close menu
17 Things We Learned on Our Marvel’s DOCTOR STRANGE Set Visit

17 Things We Learned on Our Marvel’s DOCTOR STRANGE Set Visit

Something strange is coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe this November. The House of Ideas’ resident supernatural spellslinger Stephen Strange gets his own feature film adaptation in Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular Sorcerer Supreme. The film isn’t just introducing a new character to the sprawling Marvel mythos, but a new dimension (or two…or three…or several hundred) in the form of magic and the supernatural. The latest MCU outing tells the story of Stephen Strange, an arrogant but highly talented surgeon who seeks deeply nontraditional methods of healing after a car accident destroys his hands and his livelihood. Journeying to Tibet, Strange finds himself under the tutelage of the Ancient One, a powerful sorceress tasked with keeping the Earth safe from all manner of magical threats and training a new generation of magic-users. However, once at the Ancient One’s temple, Strange is caught up in a struggle for the fate of our world as we know it. You know, super casual wizard stuff.

Back in January, Nerdist was invited to the film’s set at Longcross Studios, located just outside of London in Surrey England. It was a grey, chilly day, which felt all the more fitting given that Longcross used to be a tank factory and that we were visiting the film’s Kamar-Taj: the mystical mountainside temple where the Ancient One and her disciples study the magical arts. While on set, we were treated to an in-depth tour of the film’s production office, which contained scores of concept art, props like the Eye of Agamotto, and 3D models of the film’s elaborate sets. We also hit the set itself, where director Scott Derrickson led actors Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, and Chiwetel Ejiofor through a scene near the beginning of Strange’s journey from self-centered surgeon to Sorcerer Supreme.

Today, we’re running the firs part of our set visit report, featuring choice insights, juicy details, and behind-the-scenes information from stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Benedict Wong, director Scott Derrickson, and producer/Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. The second part of our set visit will run on Wednesday, but you can whet your appetite in the meantime with a gallery of brand new set photos and character posters in our gallery below. So, true believers, read on and see what awaits you in Kamar-Taj!

Doctor Strange could be the next Iron Man

Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE L to R: Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Stephen Strange) and Director Scott Derrickson on set. Photo Credit: Jay Maidment ©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

No, I don’t mean that Stephen Strange is going to become a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist with a heart condition; rather, according to Feige, Doctor Strange is the cinematic journey that has him at his most excited since 2008’s Iron Man.

“His origin has always been, like Tony Stark’s, relatively stable, relatively consistent, and we’re certainly pulling from that. The arrogant New York neurosurgeon who’s a bit of an ass, who’s extremely arrogant, and who has a horrible accident, mangles his hands—his tools—and who loses his identity and loses himself, and has a nice downward spiral, before finding his way in a last-ditch effort in something he doesn’t really believe in to Nepal, to the people who he will encounter and who will teach him and open his eyes to a whole other reality,” Feige explained. “So we’re certainly doing that origin. I think it’s one of the coolest origins in our comics. It’s certainly, from a cinematic point of view, the most sort of interesting singular character journey, maybe since Iron Man 1, that we’ve plucked from the books.”

Don’t worry—it’s really about magic

Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE L to R: The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) Photo Credit: Film Frame ©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

One of my biggest disappointments with the Marvel Cinematic Universe came in 2011’s Thor. The film introduced us to Marvel’s God of Thunder and the dynamic denizens of Asgard, but made one seriously baffling decision: they explained Asgardian abilities and civilization as the results of highly advanced technology, rather than leaning into the Norse-tinged mythology of it. After all, they’re freakin’ gods, so why would you need to explain it all away as them having access to super awesome tech?

Thankfully, when it comes to the magic of Doctor Strange, it doesn’t seem like Marvel will be pulling any punches.

“Preserving the idea of magic was really important to me,” said director Derrickson. “We didn’t try to explain it away or root it all in something scientific that, by definition, is not magic to me. There’s also the burden of popular magic movies: the Harry Potter series, the Lord of the Rings, which appropriate magic in a very familiar, traditional way. And the comics had a few ideas in them that were, to this day, still very original. Those ideas we’re using and the rest of it was also was very traditional in the use of spells and even some of the imagery.”

He continued, “For me, the starting point was: What kind of things have we not seen in cinema? [It] was almost working backwards. What kind of imagery, what kind of action could be created in cinema that we haven’t seen?And I started from that place and looked for a way to tie that in to magic. And some of those ideas didn’t tie in well and some of those ideas tied in surprisingly well. The ones that tied in really well, those became the major set pieces for the movie.”

