Doctor Strange has a lot going for it right now. It recently became Marvel Studios’ highest-grossing solo adventure when it passed Iron Man’s worldwide box office total, it garnered some of the best reviews of any Marvel movie, and its outstanding visual effects appear bound for awards season success. Much of Doctor Strange’s visual appeal comes from the vision of director Scott Derrickson, who graduated from supernatural horror to big-budget supernatural superheroes and delivered his best work yet.
It’s clear why Derrickson, who previously directed Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, was a good choice for Doctor Strange. He created a world whose tone balances the surreal with the stark and the cosmic with the conscious. Visually, Derrickson and Industrial Light & Magic also made deft use of practical effects as the movie mostly used CGI only when necessary, a technique that only helped make the movie’s wildly vibrant computer effects pop even more.
Derrickson gave a peek behind the curtain when he shared to his Twitter page a set photo of Doctor Strange’s evil “Dark Dimension,” where the title character (Benedict Cumberbatch) comes to bargain with immortal supervillain Dormammu in the movie’s climactic scene. The photo offers a view of the set, which includes props surrounded by colored lights projected through video screens. Only two green-screens are visible and are tucked into the background.
The Doctor Strange set photo is the first shared by Derrickson since the movie’s release. He must have a particular fascination with the Dark Dimension, considering his horror background and that his Twitter header photo shows Doctor Strange floating through the dimension during his first meeting with The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). The photo is as close to stripped-down as you will see Doctor Strange from a behind-the-scenes perspective.
It’s stunning to see a scene as lush and colorful as Doctor Strange’s climax in the twisting, boundless Dark Dimension reduced to a tiny set with simple screens and lighting rigs. But it also gives an idea of why Doctor Strange is so visually powerful; Derrickson’s lighting techniques made Cumberbatch look more natural within the dimension and its striking color palette. It’s one small example of the movie’s many wondrous visual feats.
Derrickson’s set photo will likely generate excitement for more special features to come in Doctor Strange Blu-ray releases down the road. A simple photo showing the Dark Dimension set from a distance certainly does not do justice to the work that he and the ILM visual effects team did to make Doctor Strange look so great and become such a game-changer for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s an intriguing behind-the-scenes taste that will only that more secrets of Doctor Strange be revealed.