[SPOILERS for those who haven’t seen Doctor Strange ahead.]
If there’s one thing that Marvel’s Doctor Strange has been receiving universal praise for, it’s the film’s mind-bending and psychedelic visuals. One of the only times you’ll hear critics urging you to see a film in 3D, Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) trip through the cinematic multiverse and into alternate dimensions have helped to make the film stand out from the rest of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date, and also helped to elevate its action and set pieces above other blockbusters being released nowadays. Suffice it to say, it seems like Marvel’s trip into the Astral Plane has proven to be yet another successful one for the studio.
One of the film’s most intense and technically-complex sequences comes at the end of the film, when Cumberbatch’s Strange, helped by Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Wong (Benedict Wong) team up to take on Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his followers to try and stop them from fully unleashing the Dark Dimension onto Earth. While the time-twisting nature of the Hong Kong destruction is applause-worthy in its own right too, it’s the moment when Strange finally takes a trip into the dark dimension and faces off with Dormammu that comic book fans were waiting years to see.
There’s been a lot of discussion by the fans about the film’s take on the iconic comic book villain, which implements the character’s sheer size in some interesting ways but throws out the fiery elements of his design at the same time. Thanks to some new concept art from the film though, we’ve gotten our first look at some of the other alternate designs Dormammu could have been brought to life as, which you can see below:
Based on these designs, it seems like Scott Derrickson, Kevin Feige, and co. always had a fairly clear idea of what they wanted to do with Dormammu in this film. A majority of the images keep the lined, dark and almost endless nature of the character’s face, though some of them also implement the more traditional shape and style of his design from the comics than others. Like with many of the film’s multi-dimensional sequences and locations as well, this take on Dormammu, at the very least, is unlike anything else we’ve seen not only in the MCU before, but on the big screen entirely.
Now, considering how iconic and beloved of a villain Dormammu is, it seems entirely possible that we haven’t seen the last of the Dark Dimension ruler. While Ejiofor’s Mordo seems like he’s being set up to be the sequel’s main villain, Kevin Feige and co. have shown a knack for subverting expectations when it comes to their villains before, for better or worse. It’ll be interesting to see how and if Dormammu plays a larger role in the MCU moving forward, and if his forms/appearance ever changes along the way.