Yet, cracking the nut of defining science and magic within the film proved a difficult task, according to Kevin Feige:

“It’s very hard because you don’t want to rule yourself out into it being mundane, or rule yourself into not being fantastical or magical,” Feige explained. “And certainly we’re not doing that. And you’ve heard me talk about the quantum realm in Ant-Man, which was certainly designed for that movie and for that story to take the notion of somebody who has the ability to shrink to another level we’ve never seen before. But as we were doing that, [we’re] studying it and talking to the science advisors, who are always more than willing to spend an afternoon with us and talk about these amazing things. The quantum realm is another dimension. It tapped into what we had been working on with this movie as well, so that really became the notion that we’re scratching the surface of [with] the quantum realm, and then we just do a deep dive in this.”

There was a more science-based prologue that was cut

Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE L to R: Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) Photo Credit: Jay Maidment ©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

While everything we’ve seen so far from Doctor Strange seems distinctly otherworldly, Kevin Feige was quick to explain that once magic and science reach a certain point, they approach something like parity. To some, it is a scientific phenomenon. To others, it is a magical occurrence. And in the case of Doctor Strange, the idea of parallel dimensions lies at the center of this magic vs. science debate. It was something that would have been made a tad more explicit in a prologue to the film, which Feige revealed had been cut during the production process.

“For a long time there was a prologue in this movie that we’re not doing—maybe we’ll do in part two, so maybe I shouldn’t mention it—but it took place in CERN,” Feige told us. “If you think about CERN, it comes up a lot in [sci-fi stories] because it’s so mind-blowing what’s actually being done there. And we’ve looked at that a lot because of the discussions about parallel dimensions and multiple-dimensions. And all of that has gone into building the foundation for our fictional reality within the Strange universe. And then you go back and look at the comics and look at the journey the Ancient One takes Strange on in the comics, and it’s all the same thing. They didn’t know about parallel dimensions back then. They were making it up or tapping into philosophies for it, and now I think it’s more relevant and, potentially, theoretically, more realistic than ever. Realistic being a relative term here.”

The Cloak of Levitation was a difficult garment to master


One of the most iconic items in Doctor Strange’s decidedly distinct wardrobe is his gigantic, red cape, which is a powerful magical artifact known as the Cloak of Levitation. In the comics, Strange receives it was a reward from the Ancient One after proving himself worthy in battle against Dormammu, the demonic ruler of the Dark Dimension. This is no simple task, even for a Sorcerer Supreme. As it turns out, the Cloak proved a challenge for star Benedict Cumberbatch to wear as well. Before even getting his hands on the Cloak, Cumberbatch had to work his way through the many different ranks and costumes that come with studying at the Kamar-Taj.

“This is novice, this is at the very beginning,” said Cumberbatch, gesturing to his frostbitten, snow-tinged attire. “You’ve got the green slacks and your little loose top. I go through all the ranks. I think it’s fair to say that, yeah, I’m playing Doctor Strange, I get there. It’s one of the things that attracted me to the role is the fact that it’s a really wide origin story. This is part of it, but of course there’s the whole chapter before where he’s the neurosurgeon who has the accident. It’s fantastic. It gives me an excuse as an actor to be learning with my character, which is something you can do authentically. I’m not a martial arts expert, I’m certainly no sorcerer. So all these things, the movement of the body, the physicality, the changes he goes through mentally and physically; obviously we’re not shooting in sequence, but it’s a great part. It’s a great part for the character that made me want to play him in the first place.”

Cumberbatch continued, “Yeah, this is him. First day of school kind of outfit. It seems to get heavier and heavier, and the Cloak of Levitation, which is a dear friend, but sometimes at certain takes it becomes the Cloak of Limitations, because I can trip on it or I’ll be like, ‘Oh God, was my entire body moving like this?’ But, you know, what superhero or what actor playing a superhero doesn’t complain about the costume? It’s a blast. It’s a real blast. [Alexandra Byrne], our costume designer, she’s just, she’s such a fucking genius, I mean, she’s up there.”

Doctor Strange was inspired by martial arts films

Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) Photo Credit: Jay Maidment ©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

While Marvel movies have a proud tradition of featuring bone-crunching fisticuffs and intense hand-to-hand combat, Doctor Strange looks as though it might give us another taste of the martial arts madness we’ve experienced in Netflix series like Daredevil and classic martial arts movies.

“There’s definitely a martial arts influence on the movie,” said Derrickson, “because that is the action that I like for starters.”

