What ‘Huge New Element’ Will Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange Bring To The Marvel Universe?

Marvel’s Doctor Strange feature won’t hit the big screen for almost two years, but Benedict Cumberbatch is already preparing to take on the cape and chaos magic of Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme. And Cumberbatch says that Doctor Strange will introduce an entirely new facet of the Marvel Universe, a “huge new element.”

By the time that Benedict Cumberbatch was confirmed as Marvel’s Doctor Strange, the casting was barely even news any more. Cumberbatch had been rumored to take on the role of Stephen Strange for months by then, in one of the rare leaks out of the House of Ideas, but the actor’s acceptance of the role of Marvel’s mightiest mystic was unconfirmed until recently, presumably due to contract negotiations and scheduling concerns. With those out of the way, though, Cumberbatch has started to talk a bit about what we can expect from his Doctor Strange, and the fan-favorite actor seems excited to be taking on the master of the mystic arts.

“I don’t think it’s a risk,” Cumberbatch told the Wall Street Journal recently, “because of Marvel. Marvel is a stable of bringing out ordinary comic characters and turning them into screen-like gods.”

That’s a solid vote of confidence on Cumberbatch’s part, but it’s not as if we haven’t seen similarly kind things said about Marvel by other giants of the screen. Hardly a week goes by without some recognizable movie star expressing either admiration for Marvel’s movies, or a desire to appear in them. It’s the other stuff that Cumberbatch has to say about what Doctor Strange will bring to the screen that has us intrigued.

“It’s very different,” Cumberbatch continued, explaining what we can expect with Doctor Strange, “it’s an Astral Plane. There’s a huge new element to this Marvel universe that’s going to be employed in building this story and character.”

Now that’s interesting. A “huge new element,” you say? The Astral Plane, you say?

For the uninitiated, the Astral Plane is a sort of under-universe that exists in the Marvel comics, a connective tissue underlying the physical universe, one in which telepaths and sorcerers can project themselves, converse, and even do battle. It’s the way that Doctor Strange or Professor X can be thousands of miles away from someone and still communicate with them, and its introduction in the Marvel Cinematic Universe just confirms what we’ve thought for quite some time: things are just going to get weirder.

There’s the question, though, of whether the Astral Plane is the “huge new element” that Cumberbatch says Doctor Strange will introduce, or whether there will be even more changes to the MCU once Doctor Strange is released. It’s possible that Cumberbatch is referring to the element of magic in general. Magic has been dealt with to an extent – Thor says that, in his world, magic and science are the same thing – but the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been heavy on the science so far, whereas the mystic underpinnings have fallen largely by the wayside.

How much will that change going forward? Magic will certainly play a central role in Doctor Strange, which hits theaters in November of 2016, and it could be an element at play in Black Panther, as the Panther God at the center of that film has a mystical element to it. Just how often we can expect to see the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth and Shuma-Gorath popping up in the future, though, is something we’ll have to just wait and see.

[Lead image via HellHorror]