How Doctor Strange Shot The Climactic Fight Scene

Doctor Strange

Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for Doctor Strange are ahead! If you haven't seen the movie yet, turn back now and click on another one of our fine stories.

Nearly every superhero movie is guaranteed to have a climactic, explosive battle towards the end of the story. Sometimes it involves the hero(es) battling swarms of generic aliens/robots/other kind of goons, other times it's a more personal conflict with the main protagonist's enemy/adversary. Doctor Strange fell into the latter category when Stephen Strange traveled to Hong Kong and battled Kaecilius. What made this battle especially challenging was the time manipulation happening around the combatants. Fortunately, thanks to a special digital process, what director Scott Derrickson once believed to be "unshootable" was eventually realized.

Scott Derrickson explained to Yahoo how difficult it was to realize this particular Doctor Strange battle scene, as he had to show the fighting moving normally while everything around them was happening in reverse. In the end, they found a way to make the sequence work, but it took a lot of time. Derrickson said:

We figured it out. Every shot had to be shot four or five times. We had to use what's called Motion Control, so it's time-consuming. Specialty frame rates and then Reverse Its. Then layer it again and add layers of debris. It was so complicated.

Superhero movies are among the many types of blockbusters that require longer post-production time, and it sounds like Doctor Strange benefitted from that extension. It's hard enough to choreograph a fight for a movie, and even harder when there's a lot of visual effects being thrown in every direction to show "magic." Then on top of all that, you need to have time winding backwards as destructive events were undone. It's no wonder this Motion Control process took so long. I won't even pretend to try to understand all the steps that were involved to make that battle happen, I'm just happy that it turned out as well as it did.

By the time Doctor Strange and Mordo tracked down Kaecilius and his followers to Hong Kong, that Sanctum had been destroyed, leaving nothing to stop the Dark Dimension from beginning to destroy Earth. Fortunately, thanks to Strange using the Eye of Agamotto (a.k.a. the Time Stone), he was able to reverse the damage caused by Kaecillius, which included bringing Wong back to life. The fun didn't stop there, though, as Strange then traveled to the Dark Dimension and put himself and Dormammu through a time loop until the entity agreed to leave Earth alone. Since this isn't the last we've seen of the Eye in the MCU, one can only imagine what other kind of temporal weirdness we may be in for later down the line.

Doctor Strange is currently showing in theaters, and if you haven't already, check out our review of the movie here.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.