Doctor Strange truly acted as a game-changing movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From the technology of Tony Stark or Hank Pym to the cosmic elements introduced via Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy, the MCU felt like it was firmly rooted in science-fiction.
Doctor Strange proved that both science-fiction and fantasy could exist within the MCU through the movie's deep dive into the mystic arts and the Multiverse.
Prior to the film's release, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige teased that Doctor Strange's origin story and character journey was the MCU's most compelling since Tony Stark's in the original Iron Man.
The movie managed to deliver on Feige's hype, largely because of Benedict Cumberbatch's nuanced take on Doctor Strange, who alongside others Masters of the Mystic Arts, was given a new and unique niche in the ever-growing superhero universe.
As Wong explained to Doctor Strange, "While heroes like the Avengers protect the world from physical dangers, we sorcerers safeguard it against more mystical threats."
Despite a relatively late introduction into the MCU, this niche allowed Doctor Strange to play a brief but significant part in Thor: Ragnarok, and later a major and vital role in Avengers: Infinity War.
Behind-the-scenes photos provide insight into how Cumberbatch and countless others brought the successful Doctor Strange movie to life.
What is visually stunning on the screen can look completely different before visual effects (VFX) are added in. While the movie certainly relied on its fair share of VFX and green screen, it also required practical set designs and effects, intricate makeup, and above all stellar acting.
Get your sling ring ready because it's time to explore the 25 Behind-The-Scenes Photos That Completely Change Doctor Strange.
25 Mystic Arts Without VFX
VFX makes the mystic arts and the multiverse visually breathtaking to behold in the finished product of Doctor Strange.
Long before technology works its magic, though, it's down to the actors to sell their scenes, later allowing those visual effects to appear as if they were there all along.
This photo captures that precise challenge as Benedict Cumberbatch almost looks comical with the way his hands are positioned along with the rest of his body language. It seems funny here, but it is exactly what's needed to make the VFX look natural.
Without Cumberbatch pulling that off first, not even the most cutting-edge technology can make the mystic arts look real.
24 Eye Makeup
Despite being played by the brilliant Mads Mikkelsen, Kaecilius isn't one of the MCU's more memorable villains, especially considering some of Phase 3's well-received antagonists like the Vulture, Killmonger, and Thanos.
Regardless of fans' feelings toward Kaecilius, no one can deny the impressive nature of his intricate eye makeup.
This picture offers a look at the incredible detail within the makeup worn not only by Mikkelsen, but also by those playing Kaelicius' zealots.
The picture also shows how different the dynamics between these actors was in contrast to their characters. As the cameras rolled, they were single-minded extremists obsessed with the salvation offered by Dormammu and the Dark Dimension.
Here, the actors are all are smiles, amused by and eager to showcase their over-the-top makeup.
23 When The Mirror Dimension Is Green Screen
The Mirror Dimension is visually stunning to witness in Doctor Strange, but in moments such as this, it was just green screen for the actors. Green screen doesn't do all of the work, though.
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, and the other actors involved with the Mirror Dimension scenes needed to make the space feel real.
The camera angles and different types of shots that were used are also equally important in this context.
This photo shows a moment where all of these elements are working together to create a scene that will eventually become visually breathtaking to behold.
22 Filming Doctor Strange's Astral Form
One of the movie's most dramatic scenes comes when Rachel McAdams' character Christine Palmer operates on Stephen Strange's fatally wounded body.
As she begins to operate, Strange's astral form hovers over his physical body, assisting Christine with the procedure to save his life -- at least until he's forced to fight with the astral form of one of Kaecilius' zealots.
This photo partly reveals how the complicated scene was filmed. Benedict Cumberbatch was suspended in the air and delivered the lines while another individual -- costumed identically to Cumberbatch - -took on the role of Strange's physical body.
The astral form was intended to look like the physical body, while their movements and appearance would seem ghostly. Prior to VFX, those ghostly features were likely made more natural by suspending Cumberbatch and to an extent constricting his movements.
21 The Ancient One's Secret
Just as Kaecilius was about to strike down Doctor Strange during their fight within the Mirror Dimension, the Ancient One arrived to save the day. She stopped Kaecilius from taking Strange's life, during which Mordo realized that she does draw power from the Dark Dimension.
