‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’: The Wisdom of Wong and Charisma of Benedict Wong
"He brings to Stephen Strange a part of humanity that Stephen Strange is blind to."
Since his debut in Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in 2016, Benedict Wong has demonstrated why the former guardian of the Kamar-Taj library is worthy of the Sorcerer Supreme post, and a powerful ally not just for Doctor Strange, but for the entire Multiverse.
Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness sees Benedict Wong stepping into the spotlight alongside Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays master of the mystic arts, Doctor Strange.
Speaking of the mystic allies, Cumberbatch explained to Marvel.com, “Wong and Strange have a great partnership; they’ve got a great double act. They’ve got a great sort of synchronicity, energy, synergy, and understanding of one another.”
The depth and appeal of the character Wong is due largely to Wong’s craft of an actor adept in balancing drama and comedy. This was something that appealed to director Sam Raimi. “Benedict Wong is a great guy and a great actor, and I just love having him on set,” praised Raimi. “He’s a fantastic presence, and he brings to Stephen Strange a part of humanity that Stephen Strange is blind to, or one that Benedict Wong’s character is awakening him to.”
Elaborating on Wong’s presence, Raimi noted, “He’s the Sorcerer Supreme. He commands Kamar-Taj, the armies there, the students. We gave him some great moments that he rose to occasion of…all for the greater good. At the same time, he reminded Strange of the humanity that exists within him, and was always someone who wasn’t afraid to make fun of Strange a little bit. In fact, he holds a higher position, so he’s justified in doing that. Strange might be a little jealous that he isn’t the Sorcerer Supreme, and Wong doesn’t mind rubbing that in every now and then.”
How does Wong feel about reprising this role in his sixth theatrical appearance? “He’s like an old glove, a friendly old glove,” revealed Wong. “We’re always kind of interweaving back and forth through all these movies. He’s the national treasure that keeps on giving. He’s always jet-setting off somewhere else, but it’s good that we can have the time with him, in a short space of time."
“I love Wong; I love writing Wong because there's a dry sense of humor that is somehow even drier than Strange’s, and Strange is the ultimate undercutter,” added film scribe Michael Waldron. “Wong is coming in and undercutting the undercuts. Watching these guys out-duel one another is so much fun. Benny Wong is such a great, generous actor."
“He has such a strong perspective on what it means for Wong to be the Sorcerer Supreme,” continued Waldron. “He takes that role very seriously. We wanted to advance Wong’s character from where he was in the first movie. He’s the Sorcerer Supreme now, and he has assumed a major role of leadership in Kamar-Taj. He’s lived five years that Stephen didn’t live — half a decade, a pretty hard decade. He’s a different guy in that he’s just a little more battle hardened and everything.
Waldron revealed how Wong presented a deep contrast on the film’s antagonist, Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch. “Wong represents kind of the enlightened version of what Wanda has gone through,” stated Waldron. “Wong, like Wanda, has suffered loss, but understands that in other universes he might be happy. There is comfort in knowing that in those other universes, other versions of you might be okay. He looks at the Multiverse, not as a treasure chest to be pillaged, but as something beautiful to be admired, and to take comfort and solace from.”
Waldron also highlighted the Wong and Strange dynamic as a core element of the film. “We can pick right up on their Odd Couple friendship,” noted Waldron, which Wong loved picking up again. “People get a chance to see Strange and Wong as this duo,” said Wong. “Obviously, the dynamics sort of change now as Strange has gone from student to borrowing books at the library to realizing Wong has now become the Sorcerer Supreme.”
What makes the Wong and Strange relationship special are the two Benedicts behind the roles. Cumberbatch credits his personal friendship with Wong in aiding Wong and Strange’s dynamic. “This is a lovely deepening of that friendship, that relationship,” shared Cumberbatch. “Benny Wong is just a joy, and we’ve known each other for a long time even before we got this gig. So we’re still looking at each other every now and again going, ‘Mate, mate.’ ‘I know, yeah, I know.’ It’s always nice when you have a friend. It’s a continuum both beyond the project with those two characters. That’s a joy.”
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