It’s always a smart move to cast Mads Mikkelsen, and the new trailer for Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange shows exactly why. Most of it is nothing new: Benedict Cumberbatch plays a sort of ersatz Bond—watch winders, tuxedos, and Lamborghinis—until Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One opens his eyes to a lot of mystical nonsense and special effects rather shamelessly stolen from Inception. But Mikkelsen’s dry delivery of “Mister doctor?” exchange is a breath of fresh air and gives hope that Doctor Strange might be closer to Ant-Man than humorless slogs like Captain America: Civil War, at least when Mikkelsen is on screen.
The trailer indirectly points to one of the great weaknesses of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: the lack of great villains. One thing the best Bond films excel at is casting great actors and letting them hand in truly demented performances. Marvel, on the other hand, somehow managed to suck the charisma out of Lee Pace, and, despite casting a long list of A-listers, has really only managed a couple of memorable villains—and one of them wasn’t, really. The long-teased arrival of the charisma-free Thanos does not seem likely to improve matters. Can Mikkelsen’s dry wit breathe new life into the franchise? Why not? He’s done it before.