[Note: By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, the following story contains major spoilers for the upcoming Doctor Strange movie. If you would prefer to remain ignorant of the mystical world that surrounds what you perceive as reality until you actually get to see the movie for yourself, feel free to get out of here now. You have been warned.]
Back when Mads Mikkelsen was first cast in Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange movie, there were a lot of questions about who he’d be playing. Thanks to some toys, we eventually discovered that he would be a magical dude named Kaecilius who gets involved in some dark scheme that makes his eyes look all spooky, but we had previously theorized that he’d be playing Dormammu, a flame-headed demon guy who is essentially one of the biggest heavy-hitters in the entire Marvel Universe. Well, as it turns out…
(Here’s your last spoiler warning.)
We were actually sort of right. Mikkelsen isn’t playing Dormammu, but his ultimate goal in the film is to summon the Dread Lord, and he ends up accomplishing that goal by the end of Doctor Strange. That would be a fun twist on its own, but Marvel and Derrickson took it one step further by having none other than Benedict Cumberbatch—Doctor Strange himself—do the physical performance for Dormammu. Derrickson dropped that information himself in an interview with IGN, explaining that Cumberbatch thought it would interesting if this all-powerful demon took on Strange’s form to communicate with the mortals who had summoned him.
This most likely means that Dormammu will be played by someone other than Cumberbatch if he pops up again the MCU, but it saves Marvel the trouble of finding a big name to attach to the role for now. Plus, as Derrickson explains in the interview, there are some thematic reasons for Strange and Dormammu to have this connection, so having him adopt Strange’s likeness actually makes sense for the story.
We’ll get to see Cumberbatch with a magical cape and a flaming head when Doctor Strange opens in the United States on November 4.