On Monday night in London, Los Angeles, and New York City, Marvel debuted a 15-minute extended preview of Doctor Strange for avid fans and members of the press. Benedict Cumberbatch himself greeted a crowd in the UK, while another Avenger, Sebastian Stan, presented the footage to fans in New York City.
The extended Doctor Strange preview featured never before seen exchanges between Christine (Rachel McAdams) and Steven Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and between Steven and the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). In the footage, Steven also tries to charm Wong (Benedict Wong) in a library by making jokes about his singular name — “Wong? Like…Adele…?”, but he fails miserably.
The footage, in total, was hallucinatory and surprisingly funny, and it revealed several new tidbits about the film. We’ve collected all the gems we noticed here.
The Steve Ditko-inspired cinematography is trippy AF
Before running the film’s mind-bending footage, Benedict Cumberbatch told the crowd in London, “If you just ate a bunch of mushrooms, I feel sorry for you.” It’s an incredible experience, to watch Benedict Cumberbatch turned inside out while being ripped through multiple, candy-colored universes. There’s even a shot where Strange’s fingers extend into extra hands, on top of which are additional, smaller hands.
During the kaleidoscopic acid trip scenes — which happen to Steven after the Ancient One touches him — it becomes obvious that Marvel’s film will honor original artist Steve Ditko’s classic, florescent aesthetic. That’s something fans will rally behind.
Benedict Cumberbatch will attempt to be funny
One of the revelations in Marvel’s preview footage is that fans haven’t actually heard Benedict Cumberbatch speaking as Doctor Strange for very long. Most trailers released feature more soundbites from The Ancient One, so it’s a surprise to hear Cumberbatch navigate punchlines while forcing an American accent.
Even Tilda Swinton gets a laugh, when the Ancient One asks Steven, “You ever see something like that in a gift shop?” after essentially frying his pain astrally. We know hallucinatory comedy expert Dan Harmon has been punching up the script’s comedic dialogue, so all the quips may be from him.
Steven and Christine begin the film as ex-lovers
It turns out, Cumberbatch and McAdams won’t romance each other from scratch in Doctor Strange. Dialogue from early in the film showed Christine (McAdams) refusing to date colleagues, adhering to a rule she calls “the Strange rule,” presumably because the two characters were involved before the film begins.
Fans have speculated that Christine may be an MCU film version of the Night Nurse character, who Rosario Dawson plays in the several Netflix’s Defenders-focused series. While there isn’t necessarily room across Marvel cinematic adaptations for two versions of one character, an emergency room nurse who cares for superheroes sounds like a job big enough for two women to fill.
Steven refuses a few curious-sounding patients
In the scene leading up to Steven’s fateful car crash, his assistant describes several possible patients for him, and he rejects two interesting cases outright. First, a man with a crushed spine due to using “experimental armor,” which links the film to Iron Man 2.
Second, he’s offered the chance to operate on a “schizophrenic woman” who has a brain implant and was struck by lightning. As much as we want this to indicate an original origin story for Captain Marvel, it’s not really clear who the movie is describing. That one will have to wait for updates.
Doctor Strange and Kaecilius move differently, and Stan Lee doesn’t notice
In the preview’s final chase scene, Steven Strange and Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) run away from Kaecilius and his goons, trying to escape into a golden circular portal which Strange creates with his hands. In order to keep them from dipping into the portal, Kaecilius folds reality around them, turning city streets on top of themselves and making an evil-looking kaleidoscope out of their environment.
Stan Lee makes his cameo during this scene, as a man riding a bus who doesn’t seem to notice the world around him is collapsing in on itself. In fact, the mind-bending hallucinatory tactics used by Strange and Kaecilius don’t seem to affect anyone around them, which suggests their astral rigamarole is happening invisibly. When Mordo and Strange run down and up the sides of skyscrapers, the people working inside each office just go about their day.
All in all, the preview footage succeeded in demonstrating how visually exciting Doctor Strange will be. All that remains to be seen is whether the film’s characters prove interesting enough for the MCU, which has become bloated with memorable personalities and different objectives.