Does Marvel want Doctor Strange to explore atheism? That’s what actor Mads Mikkelsen seems to have gleaned from his role as the antagonist Kaecilius.
Asked if Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange made the actor think about “time in a new way,” Mikkelsen explains some of his own existential musings. “I think we all do,” he says. “Since the beginning of humanity, we always created some God, some religion that could justify why this was happening. We can worship the sun or the moon and make those into characters eventually, but it’s all got something to do with answering the question ‘Why are we dying?’” Mikkelsen’s character Kaecilius struggles to break free from the laws of his (and our) reality: He doesn’t want to have to die one day, and he wants to move our entire planet into a dimension that doesn’t adhere to time.
Mads adds that these questions of meaning are important for everyone, but that they’re especially meaningful “for the fatalists.” “Most people would like to have another ride on the carousel because it is a fun carousel,” he says.
It’s a little bizarre Mikkelsen gleaned this much from his Marvel villain. Still, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange does discuss “the laws of nature” with several characters in the film, including Baron Mordo, Wong, and Kaecilius himself. Whereas Kaecilius values eternal life and being immune to time, Mordo and Wong tell Strange that the laws of the universe are sacred. No one talks about creationism or God, but the mystics training Strange absolutely believe in a grand design. Who designed our universe is anyone’s guess.
Elsewhere in the interview, Mads sounds less serious, saying that he was stoked to play Kaecilius, specifically because the role calls for kung fu. “It would be very hard for a comic fan like me to turn down any part in any Marvel film. Secondly, when Scott mentioned the flying kung fu stuff I was like, ‘This is happening! I’ve been waiting 51 years for this!’”
Life really is short, no matter what you believe, and it’s clear Mikkelsen just wanted to have fun while he’s on the carousel.
Doctor Strange releases November 4.