The first teaser trailer for Doctor Strange dropped April 12 during Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Within an hour, it had already racked up nearly 100,000 views on YouTube, so you know the magic is real. This first glimpse, which seems largely culled from the first half of the film, drops a few hints of what we might expect from the full theatrical feature. What’s secreted within these scenes from Doctor Strange?
The most notable reveal in this trailer is Rachel McAdams. She’s avoided sharing details of her character, leading many to believe she’d be playing Clea, the Doctor’s main love interest. We briefly see her as a nurse in a hospital here, seemingly confirming very unusual early rumors that she’d be playing the obscure character Night Nurse, whose specialty is fixing up busted superheroes. This might sound like Rosario Dawson’s character in Daredevil, because it is—or at least it was, until Marvel made the showrunner change her name so Night Nurse could be used in the studio’s films.
Linda Carter, a.k.a. Night Nurse, has no actual superpowers, but finds herself hooked up with unusually-powered patients after a run-in with an injured Daredevil. Later on, she aids Captain America’s team during Marvel’s Civil War, which all but confirms which side Doctor Strange will take in the superhero struggle (if the Sorcerer Supreme actually ends up choosing a side at all). It’s worth noting that in the comics, Strange and Carter begin a relationship during the miniseries The Oath. Clea or not, these two are probably gonna smooch.
Marvel tends to play it fast and loose with their characters’ origins on the big screen. Thor’s is never really explained, Captain America’s is totally accurate, and Ant-Man is kind of a deep dish pizza of comic ideas just mashed together—all of which is to say there was no telling how they’d handle Strange’s backstory.
This trailer makes it abundantly clear that Doctor Strange’s cinematic roots will stay fairly true to the comics: he’s arrogant surgeon who gets into a car accident that destroys his hands, leading him to pursue a career in the mystic arts as an alternative method of healing. Steve Ditko, who created the character, should be feeling pretty good right now.
When the mystic Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton, punches Strange out of his own body in the trailer, it’s not some crazy ninja death move, but rather a way of forcing Strange into his astral form—where he can avoid physical damage and instantly traverse dimensions and distances. When Strange shows up in the comics he’s often just an apparition anyhow, projecting from the safety of his Sanctum Sanctorum and telling people what to do to save the world, so we should probably expect to see a lot of this Casper routine.
Early reports of Mads Mikkelsen’s character indicated that there were only two similarly-attired, purple-eyed followers in his thrall, but here we see at least four, which eliminates most of the early theories about him playing part of a notable evil Marvel trinity. It’s also probably pretty important to note here that Mads’ head was not actually on fire in the trailer, and he wasn’t wreathed by any bodily special effects, so our geekiest hopes for Mikkelsen playing Dormammu have seemingly been quashed.
The Escher-like landscapes that spin and twist in the Strange trailer seem like they’d be more appropriate for a Michel Gondry music video, but it stands to reason that this is how Marvel is choosing to visually interpret the travel between dimensions and planes, rather than just a fancy swirl of light and glitter. The origami approach is neat, but it only raises more questions about Mikkelsen’s character. He’s not actually twisting matter, but just exhibiting the same dimension-folding powers as the Ancient One. Who the heck is this guy, anyway? We’re sadly still no closer to an answer.
Mordo and Strange United
In the comics, Doctor Strange and Baron Mordo are archenemies who’ve been begrudging allies only in the best of times, with each competing for the respect and powers of the Ancient One. We’ve seen them together in a promotional still swiped from the set, but now we finally see them entering the Ancient One’s chambers together. Obviously, they’re uniting despite their philosophical differences to fight this new villain—but they’re still probably not friends.
We barely see Doctor Strange in his full, high-collared regalia, but we see him walking up some mysterious steps in the final moments of the trailer. This is what can probably be seen as the clip’s only real Easter Egg, as he’s approaching the very iconic shape of the window to his personal Sanctum Sanctorum.
As dedicated Doctor Strange readers know, the Sanctum is his personal headquarters, built on an ancient Native American burial ground in Greenwich Village (that’s where the best magical juices flow, obviously). By film’s close, it looks like Strange will have set up his creepy office.