The director explained that, more so than its MCU counterparts, a supernatural-centric film like Doctor Strange lends itself well to the martial arts genre. Moreover, Derrickson wanted to avoid another superpowered shoot-’em-up like we’ve seen in films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and also wanted to prevent the film’s fight scenes from feeling like two people firing bolts of light at one another.

“That is a whole subgenre within martial arts cinema, the supernatural martial arts movie, particularly within Asian cinema,” Derrickson explained. ” I felt like when it came to fighting in the movie that just made sense, to certainly to go in that direction and stay away from gunfire and things like that.”

They didn’t want the magic to look like Star Wars Force lightning

Just like Derrickson wanted to avoid having another bullet-filled beat-’em-up of a superhero story, he wanted to find a unique, visually striking way to communicate the power of magic.

“[We wanted] to avoid having fighting be the casting of bolts of light,” Derrickson said. “We’ve been drawing on the Emperor in Star Wars for over 30 years, you know, and so we gotta start doing this some other way.”

For Derrickson, it was essential to balance the dynamic on-screen action with the surreal environments that populate Strange’s world.

“That fighting is again, always within a context of something I think more fantastical and more surreal and more mind-trippy than just the supernatural action of combat,” he said. “It’s always supernatural action, combat, fighting within a larger surreal canvass. That was the thing I always wanted to preserve so that we’re never just watching fighting.”

Three very specific eras of comics influenced the film


“I love the comics so much and I grew up reading Marvel Comics,” Derrickson said. “And Doctor Strange is my favorite comic book character, probably, I think, [and] honestly the only comic book I would feel personally suited to work on. My longstanding love for Doctor Strange comes from, first of all, the fantastical visual imagery of all the comics, particularly the early Ditko stuff, Into Shamballa, The Oath. A lot of the images that I have picked are from those three sources. And then individual issues.”

Kevin Feige seconded Derrickson’s sentiments, speaking with us at length about the comic book inspirations for the feature film:

“You know The Oath, I think, tonally, was a great… updating of his character,” said Feige. “And I think we would’ve probably leaned in that direction anyway, because that sort of fits what we like to do in our films and certainly that’s what Benedict is bringing to it: a sense of humor to go along with the gravitas that this journey he goes on. I think those are many of our touch-points for the movie.”

But, visually speaking, Feige confirmed that to get that acid-tinged, far-out, deeply weird vibe, they had to look to the art of Steve Ditko:

“A lot of our interpretation of the multiverse and various dimensions came right out of all of the art of those early comics that Mr. Ditko did, and [challenged] our amazing visual effects vendors and visual effect supervisors, saying, ‘Let’s put this on the screen,’” Feige explained. “It’s really weird. You don’t want to turn away from that. You suddenly don’t want to make it sort of… turn it into a galactic cosmos… it needs to be strange. It needs to be weird. It needs to be absolutely inspired from those images. I think it might even be [Scott Derrickson’s] Twitter handle picture—a particular panel from the Ditko era that I think was turned into a blacklight poster that he remembered having. And that has been so much of the visual inspiration of the movie.”

Benedict Cumberbatch wasn’t much of a comics fan when he was younger

While Benedict Cumberbuch has been a part of TV shows and films with a profoundly nerdy fan base and source material, like Sherlock and Star Trek Into Darkness, he revealed that he wasn’t a comic book superfan himself, especially as a kid.

“I had a very sparse comic upbringing. Not because I was being whipped into reading Chekhov and Dickens, but I read Asterix on holidays when I was a kid, and Tin Tin was featured, I remember, for a few years,” Cumberbatch explained. “I was never geeky about anything. I never really got obsessed about one thing for long. I was a bit of a butterfly and a magpie. I’d shift disciplines, whether it was musical instruments or sports or whatever, and it’s the same with that. I really discovered him through hearing about this film and first meeting Scott and getting into it with Kevin and just opening up and saying, ‘Okay, this is, like all comics, very much of its era,’ and my first question was, ‘How do you make this film? Why do you make this film now?’ and the answers were so enticing that I was like, ‘I’m in.’”

Benedict Cumberbatch tried to ignore the Internet response to his casting

Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE L to R: Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) and Director Scott Derrickson on set. Photo Credit: Jay Maidment ©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

For several years before he was officially cast as Stephen Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch’s name had been floating around the internet as a bit of wishful fantasy casting. When the role became a real thing, though, Cumberbatch found himself a little intimidated to tackle the role.

