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Doctor Strange (film)

Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange, wearing his traditional costume, including his red cloak coming out from a flowing energetic portal, and around him the world and New York turning around itself with the film's cast names above him and the film's title, credits and billing are underneath.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Scott Derrickson
Produced by Kevin Feige
Written by
Based on
Music by Michael Giacchino
Cinematography Ben Davis
Edited by
  • Wyatt Smith
  • Sabrina Plisco
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date
  • October 13, 2016 (2016-10-13) (Hong Kong)
  • November 4, 2016 (2016-11-04) (United States)
Running time
115 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $165 million
Box office $677.4 million

Doctor Strange is a 2016 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the fourteenth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film is directed by Scott Derrickson, who wrote the film with Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, Mads Mikkelsen, and Tilda Swinton. In Doctor Strange, surgeon Stephen Strange learns the arts from the Ancient One after a career-ending car accident.

Various incarnations of a Doctor Strange film had been in development since the mid-1980s, until Paramount Pictures acquired the film rights in April 2005, on behalf of Marvel Studios. Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer were brought on board in June 2010 to write a screenplay. In June 2014, Derrickson and Spaihts were hired to direct and re-write the film, respectively. Cumberbatch was chosen for the eponymous role in December 2014, necessitating a schedule change to work around his other commitments. This gave Derrickson time to work on the script himself, for which he brought Cargill on to help. The film began principal photography in November 2015 in Nepal, before moving to the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and concluding in New York City in April 2016.

Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
2016 Evening Standard British Film Awards Best Actor Benedict Cumberbatch Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor Nominated
Hollywood Film Awards Hollywood Visual Effects Award Stephane Ceretti and Richard Bluff Won
Hollywood Music in Media Awards Best Original Score – Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film Michael Giacchino Nominated
Critics' Choice Awards Best Hair and Makeup Doctor Strange Nominated
Best Visual Effects Doctor Strange Nominated
Best Action Movie Doctor Strange Nominated
Best Actor in an Action Movie Benedict Cumberbatch Nominated
Best Actress in an Action Movie Tilda Swinton Nominated
Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie Doctor Strange Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society Best Visual Effects Doctor Strange Nominated
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Best Action Film Doctor Strange Nominated
Best Horror / Science-Fiction Film Doctor Strange Nominated
Best Visual Effects Doctor Strange Nominated
Florida Film Critics' Circle Best Visual Effects Doctor Strange Nominated
2017 Houston Film Critics Society Technical Achievement Doctor Strange Nominated
People's Choice Awards Favorite Year End Blockbuster Doctor Strange Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture Doctor Strange Nominated
Annie Awards Outstanding Achievement, Animated Effects in a Live Action Production Terry Bannon, Nicholas Tripodi, Daniel Fotheringham, Matt Weaver and Julien Boudou Won
Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature Stephane Ceretti, Susan Pickett, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli, Paul Corbould Nominated
Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature London – Brendan Seals, Raphael A. Pimentel, Andrew Zink, Gregory Ng Nominated
New York City – Adam Watkins, Martijn van Herk, Tim Belsher, Jon Mitchell Won
Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Photoreal Project New York Mirror Dimension – Landis Fields, Mathew Cowie, Frederic Medioni, Faraz Hameed Nominated
Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature Hong Kong Reverse Destruction – Florian Witzel, Georges Nakhle, Azhul Mohamed, David Kirchner Nominated
Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Feature New York City – Matthew Lane, Jose Fernandez, Ziad Shureih, Amy Shepard Nominated
Art Directors Guild Awards Excellence in Production Design for a Fantasy Film Charles Wood Nominated
British Academy Film Awards Best Makeup and Hair Doctor Strange Nominated
Best Production Design Doctor Strange Nominated
Best Special Visual Effects Doctor Strange Nominated
Cinema Audio Society Awards Motion Picture – Live Action Doctor Strange Nominated
Costume Designers Guild Awards Excellence in Fantasy Film Alexander Byrne Won
Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild Awards Feature-Length Motion Picture - Best Period and/or Character Make-Up Jeremy Woodhead Nominated
Feature-Length Motion Picture - Best Special Make-Up Effects Jeremy Woodhead Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Visual Effects Doctor Strange Nominated
Academy Awards Best Visual Effects Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould Nominated
Empire Awards Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Doctor Strange Pending
Best Actor Benedict Cumberbatch Pending
Best Costume Design Doctor Strange Pending
Best Visual Effects Doctor Strange Pending
Best Production Design Doctor Strange Pending
Nebula Awards Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation Doctor Strange Pending
Saturn Awards Best Comic-to-Film Motion Picture Doctor Strange Pending
Best Director Scott Derrickson Pending
Best Actor Benedict Cumberbatch Pending
Best Supporting Actress Tilda Swinton Pending
Best Film Screenplay Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, and C. Robert Cargill Pending
Best Production Design Charles Wood Pending
Best Music Michael Giacchino Pending
Best Costume Design Alexander Byrne Pending
Best Make-Up Jeremy Whitewood Pending
Best Special / Visual Effects Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli, and Paul Corbould Pending

