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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Then the skyline of New York. Note Avengers Tower. Again, placing the film after The Avengers.
The music is now Interstellar Overdrive by Pink Floyd. From their classic album Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, from 1967.
We are at Strange’s apartment. It is spectacular and not real – it’s a set. Through the window is a view of New York. The plate appears to be shot from the Flatiron building in New York. So around 175 5th Avenue.
We see some of Strange’s things, including an award given to him in 2016. A clue to the time the film is set.
He drives out. He’s now on 535 West End Avenue and West 86th Street, New York.
He’s driving a 2015 Lamborghini Huracán.
Then onto the George Washington Bridge in New York.
On the phone, Billy reads out potential clients. It remains to be seen if any of these pay off as actual easter eggs. None of them seem to really fit with potential candidates. The age is wrong for War Machine. The era is wrong for Captain Marvel. Marvel may have been wanting to set something up but changed their mind.
Strange crashes. The location is Northfleet Industrial Estate, Gravesham, Kent, England.
A car crash plays a pivotal part in Strange’s origin in the comics. In fact, this whole opening sequence is fairly true to the comics.
Back in the hospital. Time passes. How long is the question.
The doctor who says further surgery might work. Played by Elizabeth Healey.
Strange’s physical therapist. Played by Kobna Holbrook-Smith.
Strange calls another doctor who refuses to help. Played by Guillaume Faure.
Strange is using a Microsoft Surface. Very conspicuous product placement.
Strange investigates Jonathan Pangborn. He’s played by Benjamin Bratt. He’s an original character for the film.
Bratt is maybe best known for his role in Law & Order. But he’s had a long film career in films like Traffic and Miss Congeniality. He’s been in a superhero film before – Catwoman.
This basketball court location unknown.
Somewhat conspicuous Adidas jumper.
He mentions Kamar-Taj. Worth saying here that this is not a real place, and a vital part of Doctor Strange‘s origin.
Then a plate for Kathmandu, Nepal.
Then in Nepal. These scenes are really Kathmandu. He walks around the district of Thamel and New Road.
Then in Pashupati, home of Pashupatinath Temple. Strange walks on a bridge towards the temple.
He walks past Mordo, played by Chewitel Ejiofor.
In the comics he is Baron Mordo (but like Von Strucker and Zemo, has lost the Baron title for the film). He is the an evil mirror to Strange, a mystic who deals in black magic and the dark arts. He is one of Strange’s longest serving foes.
He first appeared in Strange Tales #111. He was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.
Ejiofor has also been incredible in many, many films, from Serenity to 12 Years A Slave.
Mordo follows Strange into Durbar Square, Patan, Nepal.
More was filmed here, that seem to be cut. We saw more photos in different locations. But it is also likely that production was trying lots of things to get the best looking sequence. There may not have been more story.
As we get into the alley, we are now on a set.
There was a deleted scene set in this alley, with a dog.
Strange is mugged, but saved by Mordo.
Back on the streets of Nepal. Apart from one exterior shot, still a set.
Then inside. The decoy Ancient One is Hamir, played by Topo Wresniwiro.
He’s a nod to Hamir The Hermit who was a supporting character in the comics. He is also Wong’s dad.
The Ancient One pushes out Strange into the Astral Plane.
Then the first psychedelic sequence. Also called the Magical Mystery Tour segment by Derrickson, a nod to the Beatles film.
We get a brief glimpse of Dormammu. We will talk more about him later.
The later part of this sequence, it’s a big nod to Steve Ditko’s original Dr Strange artwork.
There is also mention of the multiverse. This is a very particular reference in Marvel. The multiverse is the many, many alternate realities in the comics.
The Ancient One kicks Strange out. The Ancient One later talks about having another talented student turn to the dark side. Good dramatic irony here as she is talking to Mordo.
The wifi password, Shamballa, is a reference to a mythical city in Hindu religion. It was also the name of Doctor Strange storyline in the comics from 1986.
We meet Wong, in the library. He’s played by Benedict Wong.
Wong is an integral part of the Doctor Strange mythos. In the comics he is a manservant, and portrayed in a racist light. The film has toned it down significantly, making Wong more of Strange’s equal and confidant.
He also first appeared in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963). He was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.
Wong has had a long varied career and we loved him in so many things, from the TV series State Of Play and Black Mirror to films like Sunshine and The Martian.
Other one-named artists mentioned by Strange: Adele, Aristotle, Drake, Bono, Eminem. Aristotle is a scientist from ancient Greek times. The rest are musicians.
The books. The book of the invisible sun. Astronomia Nova. Codex Imperium. Key of Solomon. None of which seem to be significant and are made up for the film. Wong shows Strange the real interesting books. One appears to be The Book of Cagliostro.
Then Kaecilius and his cronies. The church is the chapel at Exeter College, Oxford.
There was a deleted scene preceding this, where we saw Kaecilius kill the priest if this chapel.
Another freaky spell, freak effects and more Dormammu.
Good old training montage. Sling rings we have seen, and explained here.
Ancient One sends Strange to Mount Everest. Story-wise, actually not that far away, in Nepal. But it’s a set, of course.
Strange shaves. He takes on distinctive goatee that is tied to the comic book version of his character.
Strange back with Wong. He calls him Beyoncé. In the next scene, Beyoncé is listening to Single Ladies by Beyoncé.
Into the Mirror Dimension. Although there are lots of different dimensions in the Marvel comics multiverse, the Mirror Dimension has never been one.
Training with Mordo.
Mordo has the Staff Of The Living Tribunal. The staff itself is not a thing from the comics, although some sort of connection to The Living Tribunal from the comics? He is an all power inter galactic God, who mandates balance in the universe. Weird that it’s a staff now.