“I think it goes two ways,” Cumberbatch said. “I think you can just throw yourself at the internet’s mercy and be part of social media and get into a room with people who wanna fuck you, kill you, maybe some both at the same time, or you just take a little step back and do your own thing in your own world. And then stuff leaks through and you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s interesting, that’s terrific, that’s libelous, but what can I do?’ You let things run in order to have some sanity and be able to do your work and not feel prejudged. I think of people have an opinion about it so I guess I’m saying is that I was probably too scared to look into the fans thriving on it.”

He continued, “But I’m flattered that people thought I was a good fit and maybe that resonated with the guys upstairs. It was hard at a point, because of the scheduling over this side of the Atlantic, so I’m just really—it’s a massive compliment to me, and then to empower me to work for that idea of the character… and then to accommodate my production of Hamlet and going into Sherlock season four, so it’s another reason to deliver every day, to fulfill that promise.”

Stephen Strange becomes a “kick-ass sorcerer”

While you probably could have guessed that Doctor Strange would feature the story of arrogant surgeon Stephen Strange losing everything and rebuilding himself as a sorcerer-in-training, Benedict Cumberbatch gave us a unique insight into the character’s arc in the origin story.

“He’s still quite cocky by the end of the film,” Cumberbatch said with a laugh. “No, I’d say the major curve for him is that he learns that it’s not all about him, that there’s a greater good. But what he thinks he was doing as a neurosurgeon, that was good because it benefitted people’s health was really just a [furthering] of his attempts to control death and control his own fate and other people’s, but that’s still driven by the ego. So he becomes more ‘ego-less,’ but he’s, I would say, more lonely maybe by the end of the film. I would say that he’s a kick-ass sorcerer by the end of the film, so that’s a major change. But I mean, really, the guy goes through everything you could possibly imagine. He’s a guide of his profession, he’s completely in control of his life, yet there are things missing which are quite obvious, but it’s a good life. And then he has this car crash, and becomes obsessed with healing himself and not realizing that really healing is something beyond just becoming what he used to be that he needs to foster something that he has within him. It’s all from the same drive.”

Wong is no longer a “manservant”

Doctor Strange_Character_1Sht_Buildings_BW_v2_lg

While he is certainly a beloved character from the Marvel Comics canon, Wong, Doctor Strange’s faithful companion, can be a bit problematic when looking back at the source material. Back in the 1960s, no one batted an eye at the character, a subservient servant of Doctor Strange who operated like the magical Alfred to the Sorcerer Supreme’s Batman. Nowadays, though, Wong’s portrayal seems outmoded, outdated, and out of touch with the modern world. In this modern interpretation of Doctor Strange, though, Wong is no longer a stereotypical lackey, serving at the beck and call of some white dude who is handsome at magic. Rather, Wong is now a fellow warrior at the Kamar-Taj, and someone who will help Strange along his path to heroism as an equal rather than an employee.

“Benedict Wong is a very different incarnation of that character,” Feige explained. “He’s an amazing actor who has done an amazing job bringing this role to life. He is not the assistant manservant. He was loyal in the books, and certainly fulfilled a purpose which I think could be one of the things you’re describing: a stereotype going back to any number of white hero/Asian driver, servant. That is not his role in this movie at all. Everyone in this movie knows more than Strange. [For 90 percent of the movie,] everyone is more talented when it comes to the magical abilities and the mastery of the mystic arts than Strange is, and Wong is a fellow warrior who has been a master in his own right. He doesn’t have a lot of time to worry about Strange.”

Benedict Wong was also eager to leave titles like “manservant” and “sidekick” in the comic books.

“Wong is, in our world, now a master at Kamar-Taj, training the fellow disciples and sorcerers, and [he’s a] protector of the Sanctum relics and these ancient ritual books, and it’s where we’ll see Wong and Doctor Strange come together and become, really, allies to fight against these extra-dimensional forces,” Wong explained.

That being said, Wong and Strange will definitely be inextricably tied together over the course of the film.

“It feels like Wong at the time is of a higher ranking, and then obviously with Strange discovers that he has these powers,” Wong told us. “It’s really hard to sort of circumnavigate for me. Things are gonna happen in the film where, as I said before, that I feel is a sense of how these two… they’re quite an odd couple, really. They’re quite an oddball couple, and it’s how they become allies together. I think that’s what we’re sort of converging, and then we’ll just see how it evolves and how they explore it in the next one.”

