‘Avengers’ star Benedict Cumberbatch reveals the secret behind Marvel’s success

The British actor shares what to expect from his character, Doctor Strange, in the newest ‘Avengers’ instalment

Doctor Strange and Wong
Doctor Strange and Wong
09 Apr 2018

Doctor Strange and Wong

Photos: Marvel, TPG

It’s been six years since the first Avengers blockbuster and its #squadgoals assembly of superheroes burst onto the scene (and, believe it or not, a full decade since Iron Man, the first in the Marvel Cinematic Universe roster of films, was released), and the universe has only expanded exponentially since then.

This month, the third – and possibly second last – film in the celebrated, billion dollar-grossing Avengers franchise finally hits theatres, and it promises “the ultimate, deadliest showdown of all time” involving pretty much every character we’ve ever been introduced to banding together to try and take down the powerful Titan warlord Thanos.

One of those joining the mighty mass of all-star saviours is Doctor Strange, who – according to Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor who plays him – “comes pretty well equipped in some extraordinary situations” compared to when he was still discovering his potential in his origin story.

“There’s a bit of a leap between who we know Doctor Stephen Strange to be by the end of the first film (2016’s Doctor Strange) and this,” the British actor shared in an exclusive Q&A. For instance, in Infinity War, he is “very composed”, said Benedict, “Even in the worst moments of adversity, he’s the one who’s a step ahead.”

Infinity War is also where we get to see Doctor Strange and Iron Man (or Tony Stark), two brilliant but – let’s face it – egotistical men, become acquainted…for better or worse.

“Initially, Stephen Strange thinks that Tony Stark is a complete jerk who is just lost in the idea that he’s his own brilliant answer to everything,” said Benedict. “So there are a couple of moments where he knocks him down, and there are other moments where he just stands there taking all this kind of adolescent rage and impotent ego into play.”

(Continued on next slide: Benedict Cumberbatch ticks off bucket list of dream co-stars with ‘Infinity War’)

Doctor Strange, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner and Wong
Doctor Strange, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner and Wong
09 Apr 2018

Doctor Strange, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner and Wong

Fortunately, this complicated relationship of theirs doesn’t develop into another Civil War­-like situation. “Through adversity, a lot of mutual respect, feeling and understanding evolves,” Benedict added. “They’ve gone on a journey together by the end of the film.”

Benedict’s impression of Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr., on the other hand, was positive from the start. “I was really excited about working with Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Pratt (Peter Quill from the Guardians of the Galaxy). Also Tom Holland (Spider-Man), because I’ve worked with him before, and we got excited about this potentially bringing us together,” he gushed.

“Actually, I had a bit of a bucket list. It was just great,” he continued. “All of them are exactly the kind of people you want to be working with. Funny characters who are very true, very strong, very full of themselves, and good at what they do.”

We guess we would be saying the exact same thing if we got to work with this epic of a crossover cast.

Read on as Benedict shares his thoughts on working with the Russo brothers, why he thinks the Marvel universe is so popular, and more. And nope, no word on what happens to Doctor Strange’s Infinity Stone – or if it ends up in the grubby hands of Thanos. Guess we’ll have to watch the movie to find out about that.​​​​​​​

Wong
Wong
09 Apr 2018

Wong

What did you think about getting the call to do Infinity War?

To think that I’d be part of this amazing assembly is really exciting. I was really thrilled when I heard that a lot of my stuff was going to be with Robert Downey Jr. It made sense to set them head to head and try and fuse out of their very strong personalities some kind of coherent collaboration.

Set up your introduction scene.

At the beginning of the movie, Wong (played by Benedict Wong) and Doctor Strange are going about a daily routine when they find out that Thanos is coming. It’s an imminent threat, and they have to assemble Stark and get his help, and hopefully Steve Rogers (or Captain America, played by Chris Evans), too.

Was it nice to have Benedict Wong with you again?

Absolutely. Wong, the character, is growing into a sidekick, but Benny and I have known each other for a long time. We just keep pinching each other going, “Mate, I can’t believe this. This is insane.” And it is. It’s crazy for both of us to realise where we are and what we’re doing, and Benny’s created such a good character. It’s really nice to know he’s there.