A neurosurgeon who, after a car accident that led to a journey of healing, discovers the hidden world of magic and alternate dimensions. Cumberbatch described Strange as arrogant, with the film "about him going from a place where he thinks he knows it all to realizing he knows nothing." He compared the character to the version of Sherlock Holmes that he portrays in Sherlock, calling them both "intelligent" and having "smatterings of the same colors". The film's mysticism resonated with Cumberbatch, for whom spirituality has been important since he spent his gap year teaching English at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Darjeeling, India. Strange's abilities in the film include casting spells with "tongue-twisty fun names", creating mandalas of light for shields and weapons, and creating portals for quick travel around the world. Strange is also aided by a Cloak of Levitation for flight, and the Eye of Agamotto, a relic containing an Infinity Stone that can manipulate time. Cumberbatch took great care in defining the physical movements and gestures for the spells, knowing that they would be noted and studied by fans. He described these gestures as "balletic" and "very dynamic", and received help with finger-tutting movements from dancer Jayfunk.
A Master of the Mystic Arts, close with the Ancient One and a mentor to Strange. This version of Mordo is a combination of different characters from the Doctor Strange mythos, and unlike in the comics is not introduced as villainous. Ejiofor noted this, calling Mordo ambiguous and "a very complex character that, really, I don’t think can be nailed down either way". Director Scott Derrickson added that the change in character stemmed from casting Ejiofor and conversations the director had with him. Ejiofor described Mordo's relationship with the Ancient One as "long and intense", while noting a "growing respect" between the character and Strange, until "things get complicated". Derrickson felt Mordo was a fundamentalist, saying "When someone gives themselves over to an extraordinarily strict moral code, the process of breaking out of that is a violent one. He becomes disillusioned with the Ancient One’s [moral contradictions]. The difference is Strange can accept that contradiction. Mordo cannot cope with it," which leads to the "antagonism between Mordo and Strange" to explore in future films. Discussing the diversity of the film's cast when addressing the casting of the controversial characters the Ancient One and Wong, Derrickson was confident that the decision to cast Ejiofor as Mordo, and thus changing the character "from white to black", was the right one to make.
A fellow surgeon of Strange. Palmer was initially written as a love interest for Strange, but shortly before filming Derrickson suggested that this trope be subverted by making the two characters lovers as part of their backstory, and coming "out the other side of it as friends". McAdams described this dynamic by saying, "The love is between them no matter what stage they're at in the actual relationship." With this change in characterization, producer Kevin Feige described Palmer as a "lynchpin to [Strange's] old life, once he steps into the role of a sorcerer. She is someone he connects with at the beginning, and reconnects with, and helps anchor his humanity." He explained that having this character be a "connection to Strange’s life in New York City, in the normal world" after his journey was important to the studio, which is why Palmer was chosen for the character over the more prominent, but more fantastical character Clea. Palmer is also known as the hero Night Nurse in the comics, a storyline that does not play into the film, but that Feige hinted could be explored in future films. Rosario Dawson portrays another Night Nurse character, Claire Temple, in Marvel's Netflix television series.