The Ancient One's arrival is epic, an awesome display of power made more surprising by the reveal that she's not as benevolent as she led others to believe, a truth that is particularly devastating to Mordo.
The powerful music along with the breathtaking visuals of the Mirror Dimension help create the scene's epic feel.
Before VFX or the music is added, this behind-the-scenes photo shows how Tilda Swinton has to own the scene with her acting alone.
She nails it, communicating a rich intensity as she wields her power to save Strange's life, an intensity that's also mixed with desperation as she tries to make one last attempt to dissuade Kaecilius from following through with his dangerous schemes.
20 Intense Running
Long before VFX is added to any action scenes, actors have to provide energy that bring the scenes to life.
This picture captures Benedict Cumberbatch and Chiwetel Ejiofor doing exactly that, as they are seen sprinting down the street with intense energy.
Part of what makes this so impressive is that Cumberbatch and Ejiofor are weighed down by heavy, ornate costumes. This is particularly evident with Cumberbatch, the weight of the Cloak of Levitation, and the layers underneath visible, along with the Eye of Agamotto repeatedly bobbing against his chest.
They likely had to film these action sequence numerous times, each time bringing the same energy and intensity while wearing their intricate costumes.
19 SLR Camera Rig
This photo may not look like anything special at a first glance, but it's actually the key to many of the movie's spectacular visual feats.
Pictured here is a main rig hooked up to 130 single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras. This allows each SLR camera to simultaneously take high-resolution shots. Such technology creates the ability to capture a rich variety of shots at the same time.
For example, when filming a single scene with Benedict Cumberbatch playing Doctor Strange, these cameras would come away with shots of him at every possible angle.
Through such ample material, the movie was able to execute mind-bending, visually trippy scenes like when the Ancient One first showed Strange the many dimensions of the Multiverse.
18 Bringing Kathmandu, Nepal To Life
From the moment Stephen Strange sets foot in Kathmandu, Nepal on his quest to find Kamar-Taj, the city immediately feels like an immersive, bustling urban environment that takes on a life of its own.
That makes the backdrop of this picture jarring to see at first as the city and its denizens that feel so natural are on pause as they wait for the cameras to roll.
This photo is also interesting to look at in how it offers a glimpse at Scott Derrickson's directing style and his approach to directing Benedict Cumberbatch's acting in this scene.
17 Thor And Doctor Strange
While Doctor Strange was mostly dedicated to telling its own story, it certainly hinted at a few aspects of upcoming MCU installments, including a post-credits scene teasing the Sorcerer Supreme's role in Thor: Ragnarok.
Audiences would see the scene again in Ragnarok with Strange meeting Thor, questioning the God of Thunder about Loki's return to Earth, and helping them locate Odin so Loki would promptly leave Earth.
In both the post-credits scene of his origin movie and in Ragnarok, Strange remains quite serious.
That makes it amusing to see a picture with Cumberbatch smiling while filming with Chris Hemsworth, an attitude quite different than the one expressed in Thor's presence.
16 Physical Therapy
After his accident and before discovering the mystic arts, Stephen Strange began physical therapy in an attempt to heal his hands.
It's fitting that his scenes harnessing the mystic arts feature green screens that would later show the fantastical Multiverse, while his scenes spent in physical therapy are completely grounded in a practical set design.
Being in a bland physical space that will never be anything more than it is -- as opposed to the endless possibilities posed by a green screen -- help create the sense of futility that Strange feels in this scene.
15 Floating Inside The Sanctum Sanctorum
While technology created many of the movie's visual wonders, technology was not solely relied on to create the majestic Sanctum Sanctorum.
It was created as a practical set design, with each and every detail beautifully crafted.
The iconic window of the Sanctum Sanctorum alone took four months to complete. The design paid off beyond Doctor Strange, though, as it was also used in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War.
A practical set design approach adds a purposeful sense of realism, something which helps ground the scene pictured here, especially as Benedict Cumberbatch is suspended in the air.
14 Sparring In The Courtyard
The scene in which Doctor Strange and Mordo spar in the courtyard is an important one, not so much because of the training itself, but because of how it builds character development.
