Behind the Scenes of 'Doctor Strange': From Marvel Concept Art to Benedict Cumberbatch's NYC Battles

About a year ago, I sat down with Stan Lee and asked him which of his “lesser-known” Marvel heroes did he wish had a higher profile among mainstream fans. He didn’t hesitate with his answer: “He will be very well known because they’re going to make a movie of him and that’s Doctor Strange. One of the characters I did. I like him as much as all the others, but for some reason [he hasn’t remained popular] … In the beginning, [Marvel producers] didn’t include him on the list of characters they wanted to make a movie of,” Lee said. “But I campaigned for him.”

On Nov. 4, Doctor Strange will bring magic into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From his Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenwich Village, the Sorcerer Supreme, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, will battle mystic forces unlike anything faced by the Avengers. We’ve pulled together a detailed look at the making of the movie, from the early conceptual art to the final scenes shot in New York City before filming wrapped earlier this week.

Character Concept Art

This was one of the first publicly released looks at Doctor Stephen Strange, included as part of a DVD/Blu-ray bonus feature on an MCU gift set released in December and introducing the character. “What you can expect from this Doctor Strange movie is a mind-trip action film,” said director Scott Derrickson.(Photo: Marvel)

The Doctor Is In

In early January, Marvel released several images of Cumberbatch in full costume, complete with signature cape and Eye of Agamotto amulet. (Photo: Marvel)


“Benedict has a complicated emotional structure going on,” says Derrickson of his star. (Photo: Marvel)

Origin Story

The film will tell Strange’s backstory: A brilliant, but egotistical neurosurgeon suffers a debilitating accident and travels the world in search for a cure. He winds up meeting the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), who mentors him in the mystical arts. (Photo: Marvel)

By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!

Strange comes by his name honestly, as this concept art shows. “One of the things that’s important to us in telling a magical story is keeping it grounded,” producer Stephen Broussard says in the MCU holiday gift set bonus feature, “but still leaving enough room to have really cool and unique visual ideas to explore.” (Photo: Marvel)

Strange HQ

This concept art reveals the Sanctum Sanctorum, the magical home base of the good doctor. In the comics, it’s located in his penthouse in New York’s Greenwich Village. (Photo: Marvel)

Inner Sanctum

Protecting Strange’s powerful relics contained in his home is the character Wong (Benedict Wong), a valet who dabbles in the occult and can kick ass when needed. (Photo: Marvel)

Magic Man

This promotional image gives an idea of what Strange will look like tapping into his mystical powers. (Photo: Marvel)

Un-caped Crusader

The Sorcerer Supreme could use a Band-Aid. For the final days of filming, Cumberbatch & Co. took to the streets of New York, where onlookers snapped pics of the action. (Photo: Steve Sands/GC Images)

Frenemy No. 1

Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Mordo, another student of the Ancient One who eventually becomes Strange’s villainous rival. However, based on the set photos, Strange and Mordo will spend at least part of the film working together. (Photo: Splash News)

The Eyes Have It

Mads Mikkelsen plays the chief villain, who some have speculated is Dormammu, a Doctor Strange nemesis from another dimension in the comics, or possibly someone corrupted by Dormammu. Producers have indicated that his character was a former disciple of the Ancient One who forms his own sect. He’s seen here on set with actress Zara Phythian. (Photo: Splash News)

Strange Days Indeed

Benedict Cumberbatch is either rushing to fight a bad guy or in search of that elusive bandage. (Photo: Splash)

Taking Direction

Derrickson and Cumberbatch plan out the action during the final day’s shoot.(Photo: Splash News)

Taking Flight

Strange and Mordo, chased by one of the wild-eyed bad guys, appear to be airborne during filming April 2. (Photo: Splash News)

Killing Time

Mad-Eye Mikkelsen mills about in between scenes. (Photo: Splash News)

Dig Those Crazy Hands

Time is of the essence as Mordo and Strange race down a Manhattan street on April 3. (Photo: Splash News)

“That’s a Wrap!”

Derrickson posted this image on April 3 to mark the end of principal photography. He and the cast paid a visit to JHU Comics (aka Hanley’s) to celebrate. (@scottderrickson/Twitter)

Meta Moment

Cumberbatch picks up a little reading material in this pic tweeted out by Marvel. (Photo: @Marvel/Twitter)

A Meme Is Born

Comic nerds no doubt lost their collective mind when this happened on April 3. (Photo: @Massawyrm/Twitter)

Enough With the Hands

Derrickson tweeted out this image of himself with stars Cumberbatch and Ejiofor as shooting came to a close, noting that Ejiofor was covering up Cumberbatch’s “Doctor Strange gesture.” (Photo: Scott Derrickson/Twitter)