The Doors of Perception
As with most Marvel films, Doctor Strange features a cameo from the one and only comic book genius Stan Lee.
During a battle within the Mirror Dimension in New York, Stephen Strange gets flung into a bus, where we see the aforementioned legend reading a rather peculiar book.
Tis book is “The Doors of Perception” by Aldoux Huxley, which details the author’s experience with mescaline, a psychedelic drug. This, of course, is a direct reference to the film’s trippy visual effects, inspired by the illustrations of Steve Ditko.
Right before his impending car crash that would turn the neurologist into the Sorcerer Supreme we know and love, doctor Strange is getting a few potential patients pitched to him.
One of those patients in particular rings a bell and has viewers speculating. The person in question is referred to as an Air Force colonel with a crushed spine, caused by experimental armor. Many embraced the idea that this could be Rhodey, seeing how he was recovering from a spinal injury following the events depicted in Captain America: Civil War.
However, early on in the film, we see Strange a few years in the past compared to other Marvel films, with the very ending of the movie being back in line with the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline. His last days as a doctor run somewhat parallel with Iron Man 2, meaning the injured soldier could very well be the poor man who got his spine twisted wearing one of Justin Hammer’s suits as seen in the courtroom scene in Iron Man 2.
Dormammu, do I know you?
Dormammu, the movie’s biggest bad guy, just so happens to be the ruler of the Dark Dimension. However, unlike his flaming comic book counterpart, this version looks a bit more… familiar.
First off, Dormammu bears a strong resemblance to the main Marvel Cinematic Universe villain Thanos. His purple face with vertical indents reminds us a lot of the Mad Titan, and while that’s likely coincidental, it’s still pretty neat to see on screen.
However, it’s Dormammu’s mo-cap actor that makes for one of the movie’s biggest and unlikeliest surprise cameos. Whereas the voice was delivered by an uncredited actor, Dormammu has been brought to life by none other than Benedict Cumberbatch himself, who also plays the titular Doctor Strange.
The producers stated this was done because Dormammu doesn’t really have a face in the Marvel comic books. Since he has no need for a physical appearance, they reckoned the villain would merely mimic the physique of the opposing party.
As I live and compile
Early on in the film, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Mordo is seen wielding the Staff of the Living Tribunal during Doctor Strange’s training phase. While this artifact itself doesn’t exist in the Marvel comic books, the name of the staff will sound familiar to fanatics.
The Living Tribunal is one of Marvel’s most powerful beings, since he’s the embodiment of the entire Multiverse. That’s right, The Living Tribunal is a sentient, humanoid collection of universes. If that doesn’t blow your mind, we don’t know what will.
Since The Living Tribunal solely interferes when the balance of the universe is threatened, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see him on-screen in his full glory. However, since Earth was about to get sucked up into the Dark Dimension throughout the course of this film, having a slight nod towards the entity seems only fitting.
Who do you voodoo, Strange?
There are three Sanctums tied to magic within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, each with its own Master to protect it. When Kaecilius attacks the New York based Sanctum, its master is referred to as Drumm, with a prequel comic confirming this is Daniel Drumm.
Comic book veterans may recognize that name, since Daniel is the brother of Jericho Drumm, better known as mystical superhero Brother Voodoo. Jericho frequently summons the spirit of his brother to aid him in his endeavors, and seeing how Daniel Drumm meets his demise at the hands of Kaecilius, it seems to foreshadow the arrival of Brother Voodoo in a possible sequel.
When the camera is soaring across the New York skyline, many viewers grow more and more excited to see the titular Stephen Strange appear in the very next shot, which he evidently does. Amidst all the buildings on screen, there was one that stood out above the rest.
A massive letter “A” can be seen proudly displayed at the side of a building, which is naturally the Avengers Tower that symbolizes the iconic group of Earth’s protectors, as well as housing the one and only Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man. There are multiple nods towards The Avengers, with Wong calling them out by name and the building making its second appearance during a massive action sequence.
Seeing how small of a detail this is, it’s easy to miss. However, Marvel likes to make sure viewers are aware that Doctor Strange is tied to the rest of the MCU.