By Hilton Collins
This past Saturday night, Marvel Studios debuted the second official trailer for Dr. Strange inside Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con. It was a noticeable upgrade from the first one we saw earlier this year. The initial footage was scant on special effects except for Inception-style imagery of buildings folding in on each other from different planes and angles. There was a lot of Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular hero, as well as Tilda Swinton as the new female version of the Ancient One, but you'd never know that anyone in the film was a magic user visually, and the trailer was scant on plot details, save for clips of Strange in his pre-wizard days being learning of a mystical world and how he must train to become a powerful spell caster. Why he has to do this and the reason for it were never stated.
Fast-forward to today, and Marvel's new Dr. Strange trailer is pretty, effects-laden affair with multiple characters, including the good doctor, wielding all kinds of magical goodness. Still not much to go on plot-wise, however, but the footage certainly looks befitting for a movie about Marvel's foremost mystical superhero. It's schedule for release in United States on Nov. 4, which isn't that far away, but audience members still don't know specifically much about the film's plot beyond its status as an origin story.
Regardless, the new trailer undoubtedly left an impression on Marvel movie fans, especially after the studio released it online right after its Hall H debut, where the whole world could see it. On Sunday morning, I went to the Marvel booth on the convention's exhibit room floor to gauge opinions.
Chris Rogers, 42, of San Diego, was cautiously optimistic. Marvel has a stellar track record when it comes to movie-making—they've made more than a dozen since 2008's Iron Man, and all of them have been financially successful—but Dr. Strange hasn't yet sold him on its quality.
"I worry. They've done everything else so well that I'm hopeful it won't be bad," Rogers said. But the trailer hasn't revealed how much the writers are paying attention to Strange's character development as a protagonist.
"They didn't really get into the character too much, and that's what makes Dr. Strange interesting. Who he was, who he becomes… they didn't really get into that too much with the character."
Uncertainty about plot or character development was the unanimous sentiment with everyone interviewed. In the film, Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Baron Karl Mordo, who appears to be Strange's friend in the trailer's scenes; however, as readers of the Dr. Strange comic book know, Baron Mordo is one of the Strange's most dangerous enemies. In the trailer, it appears that the villain is Mads Mikkelsen's character, Kaecilius, who's actually Mordo's henchman in the comics.
So in the movie, who's good and who's bad?
Robert Armatys, 23, also of San Diego, felt like he knew, but he wasn't sure he was happy with the knowledge. According to Armatys, Mordo may start out as Strange's ally but become his adversary as the plot thickens. That's reminiscent of the dynamic between Hal Jordan, DC Comics's most famous Green Lantern, and his arch-nemesis Sinestro. In the Warner Bros. 2011 Green Lantern film, Sinestro starts out as a fractious compatriot to Hal Jordan, but he certainly doesn't stay that way.
"I'm afraid it's going to be kind of like a Green Lantern story where his best friend's going to become Sinestro, and people are going to start complaining," Armatys said. "They're going to be like, 'We want something original. Don't give us something from DC.'"
Holland Page, 23, of San Francisco, was also iffy on the bad guy and overall plot, but she has faith because Marvel Studios hasn't let her down yet with their movies. Initially, she didn't 2014's Captain America: Winter Soldier was going to be any good, but she loved it once she saw it.
"Every time I've had the thought that a movie's going to be bad for Marvel, I feel like it's going to actually succeed my expectations," Page said.
Both she and Armatys have high hopes for the movie, despite the vagueness of the plot or character development in the trailers. But Armatys's faith is so powerful, it shoves away doubt with Hulk-like strength. He thought the trailer itself was fantastic in almost every way, and he's happy that Marvel has finally brought magic to its cinematic universe, which opens to the door for other supernatural characters to find their way to the big screen.
"Loki can now really do the magic that we all know he can do from the comics," he said. "You can now do these great characters that we've been wanting. [People] were like, 'Okay Marvel, give us something other than the generic inside-the-box character.' I'm more than psyched."
The "strangeness" of the supernatural is something everyone expects from Dr. Strange's inaugural silver screen adventure—much more than most other superhero movies—and many of them couldn't be happier.
"I think it will be a lot weirder than a lot of the other ones," Page said. "Do I think it will be bad? No. I think it will actually be really good."