So that’s why the Ancient One is a white lady

Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE L to R: The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) Photo Credit: Jay Maidment ©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Tilda Swinton is a national treasure. In fact, I would go so far as to say that she is an international treasure. However, her casting as the Ancient One, a character that appears as an Asian man in the comics, raised an understandable amount of eyebrows and ire online.

When asked about the casting and how Marvel was planning on updating some of the less politically correct aspects of the original story, Kevin Feige offered this explanation:

“This is very much the Marvel version of this story. These sorcerers aren’t inspired by any actual sect or any actual religion. They’re from the Marvel bullpen, and we’re being respectful of that and we’re using that fictional mythology to bring to life our fictional world.

But being authentic in the way you’ll see today on the sets that Charles Wood has designed for us, being authentic in filming, as we did for the first week on production on this in Nepal and in Kathmandu. It was important to us to make it feel like these were real locations and real things. These [costumes] are designed to evoke the superhero comic elements, with some touches of other various cultures. But we’re really trying to be true to the fictional mythology that was created in the past.

When you get into individual characters certainly there’s been things that have been updated, most obviously Tilda Swinton taking on the role of the Ancient One. We talked about the Ancient One being a title that has been held probably for hundreds and hundreds of years by individuals, but there’ve been various ones. The one we meet in this movie happens to be a female of Celtic descent. Most people, even those who surround her, have forgotten exactly where she came from because she’s been around, I think we state in the movie, hundreds and hundreds of years—they’re not sure exactly how long. So that was one way of doing a new interpretation of that character.”

They wanted a more grounded villain

Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE Director Scott Derrickson on set. Photo Credit: Jay Maidment ©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Just because you have ties to the occult and the supernatural doesn’t mean you can’t be grounded, right? That’s certainly what Marvel is banking on with their decision to cast Hannibal star Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius. A minor character who served as a minion of Baron Mordo in the comics, Kaecilius will now be taking center stage in the forthcoming film. Given his comic book history and Derrickson’s comments, it seems more than a little likely that Kaecilius could be an agent of Dormammu, the demonic lord of the Dark Dimension and one of Strange’s greatest foes.

“What we wanted was a character that was rooted in the real,” Derrickson said of Kaecilius. “This is certainly what I was pitching from the beginning, an antagonist who was rooted in the real world, so that there could be an intimate relatability between Strange and his adversary. But [one] who was empowered by something else. By something otherworldly. And connected to something else otherworldly. Which comes straight from the comics.”

Feige explained, “Kaecilius… was a sorcerer within Kamar-Taj, who along with some other of his followers, who are called zealots, defect from Kamar-Taj because they believe the Ancient One is not being truthful in the way that she is teaching magic. They believe she is withholding secrets that should not be withheld, and think that maybe it’s not a bad thing if other dimensions absorb our reality. In fact, that could lead to benefits such as immortality. They may also lead to destroying the entire world as we know it. But it is definitely a philosophical break that he has from the rest of the sorcerers that is his primary angst over the course of the movie.”

“I always loved the Sauron-Saruman idea in Lord of the Rings, even though you never see Sauron except, I think, in the prologue,” said Derrickson. “I think that’s the only time you ever see him in that trilogy, but what a presence and what a power.  And we do more than that with this other dimensional power. But it, I like that idea.  So that Strange wasn’t combating something huge and fantastical all the way through the movie that had no human relatability.  That the one every version of that that we would visit felt strained and felt like too high of a bar.  That we wouldn’t clear that bar given everything else that we had to establish in the movie.”

Kaecilius comes from The Dark Knight and Se7en school of villainy


Slow your roll there, dear reader. No one is saying that Kaecilius is going to outshine Heath Ledger or Kevin Spacey; rather, as you’ll see below, Ledger’s Joker and Spacey’s John Doe are two villains that powerfully resonate with Derrickson. As a result, they informed how Derrickson approached his villain: from a perspective of making Kaecilius a compelling, smart, savvy adversary.

“The thing I’ll say about Kaecilius that is my favorite thing about him is he is a man of ideas,” said Derrickson. “And that’s to me what always is compelling about villains, you know. I am much more interested in how they think than in what they even do. My favorite villain [is] John Doe in Se7en, who does extraordinary things and is so scary. For me, the scariest scene in that movie is the ride into the desert when he articulates why [he did what he did]. I got terrified, I felt nauseous watching that movie, because I was like, ‘Oh my God, he makes sense. Oh my God, how can this be?’ You know, and it was that watertight logic of what he says. Same thing with The Joker in The Dark Knight. The watertight logic of his anarchistic philosophy in that hospital bedside table scene with Harvey Dent. So I’m not saying our villain is as great as John Doe or The Joker, but he is a man of ideas and to me that’s what makes villains compelling.”

