Doctor Strange is one of the most visually stunning entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie boasts tremendous effects, but much of its visual appeal comes from the minimalist magic employed by The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and her students, including Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Its distinctive look and feel would certainly lend itself to equally vibrant concept art.
Previously-released or leaked concept art for Doctor Strange has given a look at the early looks of some of the characters, including an unused design of Kaecilius’ (Mads Mikkelsen) zealots, an early concept for Dormammu, and a preliminary drawing of Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) that’s fairly close to the costume that ultimately appeared in the movie. A freshly released batch of Doctor Strange concept art shows some other interesting early character designs, but they are part of more fully-realized renderings of some of its most memorable scenes.
Los Angeles-based artist Ryan Lang posted a series of works that he did for Doctor Strange on his ArtStation page, revealing keyframes of important scenes that are strikingly similar to what ended up in the final version of the movie. The artwork mostly captures Doctor Strange’s fight scenes with Kaecilius and other sorcerers in the Mirror Dimension and the climactic battle scene in Hong Kong. One interesting concept shows The Ancient One, who ended up being bald, with an exceedingly long ponytail, while another shows Doctor Strange riding a crystallized version of a Penrose triangle, presumably while in the Mirror Dimension.
The only major differences between the keyframes and the final movie are the concepts of some of the characters, like the aforementioned Ancient One and a bald version of Kaecilius. Lang’s concepts also depict Doctor Strange battling a sorcerer in a suit, brandishing a kitana. Lang is credited as a visual development artist for Big Hero 6 on IMDb. His ArtStation page also includes concept art for Moana and Wreck-It Ralph, in addition to fan art of Batman, Predator, Iron Man, and many other iconic characters.
Lang’s renderings of the magic weapons conjured by Doctor Strange and Kaecilius ended up strikingly similar to the visuals that ended up in the movie. That his concepts for the visual effects made it into the finished movie virtually unchanged is certainly impressive. He deserves some credit for creating what turned out to be some of the best visuals ever seen in a Marvel film.
While many of the designs in Lang’s concept art were similar to the final versions, much of the concept art was quite different as well. It could create feelings of regret or disappointment if the concept is considered better than the finished design. But Lang’s artwork for Doctor Strange, whether or not it ended up in the movie itself, is still as stunning as what did make it to the big screen.