Comic Convo: The Dr. Strange Trailer

Pat: So Marvel revealed our first look at the Dr Strange film in the form of a two minute teaser trailer and it certainly lived up to the title. Dr Strange was a film I always felt indifferent about but I gotta say, this trailer has me pretty excited for the film, what did you think?

Josh: Up until the announcement of Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange, I was pretty amped, especially after the director of “Sinister” was tapped to make this. After seeing the trailer, I don’t have the anxiety I did going into say “Ant-Man”.

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Pat: One thing that struck me about the trailer was how unique but still familiar it felt. On the one hand, much of the imagery and effects had an Nolanesque Inception vibe. On the other, the trailer feels like nothing else not only in the superhero genre but film as a whole. I haven’t seen a trailer for a film like this in quite sometime, especially a franchise film.

Josh: I feel like it may the first mainstream film to really use transcendental visuals that other movies have used and never really made an impact in the zeitgeist, like every film uses CGI but its all for pretty conventional things just tweaked a bit. This movie looks like it’ll try for some more interesting approaches to how it presents its story.
Speaking of the familiar, I got a strong origin story vibe from the trailer. Didn’t Marvel say they weren’t going that route for this?

Pat: I have no idea but I honestly don’t see how you could possibly make a Dr Strange movie without showing his origin. For comics fans that might be redundant but for a general public that has no idea who he is, that’s going to be absolutely necessary.

Josh: I don’t know, a lot of hero origins are kind of the same aside from certain circumstances, or maybe movies just play up the same beats over and over again. Aside from the mysticism and him being a real jerk beforehand, I can’t think of many ways he stands out from other heroes.
I feel like Kevin Feige or someone else higher up said something along the lines of “we’re not gonna do a straight origin story this time” and I was kind of excited to see how that would go since origin story movies are usually boring anyway.

Pat: “I don’t know, a lot of hero origins are kind of the same aside from certain circumstances, or maybe movies just play up the same beats over and over again”

That may be true but if the audience doesn’t know who he is, none of that matters. And considering Strange is introducing a completely new concept to superhero films in magic, an origin story is probably even more necessary

Josh: I don’t know, probably yeah that’s true. I feel like there’s a lot of wiggle room for movies to do the origin but not take more than 30-45 minutes for it.
Let’s walk it back to the Nolansque/Inception vibe angle. When I watched both trailers back to back, both had the tag line of opening your mind, and cityscapes folding in on themselves (which I’m a little surprised that hasn’t been done to death yet, it’s a neat visual).

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Pat: It is a great visual and one that thankfully hasn’t been beaten into the ground. One thing that I find interesting about Strange is that it seems to be questioning the nature of reality but in a more metaphysical way then Inception or The Matrix; two movies that I’ve seen the trailer compared to the most. Inception is set in peoples subconscious and The Matrix is based on the idea that reality as we know it is a computer simulation. What this trailer seems to suggest here, is that the film is more exploring the idea of parallel realities or the very nature of our reality being warped which does lend to some pretty cool visual moments like the city-scapes that you mentioned.

I admire that ambition in and of itself because it’s the type of story that I didn’t think you could tell convincingly in a film due to the visual constraints. That’s exactly why I read comics, to experience that kind of visual narrative. That a major film studio is attempting it with a franchise film is interesting and that it’s coming from a film based on comic books is appropriate.

Josh: I think that’s why Stan Lee said a lot of old Marvel movies (1970s-90s) didn’t take off is because the technology wasn’t there for them to accomplish what they needed to sell the characters powers.
One of the things I associate Dr. Strange with the most is the Astral plane and how he spends most of his time outside the “physical world” fighting supernatural threats, so I’m glad the movie is really taking that to heart from what I’ve seen and read.

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Pat: Yeah exactly, that’s whole Astral Plane idea is such a cool concept and I hope this film can really do it justice. Like you said, it’s only the trailer so we can’t really gleam a whole lot from the film based on such a small sample size of footage. With that said, I think it does exactly what a trailer should do which is introduce the concept and make it interesting

Josh: In that same vein, am I crazy or does it look like he meets the Ancient One in India or something? Cause that would be such a cool deviation from the comics and explore a really fascinating belief system.

Pat: It seems possible but  how could we tell bases on the footage? Also, Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One looks really cool in the trailer

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Josh: I’m still having trouble with that one, it reminds me of the Mandarin debacle where they race change a character but this time it seems like they missed the point. Unless it comes down to that’s just how he sees this mystical being that has no true form, I don’t see it working.
That said, Tilda Swinton is a good actress, and this being her second comic book movie (“Constantine”), I think she was a good catch for Marvel.

Pat: Yeah, I didn’t think it would work either but, it looks really cool in the trailer. What do you think of Cumberbatch as Strange here?

Josh: I mean, he’s the most in demand actor of his class. Before the movie was even in production people kept throwing his name for the role. Their list for Strange began and ended with Cumberbatch’s name. And he’s a phenomenal actor, its an easy win for Marvel to cast him.

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I wish they had gone with a less obvious choice, like Joaquin Phoenix. The list of people they wanted to get was really cool, and Cumberbatch was like their 4th or 5th choice.
So y’know, short answer: he’s gonna kill it. I don’t think it’s gonna be a huge stretch for him after “Sherlock”. I imagine this will be his Iron Man, it will fit right in his wheelhouse and be a crowd pleaser.

Pat: Dude Joaquin Phoenix would’ve been nutty…

Josh: I think it would’ve been a good call, he was their first choice so Marvel saw something in him. It wouldn’t be the easy sell but I’d buy the older take on the character.
Aside from RDJ, the leading roles keep going younger which is fine but Dr Strange is one role where you can have someone older and it sells better.
Either one is better than Johnny Depp though, can we agree on that?

