Editor's Note: The following article contains spoilers for Doctor Strange. It was not our intention to run this story before the film's release (either internationally or domestically), but unfortunately early reporting from other sites has forced our hand. For now, we recommend saving this page until after you've seen the film, and clicking away to another one of our wonderful articles.
Within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we've seen a whole lot of great actors go head-to-head in hero and villain roles. From Robert Downey Jr. vs. Jeff Bridges, to Chris Hemsworth vs. Tom Hiddleston, to everybody vs. James Spader, it's one of the joys that the big screen movies provide. The upcoming Doctor Strange puts a bit of a twist on this, however, as Benedict Cumberbatch faces off against not only Mads Mikkelson, but also himself as the dreaded Dormammu.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with director Scott Derrickson and the cast of Doctor Strange during the movie's Los Angeles press day, and it was during an interview with Derrickson that I learned that Benedict Cumberbatch secretly plays the role of Dormammu in the film. Knowing this, I asked the new Marvel star how he came to play both the hero and the villain role in the movie, and he explained that it was really his idea. Said Cumberbatch,
It was wonderful. It was sort of my idea. I went, 'Look, if this is going to work, rather than being a big ghoulish monster, if it's some kind of reflection of him -- if it's something that he's giving that's coming back at him in a really horrific way, that would be fun! And I'd be happy to do the voice for it. Any facial capture.' And they were like, 'Really?' 'Yeah, okay.' So I did, and it kind of works, because... I don't know, maybe it doesn't work! It's not immediately noticeable, but a lot of the animation is sort of like a mirror reflection, a rippled mirror reflection, of him, of Strange.
The villainous Dormammu was first teased as having a part in Doctor Strange a few weeks ago during the movie's special IMAX preview. When I noticed that the performer isn't mentioned in the finished film's end credits, I chose to ask Scott Derrickson about it and he explained that the character was mostly the work of Benedict Cumberbatch with the assistance of a British voice actor. Said the director,
It was a blend of a voice actor, a British actor with a very deep voice, and Benedict Cumberbatch. And it's his facial capture. You're the first person to ask that question. It's Benedict. It's all Benedict's facial capture.
You can watch both the Doctor Strange director and star talk about Benedict Cumberbatch's work as Dormammu in the film in the video below.
It's a pretty cool move having Dormammu played by Benedict Cumberbatch, and something that will be fun for viewers to really analyze when rewatching the film.