Wands Of Watoomb. Taken from the comics. It can block magic attacks and open doorways to other dimensions.
Vaulting Boots of Valtor is also not from the comics. Although Valtor is a mythical spirit that has been referred to in the comics.
Later in the library, Strange discovers the Eye Of Agamotto. One of Doctor Strange’s key magical devices. And it is kinda just left lying there.
Strange makes time go funny with the Eye.
Mordo and Wong interrupt. Then some extended exposition. Wong mentions The Avengers.
They discuss Dormammu. And so should we. Dormammu is one of Dr Strange’s key enemies, the ruler of the Dark Dimension. He’s the dark opposite of the Ancient One, and in the comics he seduces Mordo to his side. Over the decades he’s faced Strange many times. He’s portrayed with a body, with a flaming head and no face.
He first appeared in Strange Tales #126 (November 1964). He was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.
The sanctums. The concept taken straight from the comics.
Then a fight. Strange is knocked into New York.
We see outside the sanctum. The building is a digital facade, and we are at 112 West 12th Street, corner West 4th Street. This will become Strange’s sanctum, which is famously 177A Bleecker Street, which this is not.
We later see the skyline. And no Avengers tower?
Back upstairs. We pass a lot of artefacts, including The Cloak Of Levitation. Another key part of the mythos. There’s plenty of speculation on Easter Eggs here, but nothing confirmed.
Protecting the sanctum is Daniel Drumm. He’s played by Mark Anthony Brighton.
In the comics, Daniel Drumm takes on the identity of Brother Voodoo. But he is actually the brother of Jericho Drumm, the more famous character to take that name, and would serve in the Avengers, and take over the starring role in the Strange Tales comic series. Daniel dies early on so Jericho can take over.
He first appeared in Strange Tales #169 (September 1973). He was created by Len Wein and Gene Colan.
There was a little more of Daniel Drumm that was deleted, where he briefly talks to Strange when he first arrives in the sanctum.
Then a fight! Drumm is killed.
Good gag about Dr Strange’s name.
And the fight continues.
After some back and forth, the cape. There has been some hint in the comics that the cape has an inner life. But it is far more sentient here than in any comic.
Kaecilius is trapped and does some exposition-ing.
The strong zealot returns, and stabs Strange. We get our first real look at him. He’s named Lucian in the credits but is unnamed in the film. He doesn’t appear to be directly related to anyone in the comics. He’s played by Scott Adkins.
Adkins is a martial artist who has appeared in many action films such as X-Men Origins Wolverine and Expendables and Bourne films.
Adkins says he filmed more scenes including some dialogue with Cumberbatch that didn’t make the final film.
Strange makes it back to the hospital, which is still set.
This scene, with Strange’s astral form helping his own surgery, is a nod to a scene in the comic book The Oath. In that comic, Strange supervises his own surgery in Astral form, but there’s no fight.
Strange finally defeats the zealot. I’m guessing he’s killed.
Mordo and the Ancient One arrives. A lot more exposition.
Kaecilius returns. More fighting ensues.
Then onto the streets. This mind bending stuff.
These scenes were filmed on the streets of New York, and was very public. Lots of photos were taken, as it was the first reveal of Doctor Strange’s outfit in public. Locations where filming took place are 21st St and Broadway, 28th St and Park Ave South. On screen, it’s just a digital mangle.
They crash into a bus. In the bus is Stan Lee in his cameo. Lee was filmed by James Gunn. Most of Lee’s phase 3 cameos were done in one day.
Lee is reading the Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley. It’s where the band The Doors got their name.
The Ancient One arrives. After more fighting, The Ancient One is killed.
She falls through a building. This scene was filmed in London, near Old Street.
Back in the hospital. The Ancient One and Strange astral projections have one more conversation.
Strange gets a scene with Christine.
Then a plate of Hong Kong. We are looking at the gorgeous harbour.
Then on the street. This is an elaborate studio set.
We see Wong and the Hong Kong team. One of them, holding a staff with a circle on the end, in Tina Minoru. She is an important supporting character in The Runaways comic. She is holding a magic staff called The Staff Of One. None of this matches anything to do with the Runaways TV series that came to Hulu, that had no involvement from Marvel Studios, and created a totally different version of this character.
Doctor Strange and Mordo arrive.
Strange calls on the Eye of Agamotto to rewind time.
Huge neon Yakult sign. Product placement?
There’s a bit of fighting. Wong is saved.
Strange enters the Dark Dimension. We finally meet Dormammu. He’s a digital creation. He is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Then the time loop. Doctor Strange dies many, many times.
After the bargain. Kac is killed?
There is some thought that maybe he and the zealots were turned into Mindless Ones.
The fight is over. Mordo quits. This alludes to his role in the comics – destined to be a villain.
Then the reveal that the Eye of Agamotto is an infinity stone – and obviously the Time gem. This is not the case in the comics.
Then in his sanctum, we get a hero shot.
Then the skyline. Then credits.
Mid credits sequence.
This scene was filmed by Taika Waititi, director Of Thor: Ragnarok.
Location is a set, unknown if it’s the existing Doctor Strange set or something new built for Ragnarok.
Oh yeah. And it’s Thor. He’s played by Chris Hemsworth.
This is his 5th appearance in the MCU. We last saw him in Avengers Age Of Ultron.
This scene will play out longer, and differently, in Thor Ragnarok.
Post credits sequence.
An unknown workshop. We assume a set.
Mordo with Pangborn. How much time has passed?
Mordo has gone bad.