Strange and Mordo further develop a sense of camaraderie. Mordo justifies his blind faith in the Ancient One while Strange questions it. Their underlying motivations and shared dynamic prove integral to the decisions made by their characters at the end of the movie.
In order to create this scene, Benedict Cumberbatch and Chiwetel Ejiofor had to practice the nuances of the sparring while delivering their characters' crucial dialogue.
Part of the courtyard set was practically designed, while the other parts were added in later using green screen.
13 The Ancient One's Yellow Cloak
The opening scene of Doctor Strange cemented the Ancient One as an enigmatic and formidable character, the only one able to stand in the way of Kaecilius and his zealots.
The yellow costume played a key role in visually communicating these traits to the audience.
The hood concealing her face helps provide the air of mystery, while the bright yellow imparts a stark contrast to the darker yellow worn by Kaecilius and the maroon worn by his zealots.
These might seem like small details, but they play a crucial role in establishing the idea that the Ancient One fights for what's right while Kaecilius and his followers fight for darker, selfish reasons. This makes the later twist about the Ancient One's secrets to be even more surprising.
The intricacies of the costume are perfected in this photo so it can achieve its intended effect.
12 Portal In A Mop Closet
After Christine heroically saved Doctor Strange's life, he had to leave in order to stop Kaecilius and his zealots from fulfilling their schemes involving Dormammu and the Dark Dimension.
Strange travels through the portal that he opened up in the hospital's mop closet.
The mop closet space was all there, while green screen showed the Sanctum Sanctorum on the other side of the portal. The photo also shows what the portals looked like onset, appearing more similar to the actual thing than fans might expect.
Having that probably helped create a realistic sense of space and physicality to walk through as opposed to jumping through nothingness that would be digitally added in later on.
11 Doctor Strange With Mordo's Stunt Double
Certain scenes require actors and stunt doubles to work together, not just all actors or all stunt doubles to be filming at the same time.
That is the case in this scene, as Benedict Cumberbatch is playing his character Doctor Strange while Chiwetel Ejiofor's stunt double is playing Mordo.
This is likely because the scene in question required stunt work for Ejiofor while it did not for Cumberbatch.
Both on the cement street, the picture also shows that whether you're a highly paid and famous actor like Cumberbatch or a stunt double, certain scenes are physically uncomfortable or demanding for everyone involved.
10 Director And Leading Actor On The Same Page
Benedict Cumberbatch spoke highly of director Scott Derrickson from the get-go, praising Derrickson's imagination and artistic vision.
Cumberbatch's belief in Derrickson and the director's belief in his leading actor shines through here as the two intimately discuss the movie while sitting on the physical set of the Sanctum Sanctorum.
Instead of the far too frequent dynamic of a star actor and director clashing over differing visions, this photo captures how Cumberbatch and Derrickson were truly a team working together to make Doctor Strange the best it could be.
They certainly succeeded, as the movie is one of the most unique and game-changing entries in the MCU.
9 Doctor Strange Reading Doctor Strange Comics
Benedict Cumberbatch went pretty meta here, fully costumed and styled as Doctor Strange while reading a Doctor Strange comic.
Beyond being meta, it shows how devoted Cumberbatch is to this role, immersing himself in the source material while waiting to film scenes for the movie adaptation.
Growing up, Cumberbatch admitted that he didn't read many comics, let alone Doctor Strange comics.
Instead of letting this intimidate or dissuade him from tackling the role, he dedicated himself to intimately understanding the character and taking advantage of down moments like this on set by avidly reading the comics.
8 Jump Around
Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Mads Mikkelsen taking an air-bound selfie? While it might appear that way, this is actually a perfectly timed shot of filming the scene where Kaecilius and his zealots chase Doctor Strange and Mordo through the Mirror Dimension.
The way they sail through the constantly moving pieces of the Mirror Dimension looks fairly seamless in the movie, but it's not quite as glamorous behind-the-scenes.
In fact, it requires these actors to jump up in the air, looking just as ridiculous as they do here.
It's certainly movie magic to take something that looks this awkward and make it appear incredibly cool onscreen.
7 Perfect Lighting
Lighting is a hugely important factor when filming, yet is often taken for granted or overlooked by audiences.