Pat: I think Phoenix is great but post meltdown, he’s always played someone that was a little bit off in a way. Could that work for Strange? Maybe but it’d be a weird choice. Man, Johnny Depp would’ve been awful. That guy could barely act in that recent apology video with Amber Heard. I don’t want to imagine him doing his crappy Mad Hatter thing for Strange

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Josh: Agreed, I can’t believe Disney is still pushing the “Alice in Wonderland” stuff.
Rachel McAdams is briefly seen in the trailer. Do we think she fills an Evangeline Lilly or Natalie Portman-type role in the movie?

Pat: I don’t know; it’s weird because it was big news when she was announced for the movie but she seemed to have such a brief spot in the trailer. I hope it’s more then the type of role you describe because  she is great actress with a lot of range.

Josh: I think she is supposed to play Cleo, who is usually a love interest/Sorcerer Supreme of a parallel Earth. I doubt Marvel goes that route but given criticism of Lilly’s character from “Ant-Man” I have to think Marvel is giving Adams more to work with. I’m assuming she is at least a Doctor herself and not a nurse.

Pat: Yeah, that would be something.

So what’s your overall impression? Are you more or less excited prior to the trailer’s debut?

Josh: I guess more excited, but not by much. I already assumed it was in safe hands and having seen a taste of that just confirms it.
Now I’m more worried if it will just meet my expectations or blow me away when I see the actual movie.

Pat: I was pretty meh about the whole thing but seeing the trailer has increased my excitement by a lot. Outside of it being a movie about Dr Strange, I feel like it just looks like something I would want to go see regardless, which is unique for a superhero movie. In contrast, trailers for Civil War or Dawn of Justice didn’t really do a lot for me in terms of my excitement for the films as actual movies independent of their source material. This looks like a cool movie in and of itself in spite of it’s superhero connections.

Josh: When you put it like that, Dr. Strange seems like (for now) it’ll be independent of the other Marvel films which is becoming more rare as they edge closer to “Infinity Wars”. That was a huge strength for Guardians of The Galaxy, so I wonder if that will be a factor here as well.
Something else you said, about it your excitement in spite of the source material, are we expecting a mostly faithful rendition of the classic story or should we expect anything from more recent comic stories? I know you were a big fan of the Aaron/Bachelo series when it started, so I’m curious if anything from that will be introduced in the film.

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Pat: Good question; just to clarify, I like most of the Dr Strange source material that I’ve read and what I’m saying is more that independent of the source material, the Dr Strange trailer just looks like a cool movie where as trailers for more traditional superhero films tend to look pretty similar to one another so my enthusiasm for the movies tends to be more closely associated with my perception of how they are interpreting the characters.

For Dr Strange source material, that’s a character whose comics I’m not nearly as familiar with as others. Obviously I’ve read far more comics from popular source material like Batman, Superman, Captain America, the X-Men ect as their is a lot more material just in terms of sheer volume. That and, while I certainly think Dr Strange is cool, I haven’t read the same amount of comics featuring him as I have for comics character’s that I’d put in a similar weight class like say Animal Man, Black Panther, Nick Fury or Warlock. This mostly has to do with creative talent, I’ve read a lot of Warlock because I read a lot of Jim Starlin and basically anything of consequence associated with the character has come from the creator.
For Dr Strange, my experience with the character in comics basically comes from Ditko, some of the Strange Tales stuff that was paired with Steranko’s iconic Nick Fury work, Gerber & Englheart’s Defender’s run, Starlin’s extensive use of him in Infinity Gauntlet, Vaughan & Martine’s miniseries, Hickman’s use of the character in New Avengers/Secret War’s which was a choice I had for TWF and the recent Aaron/Bachello run. Based on this film, I’d suppose a modern re-interpretation of the Ditko material is by far the best source for the film as most of the later runs are predicated on Strange being well established within the Marvel universe. I’d say past that, both the Vaughan/Martine miniseries & current run from Aaron/Bachallo have a lot of potential for future films while Starlin’s Infinity Guantlet and Hickman’s usage of the character in his New Avenger’s run point to a couple ways he could fit into the Infinity War films. Is there any comic runs that you’d like to see mined for material for the film?

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Josh: “just to clarify, I like most of the Dr Strange source material I’ve read and what I’m saying is more that independent of the source material, the Dr Strange trailer just looks like a cool movie”

Right, I phrased that wrong but I got your meaning. This looks like a cool movie, not just a cool comic book film.

I’m in the same boat as you almost in terms of following the character. There were some cool moments in the JMS Spider-Man run where he would visit Strange for mystical advice like he was a regular doctor and this would be while he was in the middle of dealing with a supernatural threat on the Astral Plane or whatever. Down the line, those would be cool to see:

“Blast! I have to stop Dormammu from entering this plane.”

In comes Spidey: “Hey Doc, I got this weird emblem glowing on my chest, can you take a look at it?”

“Damn my Hypocratic oath as a Doctor! Sit down, Peter, I don’t have much time!”

Other than that, because I doubt Cumberbatch’s work schedule will allow much for cameos, I just want to see them do the character justice which is more often than not the case for Marvel films. Obviously him fighting Dormammu in the second or third movie, but again that’s down the line.

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Pat: Yeah Dormammu is a must at some point.

Josh: Do you think we’ll see anything new of the movie in upcoming trailers?
As far as trailers go I think this sells the movie pretty well without really spoiling the plot, which is becoming a huge problem for trailers these days, and I can see each proceeding one barely moving away from this one. Its a ways away for the year but I don’t see Marvel really having to sell audiences any further.

Pat: I’m sure will see more with the upcoming trailers but because so much of this one was based on imagery, as long as that’s consistent with the film, they should be able to rely on that going forward without giving away too much plot.

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