It can now be said with reasonable certainty that Marvel has yet another hit on its hands with Doctor Strange. With box office takings continuing to rise and critical reception largely positive in nature, Doctor Strange has succeeded in expanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe into new territories and introducing a new potential participant in the forthcoming bout against Thanos – in the form of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange.
One of the most widely praised elements of the movie was, of course, the visuals and director Scott Derrickson and visual effects supervisor Stef Ceretti conspired to effectively translate the magical, mind-bending world of Stephen Strange onto the big screen. Perhaps nowhere in the film is this more apparent than the scene in which The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) attempts to convince Strange, a man of reason and science, that his knowledge of the universe is drastically limited by sending him on a Magical Mystery Tour through a myriad of trippy visuals and psychedelia (read: the multiverse).
The final cut of the scene lasts only a few minutes but, speaking with Cinema Blend, Ceretti has now confirmed that a longer version clocking in at seven minutes was actually filmed. The VFX guru claims:
“The Magical Mystery Tour was a bunch of lines of The Ancient One telling Strange that the world that he knows is just a little piece of the world that really exists, so we tried to tie visuals to all these beats… There were tons of other things that didn’t make it in the script, with relationships with his past. The Magical Mystery Tour was seven minutes long! You can’t describe it with words. And that’s been the problem all along, there was no way to write it in the script. It was a visual script that we did. I put together a reel, and then we put it together with concept art, the pre-vis guys put it together with concepts I’d taken and made a story out of it. The editor came into the process early before we started to shoot. That doesn’t happen so much. We started to edit the Magical Mystery Tour before the other sequences of the film. So we had the editor editing the film before we shot it!”
Fans of Doctor Strange‘s distinctive visual style will no doubt be keen to see the original version of the scene and fortunately, with the seven minute cut committed to film, it’s entirely possible that the full sequence will be included as an extra when the movie is released on DVD and Blu-ray next year. Stef Ceretti’s comments do, however, go some way to demonstrating just how much thought and effort went into the creation of this unique, stand-out moment of the film.
Of course, filming a seven minute sequence of footage that looks like something The Beatles would have shot during their more ‘experimental’ years isn’t particularly common territory for a superhero movie. But many would argue that it is this alternative approach and level of risk-taking that has led to Doctor Strange‘s critical and commercial success in an era when the amount of superhero movies released per year is dangerously close – if not well past – saturation point.
With that said, many may argue that Derrickson and co. perhaps should have included the seven minute version of the Magical Mystery Tour scene in the final cut of the movie; certainly, given the reaction to the sequence, fans wouldn’t have minded spending a few more minutes exploring the intricacies of the multiverse. However, it’s very possible that had Doctor Strange gone all-out at this point in the movie, the impact of the “I’ve come to bargain” scene later on would have been considerably lessened – and with that moment itself attracting plenty of praise for depicting a hero winning with wits and intelligence, rather than a CGI battle, perhaps it was wise to save some of the multiverse madness for later on.
Doctor Strange is in theaters now.