Doctor Strange release date, trailer, story, cast, and everything you need to know

Fast Facts:

  • Doctor Strange release date: November 4, 2016 (US)/October 25, 2016 (UK)
  • Director: Scott Derrickson
  • Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams
  • Writers: Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill

Update: Doctor Strange release date is brought forward in the UK

Turns out there's even more reasons to be envious of UK cinema goers as they'll get to see the movie a full week and a half before the US. The Doctor Strange release date in the UK has now changed from October 28 to October 25. 

Update: August 18, 2016 - New Doctor Strange images tease more magic

If you can't get enough of Doctor Strange's Inception-style city planning, you're in for a treat. Marvel has released a whole host of new images for its latest magical movie, including some close-ups of all the cast. Read the full story here. 

Doctor Strange movie brings some magic to Marvel

With Captain America: Civil War on its way to home video, all focus is now on Marvel Studios' final superhero flick of the year: Doctor Strange. Based on the few trailers and images that have made their way to the internet, things are looking up for the world's greatest neurosurgeon, as Doctor Strange aims to take fans on a journey that will warp the very fabric of reality itself. 

Doctor Strange isn't going to be your typical Marvel superhero action movie, as Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige sees the film as a way for the comic book juggernaut to return to its supernatural roots. "We've always been very interested in this aspect and this is going back to the early days of Strange Tales with Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. I love that stuff. We haven't done anything that mind-trippy yet and for me, Doctor Strange is our doorway into that." With Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role and a November/October release, Doctor Strange is shaping up to be a great alternative to the standard superhero fare. Here's everything we know about the film so far.

Doctor Strange director has made a career out of bizarre horror films

Doctor Strange has been in some form of development hell over the past 30 years, bouncing back and forth between production studios and directors, with each take on the life of Stephen Strange being cancelled before it can begin production. In 1992, Wes Craven (Scream) was attached to write and direct through Savoy Pictures; in 2000, Columbia had been in talks with Chuck Russell (The Mask) and Stephen Norrington (Blade; in 2001, Dimension Films picked up the rights and handed directorial duties to David S. Goyer (Blade: Trinity); and in 2002, Miramax acquired the rights, and Goyer dropped out.

Eventually, the film rights ended up in the hands of Marvel Studios, who had been working on a version of the film as early as 2009. While attempts at locking down a decent filming script took a while, the studio finally locked in Scott Derrickson (Sinister) as the director in June 2014, and production has been relatively smooth sailing since.

Doctor Strange writer has been hard at work

Like Doctor Strange's search for a director, its screenplay woes stretch as far back as 1986, when Bob Gale, the screenwriter for Back to the Future, was tapped to write a script for a film based on the mystic Marvel superhero. Gale's version ended up being scrapped for unknown reasons, and the torch was passed to Repo Man director Alex Cox, who co-wrote a script along with Marvel legend Stan Lee. That version was halted thanks to a merchandising dispute between Warner Bros. and Marvel. And so the film stayed in limbo for years, with treatments by Wes Craven, David S. Goyer, Jeff Welch, and Michael France (Goldeneye) all going nowhere.

When the rights for Doctor Strange ended up back in the hands of Marvel Studios, another treatment for the script was assigned to Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer (Sahara) in 2010. In 2014, Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger (Kung Fu Panda were considered for a rewrite, but that task eventually fell into Jon Spaihts' (Prometheus) lap. A final set of rewrites were confirmed by C. Robert Cargill (Sinister) in December 2015 - making this the final version of the script that will make its way into theaters this winter.

Doctor Strange cast is an eclectic blend of Hollywood titans

Marvel had been eyeing a variety of actors to fill Doctor Strange's cape, with Jared Leto (Suicide Squad), Oscar Isaac (The Force Awakens), Ethan Hawke (Gattaca), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), and others approached for the role. In December 2014, Marvel announced that Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) had been selected for the lead role, despite previous reports that he would be unable to take it due to scheduling conflicts. Marvel must have really wanted Cumberbatch, because they shifted the production schedule around his availability.

Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) will play Karl Mondo, who will be more of an "amalgamation of characters culled from Doctor Strange's mythology rather than a straight-up villain, according to Deadline. Additional cast members include Rachel McAdams (Spotlight) as a fellow (as-yet unnamed) scientist, Michael Stuhlbarg (Steve Jobs) as rival scientist Nicodemus West, Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer) as The Ancient One, Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) as Kaecilius , a sorcerer who abandons The Ancient One, and Benedict Wong (The Martian) as Wong, Doctor Strange's valet.

