep making them unique and different, and certainly this movie and this character fits all of that. And also tapping into other
dimensions and tapping into sort of that supernatural realm of the Marvel Comic Universe is going to come in handy, as we move forward throughout the Cinematic Universe, so the timing was perfect.”

Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One teaching Stephen Strange (left) and at the press conference (right)
Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One teaching Stephen Strange (left) and at the press conference (right)

For me, the surprise talent in the movie is Tilda Swinton who plays The Ancient One.  In the Marvel Comics, The Ancient One is a man, Asian looking, and much, much older.  But Swinton was not only convincing in the role, but made you forget there were other iterations of the character.  She made you believe that she was truly a Master of the Mystic Arts – a title that one day will belong to Doctor Strange if the film goes the way of the comic books.  Tilda was asked about the movement of the hands that plays such a big part in the mystical side of the movie.  “Well, that hand choreography is a thing called tutting,” Tilda said. “We had a proper master working with us for weeks, I would say, I mean, just as much as learning martial arts we were learning how to tutt, with J-­Funk who is somewhere here possibly, but if he’s not you should go on YouTube and look for J-­Funk ‘cause he really knows how to do it and he’s got properly magic fingers, not like our fingers, like real non-­CGI fingers. And he taught us a series of extraordinary, very precise movements which have to be super-­precise because if you’re going to go like that (makes a spell casting motion), you have to be at a certain point where the line is going to be drawn between your fingers and you can’t of course be in front of your face which was always my issue – I was always in front of my face with it. And then you have to be exactly the right width so that you’re in the frame, and it was super-­precise and kind of hairy, but really good fun.”  Benedict said that Tilda was being extremely humble because on top of doing these movements she had to also inject a lot of dialogue in the midst of it all.

Rachel McAdams portrays Christine Palmer in the new Doctor Strange movie
Rachel McAdams portrays Christine Palmer in the new Doctor Strange movie

Rachel McAdams plays the brilliant and caring Christine Palmer.  In the comics, Christine is also known as The Night Nurse who secretly takes care of injured super heroes.  We see her taking care of Doctor Strange in the film, but what role she will ultimately play in the MCU has yet to be revealed.  Rachel told us that Christine was an “amalgamation of a bunch of different characters… which I was kind of excited about because she could be a new invention in a way.”  When asked about her time on the set, Rachel shared she had the opportunity to “delve into the medical side of things,” and said, “…in a pinch I could probably suture someone up now.”

Benedict Wong told us “Growing up as a kid I was always collecting Marvel comics and especially
Spider-Man comics, and it’s just lovely to see my investment as a child has fruition in my adult life.” But the funniest answer during the press conference belonged to Mads Mikkelsen who portrays the film’s villain, Kaecilius.  When asked about accepting the role he responded, “When Scott was pitching this story for me, I think 10 minutes into the pitch he said, ‘…and there’s a lot of kung fu and flying stuff.’ I said, ‘Whoa, hold on, rewind. Kung fu? I’m in. Let’s go.’ It’s a childhood dream coming true. It’s just amazing that at the age of 108 I get the chance to fly around in orange clothes.” He’s definitely the most spry 108 year old I’ve ever seen.

Doctor Strange is a seriously wonderful movie and a welcome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the chemistry between the actors at the press conference was definitely present in the film as well.  Marvel once again put together an amazing ensemble cast for this mystical movie.

  • Doctor Strange opens nationwide on November 4th

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