Doctor Strange will prove yet again that the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn't above making changes to the source material. Two of the biggest changes to Doctor Strange canon that MCU films has made, is no doubt the characters of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and Baron Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor). With the former, the changes are pretty clear: Tilda Swinton's Ancient One is not an old Tibetan man.
However, besides hiring a black actor like Chiwetel Ejiofor to play Mordo (who is traditionally a Transylvanian nobleman... go figure), the changes to Mordo has been more extensive - especially in terms of his origin and development within the Doctor Strange mythos. The filmmakers have already made it clear in interviews that the MCU version of Karl Mordo is someone they wanted to be less "arch" than the over-the-top evildoer from the classic comic books.
While Comicbook.com was on the set of Doctor Strange, both director Scott Derrickson and Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige talked about how Mordo will be different in the MCU. Feige explains, "He is different in this movie. He is, as portrayed by Chiwetel, Strange's advocate in the beginning of the movie. The Ancient One doesn't necessarily see the potential in Strange that Mordo does. Mordo's the one who talks The Ancient One into allowing him in. For this film, he is a partner of Strange and he is a mentor to Strange. That was something we wanted to play against in the comics because... There are some things that are too obvious for modern-day audiences. The jealous rival named Baron von Mordo, who turns against him when he shows any signs of a talent? We specifically did not want to do that."
Director Scott Derrickson added that creating a version of Mordo that wasn't the cliched comic book foe was important, since "that character was just really arch, just really arch, and he's in the origin issue. Even in reading through, and I've read the entire body of Doctor Strange now ... It was a difficult character, very difficult character to adapt because of the very basic archness that he plays all the way through there.... I felt that we had to start by establishing who he was before he got into that arch villainy in the comics. That's a lot of what we're doing in this movie. We're sort of building a foundational understanding of who he was before the guy that you met in that comic, so that that turn isn't an arch turn."
Of course, creating a more complex version of Mordo requires a performance that will make the character interesting for the audience; but with an Oscar-nominated actor like Chiwetel Ejiofor in the role, that shouldn't too hard. "It's one of the reasons we cast Chiwetel," said Feige, "because we wanted somebody who had an unbelievable authenticity in delivering a lot of wackadoo lines and exposition."
Doctor Strange has assembled a cast of top-notch actors (Benedict Cumberbatch, Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams and Mads Mikkelsen), who all must deliver arguably the most hokey MCU lingo we've heard to date. Alternate dimensions, ancient entities (like Dormammu), spell and incantations - it's all going to sound pretty funny onscreen - unless there are some strong European accents behind the words, that is.
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming– July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; and Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019