[This article includes details on Marvel’s Ant-Man that may be considered SPOILERS.]
Marvel has always found interesting ways of connecting its various films. Ant-Man, for example, served as an introduction to Paul Rudd’s micro-sized superhero, but it also included many references to and even appearances from other key elements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For instance, one action-heavy sequence featured Ant-Man battling Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, a mainstay of the Captain America franchise and one of the newest Avengers.
But possibly the most intriguing connection came during the film’s climax, when Scott Lang briefly ventured into the Quantum Realm. Described as the bizarre dimension beings travel to when they become too small, the Quantum Realm may be our first real look into the mind-bending visuals of next year’s Doctor Strange. Marvel producer Kevin Feige previously emphasized the importance of the Quantum Realm going forward, saying “The whole notion of the quantum realm and the whole notion of going to places that are so out there, they are almost mind-bendingly hard to fathom. It all plays into Phase Three.”
Benedict Cumberbatch is currently set to play Dr. Stephen Strange for the mystical epic to be directed by Sinister‘s Scott Derrickson. Also featured in the film will be Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo, a former student of The Ancient One who holds a deep grudge against Strange. With Derrickson’s filmography almost exclusively involving horror films, his participation in Doctor Strange hints that the film may contain some of the darker elements.
Adding further evidence to the notion that horror elements will be present in Doctor Strange, Feige was on hand at the Disney Africa presentation to discuss the upcoming movie. According to a report from HTXT.Africa, “the film will have a firm footing in the shadowy world of the occult and supernatural,” suggesting there will indeed be several darker elements for the Sorcerer Supreme to combat against.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean the look of Doctor Strange will be as dark and grim as some of Derrickson’s previous efforts. In an interview with Screen Daily (via CBM), cinematographer Ben Davis – who previously worked on both Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron – confirmed he will be working on Doctor Strange, and offered up some details on the look of the film.
Davis first stated that Doctor Strange “has a very psychedelic grounding,” before going on to add that “it’s not your typical Marvel action movie.” In fact, it’s so different that Davis went onto call it the “Fantasia” of the MCU:
“Most of the work within it is about other dimensions. And I described it, I think, when I was talking to Marvel as Marvel’s Fantasia, in a way, because it’s so sort of out there and different to everything else that they’ve done.”
Fantasia was largely different from anything Disney had done before, made up of eight separate animated segments that allowed the filmmakers to experiment with various types of tones and styles. According to Davis, Doctor Strange will be much the same for Marvel, in that it will afford them the chance to try something different and more bizarre than what the studio is used to. And while the fantastical visuals of Fantasia may also be used as reference for Doctor Strange, Davis cited abstract artist M.C. Escher as one of its biggest influences:
“There’s a lot of previsualisation, and there’s a lot of work which is very hard – you look at it and you see the imagery that they’ve created for it and you think, ‘well how the hell do we shoot that!?’ because it’s all sort of Escher stuff.”
In the growing sphere of superhero movies, it will be important for each one to distinguish itself from the crowd. It seems that will be no trouble for Doctor Strange, as it sounds as though a unique use of horror and design elements will help differentiate it from other large-scale superhero flicks. Whether that makes for an effective Doctor Strange film that is able to blend character development with mysticism and mystery remains to be seen, but it may at least be dazzling to look at.
Ant-Man is now playing in theaters; Captain America: Civil War opens May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange on November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on May 5, 2017; Spider-Man reboot on July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok on November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 on May 4, 2018; Black Panther on July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel on November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 on May 3, 2019; and Inhumans on July 12, 2019.