DOCTOR STRANGE to be “Marvel’s FANTASIA” Says Cinematographer Ben Davis

     August 5, 2015


Marvel’s Doctor Strange is currently in pre-production since its November 4, 2016 release date is well over a year away, but cinematographer Ben Davis is talking about the film’s visual style right now. Director Scott Derrickson’s take on the Sorcerer Supreme, aka Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), appears to be going in a somewhat surreal and fantastic direction if Davis’ comments on the film’s palette are any indication. That should come as a relief to fans of the comic book since it’s in lockstep with the medium’s appearance and story.

As ScreenDaily reports, Davis, who was also the cinematographer on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron, spoke about his next superhero film during the BAFTA Masterclass in London. He briefly described how the look of Doctor Strange will differ from previous movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and revealed his take on it:


Image via Marvel Comics

“It has a very psychedelic grounding, and it’s not your typical Marvel action movie … Most of the work within it is about other dimensions. And I described it, I think, when I was talking to Marvel as Marvel’s Fantasia, in a way, because it’s so sort of out there and different to everything else that they’ve done.”

There’s a lot to chew on in those few sentences even if it has little to do with the film’s actual plot. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the words “psychedelic” and “grounding” used to modify each other like that, but it’s good to know the mystical, magical Marvel movie won’t be sticking to “grounded realism.” But with all that surrealism floating across the screen, there’s sure to be a fair amount of CG work in play, which Davis addresses as follows:

“There’s a lot of previsualisation, and there’s a lot of work which is very hard – you look at it and you see the imagery that they’ve created for it and you think, ‘Well how the hell do we shoot that!?’ because it’s all sort of Escher stuff.


Image via Marvel Comics

OK he might have just won me over with the “Escher stuff” quote before I’ve even seen anything from the movie. It sounds like a fantastic sandbox to get to play in, and that Davis is up to the task. He closed out his comments by talking about just how dark the palette of the film will be:

“It’s all very out there. I can’t really say much more about it, I’m afraid. But I think it’ll be really interesting, and it’s a very dark movie, I’m pleased to say … DP’s always love the word ‘dark’. The trouble is that most producers don’t like dark. Mostly you get into DI [Digital Intermediate process] and people don’t seem to like dark anymore!”

Producers might not like it, but I’m sure a dark tone is exactly what this movie calls for, especially considering the plot centers around a gifted but arrogant neurosurgeon who loses use of his hands after a car accident. Not exactly a light-hearted, fun-filled tale. So far, so good for Marvel’s Silver Age hero.

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