Why Doctor Strange May Be The Most Visually Intriguing Superhero Movie Yet

When I spoke to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige last month before the release of Ant-Man, he explained that some of the blockbuster’s most fascinating and sci-fi/fantasy-esque moments are in many ways an appetizer for what we can expect stylistically from director Scott Derrickson’s upcoming Doctor Strange. Only now am I starting to fully comprehend the meaning of this, however, in large part thanks to new comments from cinematographer Ben Davis, who is currently working on the magic-filled movie and has gone as far as to draw comparisons between it and both Fantasia and the art of M.C. Escher.

Davis was speaking at a BAFTA Masterclass in London this week, and Screen Daily picked up on some fascinating things that he had to say about his next Marvel Studios movie (he previously shot both Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers: Age of Ultron). Describing the approach to the 2016 movie, the Director of Photography noted that the film has what he calls "a very psychedelic grounding," and says that it will be very different from everything we’ve seen from Marvel thus far. He explained,

Most of the work within it is about other dimensions. And I described it, I think, when I was talking to Marvel as Marvel’s Fantasia, in a way, because it’s so sort of out there and different to everything else that they’ve done.

Given that the movie hasn’t actually started production yet (and the fact that Marvel keeps everything about their movies hush hush), Ben Davis couldn’t go into full detail about his experience working on Doctor Strange, but he did add that the blockbuster is going to be very challenging to shoot just because of the stylistic approach that Scott Derrickson wants to take with the material. Said Davis,

There’s a lot of pre-visualisation, and there’s a lot of work which is very hard. You look at it, and you see the imagery that they’ve created for it, and you think, ‘Well how the hell do we shoot that!?’ because it’s all sort of Escher stuff.

Before concluding the discussion of his work on Doctor Strange, Davis did add one last detail – though it will be of little surprise to those who have seen Scott Derrickson’s previous work in the horror genre. It turns out that the film about the Sorcerer Supreme is going to going to be shying from the light a bit, and will be what the cinematographer has described as "a very dark movie." As long as this darkness doesn’t diminish appreciation of the magic and craziness exploding on the big screen, I see nothing wrong with this.

Doctor Strange is going to be filming in London this fall, and while more actors are expected to be added soon, right now the cast features Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo. Look for it in theaters on November 4, 2016.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.