Doctor Strange (2016) – Complete Annotations


Opening shot of Doctor Strange

We open in the monastery. This, and the many scenes here to follow, were all filmed in the studio. This time it was Longcross Studios in Surrey, UK. Parts of Thor: The Dark World was filmed there.

We see three shadowy characters.

Inside is a librarian. He’s played by Alaa Safi.

He is captured by a bunch of interlopers.

Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius in Doctor Strange (2016)

Head interloper. Kaecilius, played by Mads Mikkelsen.

There is a Kaecilius in the comics, but he has been reimagined for the film. In the comics, he is a disciple of Baron Mordo (who we  will meet later), and somewhat second string. Here, he has been elevated to be a powerful equal to Doctor Strange with an all new motivation.

He first appeared in Strange Tales #130 (May 1965). He was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Mikkleson was a star in his native Denmark, rising to international fame with films like The Hunt and Casino Royale and TV like Hannibal.

They are interrupted by The Ancient One. We see more of her later. She is played by Tilda Swinton.

Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange (2016)

The Ancient One is a key part of Doctor Strange’s origin. An all knowing, all powerful sorcerer who trains Strange, and of course, dies. In the comics, he was initially portrayed as a pretty racist caricature or an old Chinese man. There was some controversy around the white casting, bit racial stereotypes don’t help either.

He/she first appeared in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963). He/she was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Tilda Swinton is best known for her work in independent cinema with films like We Need To Talk About Kevin, Only Lovers Left Alive and more. This is a rare excursion into blockbusters for her.

The bad guys escape. They run out of the National Liberal Club, 1 Whitehall Place, London. They run south east down Whitehall Place.

They are trapped. This curved street is Great Scotland Yard, London. As seen from Northumberland Avenue, near Embankment.

Then some mindblowing special effects and a fight.

Some of the goons are killed – we assume?

Kaecilius opens a portal with a specific gesture. He uses a sling ring, which we will learn more about later. It was invented for the film, not a thing from the comics.

Then we see Doctor Stephen Strange. He’s played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Stephen Strange in Doctor Strange (2016)

Strange is a cornerstone character in the Marvel Universe in the comics. The sorcerer supreme has had his own regular series, but his powers has made him a notable player in many of Marvel’s big crossover events. His origin (brilliant surgeon, car crash, damaged hands, journey Into magic) is pretty much intact, as is his original costume, so different from the streamlined look of the X-Men, Spider-Man et al. Notably, he’s never been a significant member of The Avengers.

He also first appeared in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963). He was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Benedict Cumberbatch shot to international fame with his starring role in Sherlock, backing it up with roles in films like The Imitation Game.

This hospital is a set.

The music is Shining Star by Earth Wind And Fire. First released in 1975, from their album That’s The Way Of the World.


The other doctors. Nurse Billy played by Adam Pelta-Paul.

The song is indeed Feels So Good by Chuck Mangione. It was indeed the title track to a 1977 album, with the single released in February 1978.

Next to Strange is Dr Patel, played by Meera Syal.

Syal is a huge star of British TV and film. Odd that such a great actor would get this small role, suggesting there was more to the hospital staff that was planned and shot but was cut.

Then Christine Palmer, played by Rachel McAdams.

Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer in Doctor Strange (2016)

In the comics, Palmer is Night Nurse, a very minor character and one of several nurses who got their own series in the 70s. She is a minor player who helps Marvel heroes at the New York Hospital where they work. She doesn’t take up the role here. In the comics, in particularly in the storyline The Oath, Strange has history with the more famous Night Nurse, Linda Carter. As her name is incredibly close to the name of the most famous actor to play Wonder Woman, it was possibly changed to avoid a conflict.

She first appeared in Night Nurse #1 (November 1972). She was created by Jean Thomas and Win Mortimer.

McAdams is best known for he work in romantic comedies, although this is her fourth film involving time travel after The Time Traveler’s Wife, Midnight In Paris and About Time.

Worth noting that the Marvel Netflix series has a character that is supposed to be their version of Night Nurse.

The other doctor – Nicodemus West. He’s played by Michael Stuhlbarg.

Michael Stuhlbarg as Nicodemus West in Doctor Strange (2016)

West appeared in the storyline Doctor Strange: The Oath. He is a professional rival for Strange, who also travels into a mystical fate, being a villain. His story is changed here significantly to just be a professional rival.

He first appeared in Doctor Strange: The Oath #1 (December 2006). He was created by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin.

Stuhlbarg is simply brilliant is everything he’s been in, from Boardwalk Empire, Call Me By Your Name, A Serious Man, and so much more.

And he saves the patient’s life.

Palmer and Strange has dated. Not something from the comics.

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