The upcoming fourteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Strange, seems to be getting off to a good start, given the early critical reactions to the film. This origin story for the Sorcerer Supreme is said to have some trippy visuals and other benefits to make it another big screen Marvel adventure to enjoy, despite some familiar issues found in the MCU. One of the best-known examples of those “issues” is the MCU’s lack of memorable villains.
The great Mads Mikkelson has a lot to look forward to this fall, given both his role in the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and as Kaecilius, the villain in Doctor Strange. It would be even better if Kaecilius made a much larger impact than the other talented actors, as Marvel villains who (as mentioned) sadly left less of an impression in the past. Screen Rant was able to quesiton Mikkelson about his perspective on playing a villain during the Doctor Strange press conference, which at least provided some good insight on building the role.
From the press conference (beware of some possible minor SPOILERS):
Q: “You’ve played in a Bond film, you’ve played Hannibal, so you’ve done these really iconic villains, who were really relegated to villains, so to speak. Here you play a character, from his perspective, he’s the hero, he’s going to save the world, and he kills people and that’s definitely a sign of villainy it’s not really that different from what the good guys are saying, “yes we have to kill but it’s to save the world for a great good.” Can you talk a little bit about approaching a villainous role, that everything you did, did you kinda come into it just thinking, “I’m gonna play this character as a hero”, as far as feeding into the story about him trying to save the world?”
Mikkelson: “I always think all characters as a hero. I think we have look at them that way. The key to any good villain, which I think was very clear from the beginning of this journey, is that they have a point. It’s not completely crazy what they’re saying. That is a point, even in Doctor Strange’s eyes he does believe I have a point, and I think that’s the key for a villain. You have to have something to identify with so he just doesn’t go ballistic and say, I’m going to take over the world because I can. No, it’s a reason. It doesn’t make sense. “What’s he thinking about out there?” Honestly, playing it safe for a fraction of time, it doesn’t make sense. So I want to do something, and I think the villains should be like that. It’s in the script and Scott was on that page, so we tried to make him a man who knows what he’s talking about, a little bit like a demigod, Jamestown, Jonestown, or whatever it’s called, somebody who believes, utterly in what he says.”
It is not unfamiliar to hear an actor explain that a villain becomes more interesting when they believe themselves to be right in their convictions. However, it does provide some context concerning the upcoming Doctor Strange that should set up some hopes that Kaecilius will be a strong presence in the film. As opposed to a student of Baron Mordo, as in the comics, the character in the film is said to be a combination of a few different Doctor Strange comic book villains. This means Mikkelson is not required to be slavishly devoted to the source material – not that this has stopped him from leaving an indelible stamp as other villains, in the past (think Hannibal).
The best hope for fans is that Kaecilius will be a Marvel villain worth caring about. That doesn’t mean he will suddenly rise to the ranks of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki or even Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull, but it would be nice to see a cast this great all manage to deliver. Mikkelson has become a well-respected actor for a reason, so the audience can only hope to see a film that properly utilizes his talents. All will be found out soon enough, but with early word of mouth around Doctor Strange being pretty good, it would be nice to know that the villain presence is a part of that praise.