The 14th film in the #MCU, Doctor Strange is a mystic tour de force that's unparalleled in superhero cinema to date. Visually, it's more similar to the likes of Inception than it is to Marvel's traditional movies, while the concepts of sorcery the film plays with feel like a sci-fi version of the Harry Potter franchise. It's stunning.
But it isn't everything we expected it to be. The theatrical release is heavily-edited — compare the film to the countless teasers and TV spots, and it doesn't take long to spot key elements that failed to make it past the cutting-room floor. One of those teasers suggests that a pretty major scene may well have been edited out...
WARNING: Spoilers follow!
Meet Tina Minoru
Played by Linda Louise Duan, the character of Tina Minoru is one who had fans seriously excited. In the comics, she's the mother of Nico Minoru, a member of Marvel's #Runaways; as such, including the character of Tina Minoru established a clear link between Doctor Strange and the Runaways series Marvel is working on with Hulu. The character made her #MCU debut in one of the official tie-in comics, and that clip was seen in one of the featurettes. She's immediately recognizable to comic book fans, if only because she's clearly wielding the Staff of One - the Minoru family's traditional weapon.
Unfortunately, that scene was cut from the theatrical release, meaning we don't actually get to see Tina Minoru on the big screen. We can see her in the background in Hong Kong - in what was clearly an extended scene - but it's a real shame that this exciting moment got cut.
How Would This Scene Have Fitted into the Story?
Watching the film, it's not hard to guess where this scene is set. Towards the end of the film, Mads Mikkelsen's #Kaecilius is preparing to attack the Hong Kong Sanctum. The Masters of the Mystic Arts prepare themselves to defend the Sanctum; we see Benedict Wong (who, amusingly enough, plays the part of Wong) preparing them for battle, with the Masters grabbing relics from the walls of the Sanctum. Tina Minoru is clearly visible in the background of this scene.
Here's where things get really interesting. I got the pleasure of interviewing Linda Duan (who plays the part of Tina Minoru), and she revealed that 50% of her audition consisted of demonstrating her Martial Arts skills. Linda is particularly well-versed in Shotokan Karate:
"I train as much as I can, really. Three times a week max. Obviously I have to miss sessions here and there if things come up, and I stopped training a bit when I was at Mime and Theatre school, but since I graduated, I’ve been training more. Shotokan Karate is great because it’s so safe. As an actress, I don’t want to injure myself, as that will put me out of work for a while!"
Let's face it — you don't need Martial Arts training and knowledge to take a staff off a wall. Clearly, this was the prelude to an action scene that involved Tina Minoru.
What Was Cut?
The theatrical release doesn't show the fall of the Hong Kong Sanctum. When Benedict Cumberbatch's Stephen Strange and Chiwetel Ejiofor's Mordo arrive on the scene, the Sanctum is already destroyed, and the Dark Dimension is invading our reality. In a moment of genius, Strange uses the Eye of Agamotto to reverse the flow of time, but the only one we see restored is Wong — the other defenders evidently still fell to Kaecilius and his Zealots.
This, I think, is what was cut. I think Marvel actually filmed scenes where the Masters of the Mystic Arts and the Zealots went head-to-head. It's not really any surprise that the Zealots triumphed; empowered by the Dark Dimension, they could manipulate the structure of reality itself in a way that none of the Masters were trained to deal with. Regardless, I suspect that battle would have been incredible to see, with sorcerers going head-to-head in dramatic shows of power!
If I'm right, then this scene was presumably cut in order to tighten the film's narrative and focus in more closely on the core characters. That would be a real shame; I'd have loved to see that full-on mystic battle. With any luck, Marvel will choose to release that as part of the Deleted Scenes in the DVD / Blu-Ray release.
- Exclusive Interview With Linda Louise Duan — Tina Minoru In 'Doctor Strange'!
- Doctor Strange: Is Kaecilius The Answer To Marvel's 'Villain Problem'?
- Doctor Strange: News, Rumors, Release Date, Trailer & All You Need To Know
It's been a strange year for superhero films. Both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were heavily criticized for their editing, while the fan-favorite Mall scene was cut from X-Men: Apocalypse. Now, it seems that another potentially tremendous sequence was cut from Doctor Strange! In this case, I do rather wish Marvel had given us that battle. I think it would've been tremendous...
Do you wish we'd gotten to see the battle between the Zealots and the Masters of the Mystic Arts?
Poll Image: Marvel Comics. Cover image: JustABlink.