If you've been keeping your ear to the Marvel Cinematic Universe pulse then likely you've heard the entirely plausible news that the identity of Mads Mikkelsen's mystery villain in the upcoming Doctor Strange has finally been revealed.
Yes, according to a character description from the Marvel Minimates Series 70 Doctor Strange Movie Pack, Mikkelsen will be stepping into the shoes of that iconic Marvel villain named... Kaecilius?
Kaecilius In The Doctor Strange Comics
Okay, I lied. Kaecilius is far from being a formidable villain, rather he's just a footnote in the history of Doctor Stephen Strange, appearing in a few issues of Strange Tales back in the 1960s as a background henchman and vessel of Baron Mordo. You can click on over here if you want to read more about him and how he fits in the Strange mythology.
It does seem a little odd at first glance, doesn't it? Especially when you get an actor as talented as Mikkelsen on board — it would be like bringing in Judi Dench to mop floors. As I previously wrote, it's likely that the identity of Kaecilius is being used as a placeholder — by using a character possessing very little comic book history the filmmakers can develop him any way they wish, giving themselves huge creative freedom.
But, it could be that Kaecilius was chosen precisely for the specifics of his minor role in the comics. We're entering theory territory now, so put your speculative hats on before we go any further.
Kaecilius In Strange Tales
When you consider the function Kaecilius plays when he's first introduced way back in Strange Tales, we might be able to glean a theory for why this character in particular was chosen.
When Kaecilius first pops up he's ordered by Baron Mordo to enlist some dodgy mercenaries to help him search the globe for Doctor Strange, who is in hiding after a powered-up Mordo attempted to off both Strange and the Ancient One (that's kinda Mordo's jam).
In this instance Mordo melds his mind with Kaecilius's before sending him out. This means that, though Kaecilius still control of his body, Mordo is able to see and hear through his eyes, command him telepathically, and project images of himself to demonstrate his power to others. In the majority of Kaecilius's appearances it's very important to note that this possession is employed, presumably because Baron Mordo is just incredibly lazy and doesn't like leaving the house.
We see this demonstrated again in Kaecilius's next big appearance a few issues later. In Strange Tales #135: "Eternity Beckons". Mordo sends Kaecilius to trap Doctor Strange at the English estate of Sir Baskerville — another of Mordo's followers.
Here Mordo appears to be controlling Kaecilius in a more explicit way than before, as he announces himself to Baskerville thusly:
"Though I speak through another's lips, I am your master! I see, I hear and I command!"
The vast majority of Kaecilius's appearances involve him functioning as a vessel of Baron Mordo so — could the same be true for Doctor Strange?
Baron Mordo's Role In Doctor Strange
The Doctor Strange trailer dealt primarily with laying out the foundations of Doctor Strange's origin story, but when it comes to the villains of the piece there appeared to be a larger focus upon Mikkelsen's Kaecilius rather than Chiwetel Ejiofor's Baron Mordo.
This is a little odd when you consider the fact that Baron Mordo has traditionally been Strange's arch-nemesis. In the trailer we see him at the sanctuary in Tibet where Strange first meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). This follows the comic book origins pretty closely, as Baron Mordo is a current pupil of the Ancient One when Strange first arrives in Strange Tales #115.
Later we see Mordo standing around broody and not really saying much. More curiously, the set photos from a few months back show Strange and Mordo apparently fighting side by side, rather than against each other. And this is after Strange appears to have gained his powers, rather than when he's still the ragged form we see in the trailer.
Marvel Studios' President Kevin Feige told Entertainment Weekly back in December 2015 that Mikkelsen's character would be the "main villain" in Doctor Strange, so where does this leave Baron Mordo?
So — could it be that Kaecilius will eventually be revealed as a puppet of Baron Mordo in Doctor Strange? When Strange first meets the Ancient One in the comics, Baron Mordo is living at the Ancient One's sanctuary as his apprentice — whilst secretly trying to kill his master and take his title as Sorcerer Supreme.
It could be that Mordo's villainous intention is kept secret a little longer in Doctor Strange, with him acting through Kaecilius in order to remain close to the Ancient One. A revelation of his true nature could come at the conclusion — or even post-credits scene — of the movie, setting Mordo up as the villain for more appearances further down the line.
Consider Loki (Tom Hiddleston), one of the most popular villains of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He was first set up as an antagonist in Thor, but his true machinations didn't really come front and centre until The Avengers. The Loki of Thor is conflicted, and in many ways we understand his point of view — rejected by discovery of his true heritage and overlooked for the throne in favor of his older, brasher brother. The same could be said of Baron Mordo, if he takes it as a slight that his master appears to favor Stephen Strange and bestows the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme upon the newcomer, rather than Mordo himself.
Keeping Mordo around beyond Doctor Strange also provides a means to later bring in bigger villains such as Dormammu, as the early-days Mordo forged an alliance with the ruler of the Dark Dimension to take Strange down.
This would also explain why Mikkelsen has the Mark of the Vishanti branded on his forehead in the promo material and set images we've seen so far. It could've been put there as a means by which to allow Mordo to bend him to his will as, like Strange, he draws power from the Vishanti deities.
Of course this is all just speculation based on the comic book character, it could be way off the mark, especially since it looks like Kaecilius has followers of his own in the Doctor Strange trailer.
For now, we'll just have to wait until Doctor Strange arrives November 4, 2016 to find out for sure.
What do you think Kaecilius will be up to in Doctor Strange? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
Source: Entertainment Weekly