Without the perfect lighting, even the most brilliantly acted scene taking place on a beautifully designed set can end up looking all wrong.
This photo captures the necessity of capturing that perfect lighting, as Benedict Cumberbatch's positioning next to the Sanctum Sanctorum's window, his body language, and the camera angle are all working to make the intended lighting a reality.
In this scene and all others, Doctor Strange certainly nailed all the lighting, as evidenced by the movie's countless visual wonders.
6 Mirror Dimension Chase
One of the movie's most mind-bending sequences occurs when Doctor Strange and Mordo race through the streets, which appear otherworldly because of the Mirror Dimension.
This behind-the-scenes photo provides a glimpse of how the sequence was filmed.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Chiwetel Ejiofor actually sprinted through the streets. Green screen was placed over certain parts of their surroundings in order to create the Mirror Dimension.
It is fascinating to see everyday streets and mailboxes next to green screen, but that's exactly what's needed to take an everyday setting and transform it into the M.C. Escher-esque nature of the Mirror Dimension.
5 Owning Kaecilius
Kaecilius and his zealots could've ended up as cartoonish villains wearing over-the-top eye makeup. Mads Mikkelsen and the talented men and women playing his character's followers made sure they'd be far more than that.
As proven by this behind-the-scenes photo, Mikkelsen and those playing the zealots made sure that their characters evoked a palpable sense of intimidation, no matter how out of place they appeared in a setting like this ordinary street.
Perhaps fans will see Mikkelsen reprising the role of Kaecilius in a future MCU movie.
After all, Loki and Red Skull returned despite undergoing ignominious defeat.
4 Leaving The Physical Form
This photo captures the filming of the scene in the hospital when Doctor Strange's astral form leaps out of his physical body while Christine tries to save his life.
Filming for the scene began with Benedict Cumberbatch in a horizontal position.
The supports attached to Cumberbatch then yanked his body into a vertical position. This was an authentic way of filming how Strange's astral form could quickly leap out of his physical form lying on a hospital stretcher.
VFX was later added in to make Cumberbatch's movements take on the ghostly elements of Strange's astral body.
3 Dressing For Success
Next time you think that you look out of place or aren't appropriately dressed for the occasion, remember that at least you don't appear as out of place as Doctor Strange does in this picture.
Wearing the Cloak of Levitation and the Eye of Agamatto, he sticks out like a sore thumb next to everyday folk while walking in front of a bank.
Obviously it's just a photo taken at a convenient time onset, but taken out of context, it is amusing to behold.
It does make one reconsider why no one questions Doctor Strange's garb in the movie, including when he rushes into an everyday hospital wearing this same fantastical getup.
2 Mount Everest
The Ancient One is one of those teachers with a sink or swim philosophy. When Doctor Strange struggled to open a portal via his sling ring, the Ancient One stranded him on Mount Everest where he would only survive if he successfully opened a portal to escape the freezing cold.
Of course, the pivotal scene was not filmed on the actual Mount Everest, but neither was it all just a digital creation.
This photo showcases the practical set design for the Mount Everest scene.
While thankfully not as dangerous as being stranded on the actual Mount Everest, the physicality of the set probably helped in acting Strange's desperation leading to him finally surrendering to his powers, allowing him to finally create a portal on his own.
1 Doctor Strange And Mordo Embrace
Despite Doctor Strange and Mordo developing a strong sense of camaraderie throughout the story, the filmovies ends with the characters on opposite sides.
Doctor Strange's unorthodox approach defeated Kaecilius and his zealots and their apocalyptic schemes involving Dormammu and the Dark Dimension.
Mordo refused to follow Strange and fight alongside him any further, feeling that Strange's violation of natural law was fundamentally wrong and the bill for his transgression would come due. Mordo went off on his own, with a post-credits scene revealing that he'd become a full-on villain who will surely challenge Strange.
The dynamics are completely different between Benedict Cumberbatch and Chiwetel Ejiofor in real life.
The two actors embrace one another in this photo, demonstrating a real-life camaraderie that formed between them after working so closely together.
What's your favorite behind-the-scenes photo from Doctor Strange? Let us know in the comments!