(Continued on next slide: Benedict praises Anthony and Joe Russo, the directors)

Thanos
Thanos
09 Apr 2018

Thanos

What does your character feel about Thanos?

My character is one of the only ones that truly states what Thanos’s intentions are to him and reminds him about what is wrong with the idea of mass extinction. Strange feels very, very passionately that this entity has to be stopped at all costs.

Thanos has been building for a while now. It’s really chilling and has a great deal of presence and power. I think people will get a real kick out of seeing what Thanos is trying to do in this film and how we attempt to bring him to a full stop.

Talk about working with Anthony and Joe Russo, the directors.

Working with them is a real joy. They make you feel very confident about your choices and how they’re going to affect that moment, the one before, and the one after. So they’re brilliant, very fast, very smart, and very funny. They know the characters really well and, most importantly, they know exactly what they want to get out of them for this story.

(Continued on next slide: Benedict shares what - or who - he thinks is the secret to Marvel's success)

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo; Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo; Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige
09 Apr 2018

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo; Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige

What is the secret sauce in this universe to remain to popular?

That’s really simple: it’s [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige. He is a studio head, producer, business leader and fan boy who knows the industry and has basically been the taste monitor of all of these films. He allows artists from outside of the comic realm to come in and influence the films with their vision, while maintaining a house style, for it to evolve. It’s a very particular world, but he’s the master of it.

Is it fun to dig into more of an emotional arc with heart?

Absolutely, so that you have some real-world problems amongst the superhero problems, which are less relatable sometimes. The more real the dilemmas are, the more you care about the jeopardy that these characters endure. You invest, so the losses are bigger as an impact on the audience as well as the fellow characters.

What do you enjoy the most about coming into this world?

The thing I enjoy most is that you can work with a stunt team that’s world class, trained martial arts experts, wire teams that have been doing it for 30-odd years, choreographers and movement experts, and then you get to amalgamate this character through that and the costume and the input of brilliant makeup designers.

When you’ve got that many people pooling their resources and talent together it’s really something to enjoy. There’s still pressure on you to manifest all that stuff and make it one coherent whole, but you get a lot of help getting there, and that’s exciting.

Click through for more stills from 'Avengers: Infinity War'!

The Avengers charge into battle
The Avengers charge into battle
09 Apr 2018

The Avengers charge into battle

Okoye, Black Panther, Captain America, Black Widow, Bucky Barnes (who will be known as White Wolf)
Okoye, Black Panther, Captain America, Black Widow, Bucky Barnes (who will be known as White Wolf)
09 Apr 2018

Okoye, Black Panther, Captain America, Black Widow, Bucky Barnes (who will be known as White Wolf)

Tony Stark
Tony Stark
09 Apr 2018

Tony Stark

Iron Man
Iron Man
09 Apr 2018

Iron Man

The Guardians of the Galaxy
The Guardians of the Galaxy
09 Apr 2018

The Guardians of the Galaxy

Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Peter Parker/Spider-Man
09 Apr 2018

Peter Parker/Spider-Man

Spider-Man
Spider-Man
09 Apr 2018

Spider-Man

Thor, Rocket and Groot
Thor, Rocket and Groot
09 Apr 2018

Thor, Rocket and Groot

Black Panther
Black Panther
09 Apr 2018

Black Panther

Bruce Banner (in non-Hulk form)
Bruce Banner (in non-Hulk form)
09 Apr 2018

Bruce Banner (in non-Hulk form)

Loki
Loki
09 Apr 2018

Loki

Avengers: Infinity War opens in cinemas on April 25. Watch the trailer here.

Catch Robert Downey Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, Karen Gillan and director Joe Russo at the Avengers: Infinity War Red Carpet Fan Event on April 16, 7.30pm at the Event Plaza, Marina Bay Sands.

The event is free to the public, but due to venue capacity limitations, fans are required to register for access. For more information, visit www.MarinaBaySands.com/Avengers.

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