The Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to get very weird. The next film is unusual, deviating from the norms of the established Marvel Studios films, taking fans into a mystifying world where the abnormal and peculiar take over. Yes, that's a lot of synonyms for "strange," because Doctor Strange is ready to reinvent the way we look at magic in movies, and maybe even change the way we think about the world.
During a fifteen minute 3D IMAX preview presented around the country Monday night, minds were expanded as the first real, in-depth look at magic in the Marvel Universe was presented on screen. Sure, we've seen Scarlet Witch's chaos magic, and there've been some little tricks and spells from certain Asgardians, but most assuredly you've never seen anything like this, in the Marvel Universe or in movies at all.
The footage showed how the Masters of the Mystic Arts will bend the world, drawing cosmic energies from other dimensions and traveling through parallel universes. If that all sounds outrageous and trippy, that's because it precisely is. This is a Steve Ditko drug-fueled kaleidoscope daydream, a psychadelic explosion of imagination and wonder - and it is awesome for it. The moment the Ancient One tells Dr. Stephen Strange to open his eye, sending him careening through other dimensions, the world opens up in a spectacular way. There are little bits to see throughout, like a mysterious giant face, mention of a "dark dimension" (yeah, that's the home of Dormammu, and yeah, both ComicBook staffers in attendance flipped out at its mention), a dimension that looks similar to things we saw in Ant-Man, and much more. It was the kind of sequence that made me want to go frame by frame and try to catch every little thing - but also seemed like it was better experienced full speed on a giant screen, making you wish for more.
One of the standout scenes was a chase that showed the world-bending of this movie really can't be compared to Inception as it has been so much based on the early posters and trailers. Seeing a full sequence, Strange and Mordo are running from Kaecilius and his followers, desperately trying to open one of their portals to escape. Everytime they open a portal on the run, Kaecilius bends the world to throw them off their path. It's all happening in real time, and the effects are so fast and instantaneous that every turn heightens the intensity of the action gloriously. The movie also shows that everyone not directly involved simply doesn't even see this all happening - their perception isn't attuned to the world of magic, and that was displayed by a cameo from Stan Lee. Basically, every moment of that sequence was hearth-thumping, mind-blowing, then ended with a laugh-out-loud joke; perfect, right?
The overall feeling of this movie, based on the footage we saw last night, is brand-new. The magic was brand-new, the action was brand-new, the tone of spirituality and mysticism was brand-new. And that's all just a tiny fifteen minute sample of a nearly two hour movie. With IMAX used for over an hour of that, they made a good case for seeing it on the larger format screen... but the case for seeing the movie five, ten times was even better.
Doctor Strange looks simply magical, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be better for it's inclusion.