"Doctor Strange" checks off all the boxes one would expect from a Marvel movie.
But it also gives you at least two big action set pieces that you've never seen before and some of the most unique visuals (read: trippy) ever put in a movie -- comic book or otherwise.
The cast and filmmakers behind your latest Marvel addiction seemed very proud of their work at a recent press conference for the film in Los Angeles. Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, director Scott Derrickson, and producer/Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige were among those on hand to discuss how they brought the Sorcerer Supreme to the big screen. Here are the highlights:
1. When Cumberbatch seemed unavailable for the role due to scheduling, Derrickson met with other actors, but the filmmaker said he "still went back to Benedict. That was the guy, that was Strange."
2. The filmmakers soon realized that hitting a summer release date was not going to work if they wanted Cumberbatch in the lead role. So, to accommodate their casting needs and the actor's schedule, they pushed the film to a Fall slot. That's how you know you're a big deal as an actor, folks, when Marvel/Disney rearranges their calendar to service yours.
3. What convinced Mads Mikkelsento play villain Kaecilius? Kung-fu. When the director pitched the film to the actor over the phone, roughly five to ten minutes in, Derrickson dropped "and there's a lot of kung-fu and flying." Since the actor grew up watching old-school kung-fu films, that's all he needed to hear to be sold on the role. "I said 'whoa whoa, what? Kung-fu?' I'm in," Mikkelsen recalled.
4. The primary source of inspiration for Derrickson's unique visual choices were the "early '60s Stan Lee and Steve Ditko comics," with emphasis on the more psychedelic imagery. 5. When it came to the action scenes and set pieces, the studio fully committed to a line in Derrickson's initial pitch to Marvel: "The goal is for every set piece in this movie to be the weirdest set piece in any other movie."
6. To that end, the director worked hard with his team to "get more creative" with set pieces that involved mass destruction. "The movies that do that are memorable," Derrickson said, "and change the way you feel about cinema." While the filmmaker was modest, saying he is unsure if they achieved that with "Strange," he is confident that the film offers sequences that "give audiences their money's worth."
7. Those unique hand gestures the Ancient One and Strange use in the movie? It's called finger tutting, and yes, the actors were trained on how to do it properly. "We had a specialist show us," Swinton said. "He taught us a series of extraordinary and very precise movements."
The Oscar-winner also recalled that, at times, she struggled with the precision of the movements -- making sure her fingers didn't pass in front of her face in a certain way that would negate the reason for the move at all.
8. When Cumberbatch first put on the costume, he behaved much like you would by geeking out. "Was giddy like a child," the actor said. When a costume designer saw Cumberbatch seeing himself for the first time in the full outfit, she remarked: "Oh, you're having a superhero moment, aren't you?"
9. That wasn't the only time the notion of playing the Marvel hero really hit home for the actor. On the last day of shooting -- while they were near-ready to shoot a scene on the blocked-off streets of New York City -- Cumberbatch noticed they were near a comic book shop.
So, with his phone, the director filmed his star entering the shop on a whim. And in full Strange attire -- the cloak, the hair, everything. Cumberbatch recalled that after he first introduced himself to the owner and the few patrons inside, they couldn't believe he was there buying Doctor Strange comics.
10. Actually, he didn't have any money on him. Because wearing costume. "So I offered to work it off [in the store] or something in exchange for payment," Cumberbatch said. "And the owner was like, he said something like: 'Fine, but you have to keep your American accent if you wanna work there.'"
11. Everyone knows that Strange will appear in "Avengers: Infinity War." And now we know when the actor reports for shooting. "Early next year," Feige revealed to reporters.
"Doctor Strange" hits theaters Nov. 4.