The villain of Doctor Strange, Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius, has been a bit of a mystery as the film has built interest coming up to release. The character is not a classic Doctor Strange villain and many fans had never heard of the character before. The trailers have also shied away from sharing too much about the identity or plan of the character. Now that set visit reports are starting to be published, Marvel is beginning to reveal a bit more about the character. One such visit, by ScreenRant, had Marvel Films president Kevin Feige sharing some information. In particular, viewers should expect to see Kaecilius as a mirror of Strange in some ways.
That news will frustrate many fans who hate the Marvel tendency to make villains a reflection of the hero. Writers have used the tactic frequently, including the Iron Man/Ironmonger, Hulk/Abomination, and Ant-Man/Yellowjacket pairs. Isn’t there another way to make a comic movie than pitting like against like? Yes, but the early films lend themselves to that approach, even if fans don’t love it.
Clearly we will get to that [non-doppelganger match ups]… You want to have characters that inhabit the same world when introducing a new world, a new mythology for lack of a better term. You want to explore that as much as you can.
When you’re teaching an audience about sorcerers and that reality and you’re going to talk about the past anyway and you’re going to get into their history anyway, much better to tie-in your bad guy with that instead of laying all this groundwork of parallel dimensions and sorcery and say, by the way, a meteor hit on the other side of the world, it went under the water, and this evil thing developed. What does that have to do with magic? Nothing… That’s not the way we’ve developed them up to this point.
For all the complaints about Marvel’s villains, the studio also has avoided a major error of other comic films: doing too much. Feige’s logic here is simple. The audience has to take on a lot of exposition and learn a new universe with many of these films. In Doctor Strange it will be magic, in Ant-Man it was shrinking and insects and the quantum realm, in Iron Man it was military tech, and so on. Making the villain a mirror image is a way of doubling up the background stories. If hero and nemesis come from the same general place it allows the writers to streamline the story. Creating a meaningful origin for a protagonist, and then a completely separate origin for the antagonist would make a really heavy film. As is, some complain that Michael Douglas in Ant-Man, for example, spent more time talking about shrinking than Paul Rudd spent shrinking. Had the villain had powers from some other cosmic, mystical, scientific source then the writers would have to add a bunch of material to explain that to the audience.
For this writer, the explanation makes a lot of sense. While the mirror image villain thing is old, when one compares an MCU movie to some other franchises it is easy to see times when films died because they writers were setting up four different issues. An example might be Amazing Spider-Man 2, where the film-makers had to explain the Parker family espionage, the Osborne family illnesses, the origin of Electro, and the romantic dynamic between Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker. All those storylines got short shrift because there was just too much in the movie. Feige has consciously avoided that by doubling up on hero and villain origins, and it appears that Doctor Strange will do that again. (None of this excuses the ways Marvel repeats the problem in sequels like Iron Man 2, however.)
What do you think? Does this reasoning make sense, or is it just Marvel making excuses for poor writing? Does it bother you to see the mirror villain return in Doctor Strange? Do you think Mikkelsen can lift the character above other villains in the franchise? Share your thoughts below.
Doctor Strange featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Tilda Swinton, and Mikkelsen will come to theaters on November 4.
Source: Screen Rant