Loneliness and trauma are what define Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange_Character_1Sht_Buildings_BC_v2_lg

By all accounts, Stephen Strange is a complex character and one who undergoes a profound change after his experiences at Kamar-Taj. The transformation from self-serving, narcissistic surgeon to altruistic master of the mystic arts doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a journey, specifically one that we’ll see charted out over the course of Strange’s feature film debut.

“Thematically, the loneliness of that character… I always really liked the idea of a character who had gone through so much trauma and was placed into a position between our world and other worlds—other dimensions, literally,” explained Derrickson. “That’s a lonely position. I like that. But I think my that as I’ve gotten older, my continuing love for Doctor Strange has been that he is a character who transforms through suffering. He goes through this gauntlet and for me that’s kind of the most powerful thing. He goes through this gauntlet of trauma and suffering, going all the way back to his childhood in the comics.”

Derrickson continued, “But then he appropriates that suffering in a certain way that limits him. And then he goes through the loss of everything in a really painful, you know, unbearable way. And eventually finds self-transcendence in something mystical. That’s Doctor Strange, you know, and I love that. And I think that again, in getting to why I think I got the job, I think it’s my genuine love for that. That was that somehow connected to what I didn’t know it at the time, but I think it really connected to what Marvel wanted the movie to be. And when I came in, I talked about Doctor Strange in those terms and for me it’s like that’s the only way I could make the movie. You know, that and I had set piece ideas already about how to make the movie as weird, as visually weird in this day and age as the Ditko comics were at their time.”

You can thank Harry Potter for all the magical artifacts


While on set, we got an intimate look behind-the-scenes of Doctor Strange, which included a metric ton of bits, baubles, amulets, artifacts, and all manner of arcane-looking magical items. One of the most surprising was an object known as a “sling ring,” a device that sorcerers use to focus their energy and teleport across time and space. It was precisely one of these devices that a frostbitten, grizzled Benedict Cumberbatch had to use when he filmed a scene of Stephen Strange teleporting from the icy peaks of Everest to the more hospitable stone floors of Kamar-Taj.

As it turns out, this was a point of contention among the production staff, particularly over how many magic items would be too many magic items. Thankfully, another talented young magic user set the stage for this film: Harry Potter.

“There was a lot of discussion about how much to use, because you can obviously get into an overload of those things,” Derrickson explained. “But I think the Harry Potter movies are proof that audiences love that stuff.  They love the idea of magical objects and they like learning the rules of those objects and what they do. I think everything that we do, I think all the names of everything and I think all the things that we use in the movie are drawn from the comics.”

Brother Voodoo and Tina Minoru make a cameo appearance


Eagle-eyed comic book fans will be in for a treat this November because there are two familiar comic book characters hiding in plain sight. While in the film’s production office, we noticed a few names on the concept art that immediately leaped out at us: Drumm and Minoru. After prodding Kevin Feige, he confirmed that Jericho Drumm, the Haitian-born magic user who eventually replaced Doctor Strange in the comics, and Tina Minoru, the dark wizard who would eventually give birth to the Runaways member Nico Minoru, are indeed in the film.

“Of Drumm and Minoru that you mention, one of those names you hear in the movie, and one of those… We never say Minoru in the movie, do we? No,” Kevin Feige told us. “So that picture, if it is in the art of book, is the only place you’d ever see that name. Drumm, you do hear the name in the movie. That’s how we always build the universe. There’s so many characters in the books that if we have need for a person to be in this place at this time and have a line or have no lines, we still want it to be someone, and often times that’s how the names come about. And the names we pull are the ones that are relatively top of mind or have been amongst characters we’ve thought about, like the Runaways, for a long time. I would call that an Easter Egg that most people won’t even see.”

Everything you need to know about Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange hits theaters on November 4, 2016.

For high-res, full-size behind-the-scenes images and new character posters, please click to enlarge in our gallery below.

Images: Disney/Marvel

Dan Casey is the senior editor of Nerdist and the author of books about Star Wars and the Avengers. Follow him on Twitter (@Osteoferocious).


The Vocaloid World of Hologram Performance Artists

The Vocaloid World of Hologram Performance Artists

Giraffes Barely Sleep, and When They do, it's on Their Butts

Giraffes Barely Sleep, and When They do, it's on Their Butts

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG Originally Had an Insane Backstory

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG Originally Had an Insane Backstory