Doctor Strange is about a year away yet, but many such as myself are paying close attention to the casting of characters, as they could give hints about the stories themselves.
Doctor Strange is a very story-based character, most known for specific story lines in his character, as opposed to a character-based character like Spider-Man, who is most known for his villains and friends. We can therefore hope to determine specifics about the story of the movie based on which characters are involved, because many of them are specific to certain storylines that could be adapted.
So who all is involved in the Doctor Strange movie?
Benedict Cumberbatch – Doctor Strange (Stephen Strange)
The Good Doctor himself, British Actor Benedict Cumberbatch is set to play the titular character. Doctor Strange becomes Sorceror Surpreme in the Marvel Universe. There are some who suggest that perhaps the story will not be an origin story, but rather “jump right in”. I would point out that this is exactly what Steve Ditko did when creating Strange. He introduced the character and went through a couple stories before reverting and telling an origin for the character. That original origin didn’t even contain Strange as a neurosurgeon or damaged hands. All that came later.
All that to say, Strange will be in any Strange story told.
Tilda Swinton – The Ancient One
The Ancient One was the teacher of mystic arts to Doctor Strange. The original Sorcerer Supreme, he was a mentor figure for years with Strange, eventually dying in the 70’s and passing his mantel to Strange.
The presence of the Ancient One hints at an origin story or perhaps Eternity Saga, which is hailed as the greatest Doctor Strange story of all time, or perhaps even one of the greatest storylines in the Silver Age as a whole (the 60’s, namely).
Chiwetel Ejiofor – Baron Mordo
Aside from just having a hard to pronounce name, Ejiofor will be playing one of the antagonists of the film. Mordo is basically the anti-Strange, clashing with Strange at dozens of instances. He is one of the reoccurring villains to Strange.
Mordo is not specific to any storyline, but he did play exceptionally large rolls in the Eternity Saga and the origin story, but it’s almost hard to have a Doctor Strange movie at all without Mordo.
Mads Mikkelson – In talks for unconfirmed roll
This Hannibal and Casino Royal star is not officially signed on just yet. He is in talks with Marvel for an antagonist roll. There are some key theories, of course.
The primary one says that Mikkelson is in talks to play Dormammu, a sort of Satan-figure in Marvel that is constantly seeking to conquer the Earth. This would be a drastic change for the character of Dormammu, who has always been loud and boastful, as opposed to the subdued nature of Mikkelson’s rolls.
There are other theories as well, such as Nightmare (a villain who controls the dream realms and actually the villain of Doctor Strange’s first appearance ever), or a few other sorcerers that have troubled Strange in the past. Frankly, there aren’t many famous villains of Strange.
If Mikkelson is set to play Dormammu, it would lend credence to the idea that the Eternity Saga is being adapted.
Rachel McAdams – Unconfirmed Roll
The Mean Girl herself, Rachel McAdams, is signed on for an unconfirmed roll.
Many suspected her of playing Strange’s primary love interest in the comics, Clea. If this were true, it would lend further credence to the Eternity Saga.
Recent rumors, however, have suggested that maybe McAdams is actually going to be playing a version of the Night Nurse. A character that should be familiar to viewers of Daredevil, the Night Nurse fixes up heroes for free. If McAdams were playing Night Nurse #2, essentially, then it would lend credence to the adaptation of the storyline “The Oath”. In which the Night Nurse is a big character.
So what are these storylines?
Now that we have taken a look at the known cast, what do these storylines actually mean?
The Origin – If this were an origin movie, Dr. Stephen Strange would be a surgeon whose hands are shattered. Unable to continue working, he scours the Earth to find a cure, which leads him to the Ancient One. Baron Mordo is a fellow student of the Ancient One and prevents Strange from revealing Mordo’s evil plans to the teacher. Eventually, Strange regains the use of his hands and becomes the best student of the Ancient One.
The Eternity Saga – Strange saves the life of Dormammu during their first battle (aided by Clea, who makes her first appearance here), leading to a vow that Dormammu makes to not invade the Earth while Strange lives. In an effort to kill Strange, Dormammu empowers Mordo with his own magical powers, making Mordo too powerful to defeat. Strange seeks the source of some great power, eventually coming face to face with the being known as Eternity, the physical embodiment of the Universe itself. It leads to an epic showdown between Mordo and Strange and eventually Strange and Dormammu himself. The story explores an interesting theme of Wisdom vs. Power.
The Oath – A newer take on Doctor Strange, The Oath is a murder-mystery in which Doctor Strange attempts to solve his own murder. He teams up with the Night Nurse and goes throughout much of the New York underworld to solve the mystery.
Of course, as fans of Marvel comics know, there is no such thing as a perfectly true adaptation. Elements are always subsistuted, replaced, or omitted in the adaptation of classic storylines (see Winter Soldier for the perfect example). There’s nothing to say that this will not be exactly the same case, where a storyline is roughly adapted or even made into a hybrid of another. While we can speculate as much as we want, for now only time will tell.