It's almost hard to remember now, but there was a time when fans were concerned that the Norse gods of Thor would feel misplaced in the scientifically-themed worlds of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. Way back in 2011, Marvel Studios agreed with them - or at least thought that a plot about magical gods would cost them the support of certain religious crowds. Diverging a bit from his comic book iteration, Thor's powers were described as a result of an advanced alien science. He wasn't, strictly speaking, a god. His powers only seemed magical to the primitive cultures of humankind.
What a difference five years have made. Now we have talking trees, cosmic gem powered androids and witches, as well as a literal Sorcerer Supreme hitting the theaters this fall. But what exactly is the deal with Doctor Strange? His trippy, Inception-esque trailers have hinted that at least some of his power will be used to explore alternate dimensions, adding a whole new level to the MCU. But is it actually magic?
GamesRadar asked this very question of Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson (Sinister) at Comic-Con, in an interview that was only recently posted. For fans of the weird and wild nature of comics, his answer was quite heartening:
"Magic is magic in this movie. It's not something that's explained away scientifically. It's not something that's easy to define. As magic should be. Magic should be mysterious. There's mystery to magic and there's mystery to the tone of the movie. Mystery is a good thing."
Derrickson also went a bit into why he thinks that Benedict Cumberbatch is perfect for the role of Stephen Strange:
"I think it's the ability to play a character deeply flawed. In this case, a character who starts off at the height of egocentricity, and is brought down, and falls from grace very hard very fast, very early in the film. And you get to watch his climb out of that, and ultimately his climb out of his own ego. And that's really what the movie's about. Even though there's all these big psychedelic images in the film, it is in the end, a movie about one man overcoming himself."
Derrickson also said that he never felt pressured to integrate his film into the larger MCU, but that there are "some touches" to let you know it exists in within that universe.
It's been a busy year for comic book movies. With Suicide Squad already in theaters, Doctor Strange represents the next and final to hit this year. Let's hope it closes things out on a psychedelic bang!
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018;Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2– May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.