Why Doctor Strange’s Villain Really Hates The Ancient One

Captain America has Red Skull. Iron Man has The Mandarin. Spider-Man has The Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus. But who is Doctor Strange's signature villain? The Marvel sorcerer isn't exactly a household name, and his rogue's gallery might be even more obscure -- with names like Mephisto, Dormammu and Dagoth on the tips of our tongues. In a way, that freed up Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson as he sought to bring damaged neurosurgeon Stephen Strange to the screen for the first time in the MCU, as he was able to think outside the box and come at the villain issue from a new angle.

The solution, as we learned during an exclusive set visit to Doctor Strange outside of London, was to bring in an obscure villain and give him beef with The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), Stephen Strange's trainer and mentor. It was during this visit that Marvel President Kevin Feige confirmed to us that Mad Mikkelsen would play the main antagonist in Doctor Strange, creating a character named Kaecilius. A fellow master of sorcery, Kaecilius takes issue with Swinton's mystical teacher, as Feige explains to us:

The antagonist is Mads Mikkelsen, who plays a character named Kaecilius who was a sorcerer within Kamar-Taj (where the Ancient One trains), who along with some other of his followers -- who are called zealots -- defect from Kamar-Taj, because they believe that the Ancient One is not being truthful in the way that she is teaching magic, is teaching sorcery. They believe she's withholding secrets that should not be withheld, and think that maybe it's not a bad thing if other dimensions absorb our reality. They think that, in fact, could lead to benefits such as immortality. It 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.

One of the main challenges on any of the Marvel origin stories is dedicating enough time to the new hero, and his or her proper backstory, that it usually gives the villain the short shrift. I think we can agree that characters such as Iron Monger, Yellowjacket and even Ultron suffered because their movies focused on the heroes... and rightfully so. I'm anxious to see how Kaecilius evolves as a villain, because from what we were told, he will have no real interest in Stephen Strange -- because initially, Stephen Strange has no real skill in the realm of sorcery. But as he improves, with The Ancient One's training, I'm guessing that Kaecilius will become very interested in Doctor Strange (and may even need to call in reinforcements).

Scott Derrickson's Doctor Strange stars Benedict Cumberbatch as a wounded neurosurgeon who embarks on a journey to heal his broken hands, and ends up opening the door, to a mystical new reality. It's the fourteenth movie in the ongoing MCU, and it opens everywhere on November 4. Look for more coverage from the set of Doctor Strange on CinemaBlend all week long.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.