For a full character breakdown check out our Doctor Strange cast guide.

Doctor Strange story will detail the origins of the brilliant physician

With all the sequels flying around Hollywood, it's been a while since we've had a Marvel origins movie, but that's exactly what Doctor Strange is. Stephen Strange is a neurosurgeon - one of the best in the world - until a car accident destroys his hands, forcing him to quit practicing medicine. He goes on a soul-searching journey across the world, eventually stumbling across The Ancient One, who gifts him with otherworldly magical powers.

At San Diego Comic Con 2016, Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson expanded on how he views the film in the in the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe canon, expressing that this is the point where things go "full weird". In speaking with ComicBook.com, he explains the parallels between where the Marvel Comics found themselves after Doctor Strange's inception, and how the films might find themselves following a similar path:

"What the comics did was, they brought with Doctor Strange an extra dimension into psychadelia, mysticism, and spirituality and all these very 60’s things and broke open the Marvel comic book universe into the Marvel multiverse. I think Doctor Strange is going to be the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse. It’s really serving the same function that the comic did. Even though it was a weird aberration as a comic book, I think it was a real linchpin in the comics. It ended up being decades of new stories and I think this movie will do the same thing".

We saw how the Avengers films tied Marvel's various, but related superheroes under one banner, but Doctor Strange could be the point where many of its distinct franchises - like Guardians of the Galaxy, among others - end up converging. It could make for a wackier, but bigger and better MCU. 

Doctor Strange trailer wants you to open your mind 

Back in April, Marvel revealed the first real glimpse into the mystical world of its upcoming Doctor Strange film, and it reinforces a lot of the information we've learned since it was announced. The trailer sets up the film as an origin story, explaining that 1) Stephen Strange was a brilliant neurosurgeon, 2) he got into a horrible accident which permanently damaged his ability to practice medicine, 3) he went on a soul-searching journey, and 4) he's discovered way more than he bargained for as a result. Incredible special effects evoke the mind-bending dream world of Inception, as Doctor Strange begins to understand that there are multiple universes out there to discover - many of which contort and bend against the very fabric of reality. 

Doctor Strange's second trailer dropped during San Diego Comic Con 2016, and it reiterates a lot of the same beats from the first one - brilliant doctor, horrible accident, mystical awakening. But it also goes into more detail about the overall tone of the film, as well as giving us a glimpse of Kaecilius, the villainous ex-student of the Ancient One played by Mads Mikkelsen, with the trailer implying that Strange could walk down a similar path toward evil if he isn't careful. Of course, even more of its reality-twisting special effects are on display, with a particularly killer one at the end. 

Doctor Strange poster hints at the appearance of the Sanctum Sanctorum 

Doctor Strange has also gotten a couple of posters to accompany the handful of film trailers in the wild. Both feature very similar environments - the inside of the Sanctum Sanctorum, which is a mystical focal point as well as Doctor Strange's personal headquarters - but feature the Doctor in different poses. The first, a tease showing Strange gazing away from the viewer and toward the heart of the Sanctum; the second featuring Cumberbatch in full-on regalia and a chin-down-eyes-up stare piercing directly into your soul. 

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Doctor Strange toy Disney Infinity figurine looks incredible

Had Disney Infinity not been unceremoniously cancelled, Doctor Strange (among a few other Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars characters) would have gotten his own plastic figurine for the game. It's a shame, because Doctor Strange's figure looks absolutely gorgeous. YouTube channel Infiniteer Adventures provides an in-depth look at some near-final computerized renders of what the figure would have looked like if production hadn’t shut down earlier this year. Always wonder what could have been. 

Related Doctor Strange news

Doctor Strange "is the movie where Marvel goes full weird," says director Scott Derrickson

New Doctor Strange image gives us a closer look at the Eye of Agamotto in action

Benedict Cumberbatch says Sherlock is "a LOT stranger" than Doctor Strange

Here's what Doctor Strange would have looked like in Disney Infinity (before it was canned)

Benedict Cumberbatch is the Sorcerer Supreme in new Doctor Strange concept art

Doctor Strange will keep the "madness" of the comic books says Mads Mikkelsen

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Roberts lives in Everett, WA with his wife and two kids. He once had to sell his full copy of EarthBound (complete with box and guide) to some dude in Austria for rent money. And no, he doesn't have an amiibo 'problem', thank you very much.
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