A Master of the Mystic Arts, tasked with protecting some of Kamar-Taj's most valuable relics and books. The character is depicted in the comics as Strange's Asian, "tea-making manservant", a racial stereotype that Derrickson did not want in the film, and so the character was not included in the film's script. After the non-Asian actress Tilda Swinton was cast as the other significant Asian character from the Doctor Strange comics, the Ancient One—which was also done to avoid the comics' racial stereotypes—Derrickson felt obligated to find a way to include Wong in the film. The character as he ultimately appears is "completely subverted as a character and reworked into something that didn’t fall into any of the stereotypes of the comics", which Derrickson was pleased gave an Asian character "a strong presence in the movie". Actor Wong was also pleased with the changes made to the character, and described him as "a drill sergeant to Kamar-Taj" rather than a manservant, who does not practice martial arts in the film, another racial stereotype. Derrickson added that Wong will have "a strong presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe" moving forward.
A Master of the Mystic Arts who breaks off from the Ancient One. A combination of several antagonists from the comics, Kaecilius was used in the film to drive the introduction and development of bigger villains for the future, including "certain individuals who live in other dimensions". Derrickson compared this dynamic to that of Saruman and Sauron in The Lord of the Rings, giving the film a "huge and fantastical" villain like Sauron, but also having "human relateability" with Kaecilius, like Saruman, for Strange to face throughout the film. Derrickson admitted that Marvel's villains are often criticized, and noted that MCU films dedicate little time to developing antagonists. For Doctor Strange, he just hoped to show "Kaecilius's point of view and what makes him tick" in the time that he could, feeling that the character is a "man of ideas" with "watertight logic" like John Doe from Seven and the Joker from The Dark Knight. On these motivations, Feige explained that Kaecilius believes the Ancient One is a hypocrite, protecting her own power base, and that the world may be better off "if we were to allow some of these other things through." Mikkelsen's makeup took between 2-3 hours to apply.
A Celtic mystic, who becomes Strange's mentor. The character in the comics is a Tibetan man, a situation which co-writer C. Robert Cargill compared to the Kobayashi Maru, an unwinnable training exercise in the Star Trek universe. He explained that adapting the character as the comics portrayed him would be realizing the major Asian Fu Manchu stereotype, and would involve the film with the Tibetan sovereignty debate, but not giving one of few significant Asian roles to an Asian actor would also understandably be received negatively. Derrickson wanted to change the character to an Asian woman, but felt that an older Asian woman would invoke the Dragon Lady stereotype, while a younger Asian woman would be perceived as exploiting Asian fetish and "a fanboy's dream girl". To avoid the character filling any of those three stereotypes, or enabling the stereotype of a "Western character coming to Asia to learn about being Asian", Derrickson decided to cast a non-Asian actor in the role, but to still take the opportunity to cast "an amazing actress in a male role". Feeling that Swinton was the obvious choice to play "domineering, secretive, ethereal, enigmatic, [and] mystical", Derrickson wrote the Ancient One in the film specifically for the actress, before she was offered the role. Additionally, though the film uses the terms "her" and "she", Swinton chose to portray the character as androgynous, while Feige explained that the Ancient One and Sorcerer Supreme are mantles in the film held by multiple characters through time, so a more comic-accurate Ancient One could exist within the MCU. Still, Swinton's casting was widely criticized as whitewashing. In response to this, Derrickson said that though he was pleased with the diversity of the film's cast, in terms of both gender and ethnicity, "Asians have been whitewashed and stereotyped in American cinema for over a century and people should be mad or nothing will change. What I did was the lesser of two evils, but it is still an evil."
  • Wyatt Smith
  • Sabrina Plisco
  • October 13, 2016 (2016-10-13) (Hong Kong)
  • November 4, 2016 (2016-11-04) (United States)


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