Doctor Strange isn’t just following in Marvel’s tradition of being a box office success. It also comes jam-packed with hidden gems, Easter eggs and plenty of secrets you’ll probably miss that first, or even second time around. The movie is enjoying a stellar first weekend. And there’s a good chance you might be seeing it again. So we’ve collected some of the minor, yet very cool things, that might have gone unnoticed by the less initiated Marvel fan.
Helping delve the depths of Doctor Strange is the movie’s own director Scott Derrickson, who teamed up with Entertainment Weekly for a quite insightful Q&A. And the first thing of note is that Steve Ditko’s artistic style from the 1960s Strange Tales comic book series served as a direct inspiration for the movie’s visual style. Ditko, now 89 and mostly staying out of the public eye, co-created Spider-Man and was the one who came up with the idea for Doctor Strange. Says Scott Derrickson about the homage.
“Ditko’s artwork was very psychedelic, very ’60s, and that was the counter-culture making its way into the Marvel Universe. I felt very strongly that art was still progressive and had not been imitated. I don’t think visual effects were ready to try and imitate him, but VFX finally caught up with Steve Ditko.”
The director went onto say that the Dark Dimension as it appears in the movie was pulled directly from the pages of a Ditko comic. Other artists who inspired the movie include M.C. Escher and Salvador Dali.
If you love the Spirit Warriors scene in the movie, where Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange leaves his body to fight in the Astral Plane, that sequence is what actually won Derrickson his directing job on the movie. And he pitched it during his first meeting with Kevin Feige. The scene has Strange fighting off the forces of villain Kaecilius, played by Mads Mikkelsen, for his soul, literally. All the while, Rachel McAdams’ Night Nurse Christine Palmer is trying to save the good Doctor from a mortal stab wound.
This sequence is actually inspired by the 2006 comic book story The Oath, which was written by Bryan K. Vaughn, and it incorporates a lot of the imagery seen on the pages of this Marvel favorite from over a decade ago. Says the director about this cool moment from the movie.
“I remember meeting with Kevin Feige and I actually wrote and storyboarded that. I used that as a demonstration for the kind of thing I thought should be in a Doctor Strange movie.”
One thing audiences might not have noticed until it gets pointed out to them is that there is not a single gun in Doctor Strange. And it’s said to be a first for a Marvel movie. And Scott Derrickson believes this was necessary for the character to learn and grow, not necessarily an anti-gun message. He notes that there is nothing ‘less magical’ than a gun. Instead, the hero and the villain tussle using swords they’ve created through use of the mystic arts and cosmic energy.
Anyone who has seen Captain America: Civil War knows that Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes was badly injured in the massive airport sequence. That moment gets a nod in Doctor Strange. Before Stephen has his life changing car accident, he is fielding calls from incoming patiences. A colleague is running through a few possibilities, and one of them is a Marine Colonel who has suffered a severe spinal injury from having used what is described as experimental armor. It definitely sounds like they are talking about Rhodey.
The problem here is that the movie is supposed to take place before the events of Civil War. And in the recent past, the director denied this scene was about War Machine. But talking with EW, it sounds like he might have changed his mind about it actually being Rhodey and won’t give a definitive answer. Though, if it is Rhodey, that does cause a slight timeline discrepancy.
There is also a nod to Captain Marvel, aka Carol Danvers, who will be played by Brie Larson in Avengers: Infinity War before getting her own solo outing. She is one patient Doctor Strange seems more interested in taking on. She is described as a young woman who has been struck by lightening. And this has caused serious problems with the electronic implant in her brain, which is being used to quell her schizophrenia. Sounds like our Carol, but Scott Derrickson won’t out right confirm it either way.
The filmmaker goes onto note that the scene stealing Cloak of Levitation was not initially his idea, but came from the suggestion of others. And in the process, the Cloak became its own character. One character that didn’t quite make it into the movie was Brother VooDoo, who was mentioned in a prequel comic for the movie. Though, it sounds like that character is definitely being planned for the future. Thing is, if you look close, you might spot Brother VooDoo who is the true definition of an Easter egg in the movie.
Actor Mark Anthony Brighton is credited as playing Brother VooDoo in this first Doctor Strange movie. He is one of the guardians of The Ancient One. Here, his character is called Daniel Drumm, Brother VooDoo’s birth name before he died and was resurrected. He is killed by Kaecilius in this movie. And there is reason to bring him back, so the ground work has been laid for his future emergence in the MCU.
Probably the most obvious Easter egg is the big Thor cameo that comes at the end of the movie. The mid-credits sequence has Chris Hemsworth’s Thor meeting Stephen Strange for the first time, which officially brings Doctor Strange into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thor needs Strange to help track down his missing father Odin, who is somewhere in New York. Director Taika Waititi, who recently wrapped on Thor: Ragnarok, shot this scene, which will be part of his upcoming sequel. Says Scott Derrickson.
“[Doctor Strange] is very much a stand-alone movie. It doesn’t lay too much specific track, because Strange is not yet integrated into that world until the Thor tag at the end. I’d wrapped and Kevin Feige said we need [Thor and Strange] to meet before we tear that set down. When they shot it, it wasn’t intended to be the tag. It just worked really well.”
Benedict Cumberbatch will return in Thor 3 when it opens next year around this same time, on November 3, 2017. This will help tie the Infinity Stones into the Doctor Strange universe. The Eye of Agamotto which Strange wears around his neck, has been confirmed to be one of these gems sought by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War: The Time Gem. This was one element that Marvel boss Kevin Feige insisted be in Doctor Strange before the director accepted the job. Here is a list of the other stones.
“Space Stone: This is the Tesseract introduced in Captain America, which was later used in The Avengers to open a wormhole over New York. Reality Stone: A red gem from Thor: The Dark World, which can collapse the universe into darkness. Power Stone: The orb from Guardians of the Galaxy, which can wipe out planets. Mind Stone: Part of Loki’s scepter, which can command obedience. It was later extracted and used as a key component of the synthezoid Vision. Currently, it can be found embedded in his forehead.”
There is still one stone that has gone undiscovered. The how, when where and why of that stone has yet to be divulged. Where will it show up is anyone’s guess. Doctor Strange is in theaters now.