The Marvel Cinematic Universe has thus far provided us with heroes of all kinds, everything from alien gods to determined humans aided by technology or scientific experimentation. While many of the Avengers’ powers bend our concept of reality, the MCU debut of Doctor Strange later this year will take that to another levitation-cloaked-level. Cinematographer Ben Davis has even dubbed the upcoming Marvel film the “Fantasia of the MCU.”
Director Scott Derrickson (Sinister) will be sticking to the title character’s traditional comic book origin story with Doctor Strange: after a debilitating car accident, former surgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) turns his brilliant mind to the mystical arts, studying with the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) in order to become the Sorcerer Supreme. His eventual skills include levitation, manipulating light to use as both a weapon and a shield, and opening portals in space and time. His powerful amulet, the Eye of Agamotto, may even contain another of the catastrophically dangerous Infinity Stones.
Bringing the startling visuals of Strange’s sorcery to the big screen is a monumental task. This includes the doctor’s home base, the Sanctum Sanctorum, where he also keeps magical artifacts safe. We’ve already seen a hint of that imagery, including the Sanctorum’s distinctive window, featured in the first official poster for Doctor Strange (see below).
Bringing this new world to the big screen could be helped exponentially by 3D technology. In an interview with Collider, Marvel chief and Doctor Strange producer Kevin Feige revealed that an early look at the VFX in New York has been “pretty exciting.”
“It was pretty cool in terms of how 3D can serve that story. You know, sometimes 3D is a tool, like it is in [Captain America: Civil War], a tool of – another toy in the sandbox of how the Russos (Joe and Anthony) can present this movie, then there are times like what Disney is putting out with The Jungle Book – it’s certainly gonna be the case with Doctor Strange– that it serves the storytelling, that it advances the storytelling. And hopefully it helps bend people’s minds even more than with just the flat screen.”
The use of 3D can often seem gimmicky in films, drawing attention to itself with sudden weapon stabs out at the audience or other shock tactics that can draw out laughter even in scenes meant to be intense. When it creates an immersive environment, however, it can be very effective. Since Doctor Strange will be tackling such ethereal powers and visiting alternate dimensions, using 3D to surround — and possibly overwhelm — the viewer with a unique array of visuals could create a pretty powerful experience.
Creating the right mood for Doctor Strange is important to keeping this sorcerer’s tale from veering from coolness into silliness. It’s hard to believe anything could be tougher than making a believable gun-toting raccoon, but an amulet-wearing, light-bending magician has its own challenges. When done right, though, like the poster image above, even a small detail like a 3D-enhanced flourish of that dramatic red cloak could totally sell the character to audiences more used to the “typical” action superhero.
Captain America: Civil War opens in U.S. theaters on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018;Ant-Man and the Wasp– July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans– July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.