(Reuters) - "Doctor Strange," the latest superhero to dominate the big screen, is taking Walt Disney Co's Marvel universe in an unconventional direction, lead star Benedict Cumberbatch said on Monday.
Cumberbatch plays surgeon Stephen Strange, who harnesses mystical magic powers drawn from Eastern cultures. The actor said the new film intentionally takes a different path to Marvel's other cinematic superheroes such as "Iron Man," "Captain America" and "Ant-Man," who draw power from technology.
"It was a real left turn for the comic universe, let alone the cinematic one," Cumberbatch told Reuters of the original 1960s "Doctor Strange" comics at the film's London premiere.
"It was very dark and mischievous and psychedelic and otherworldly and to try and replicate that in modern cinema is one of the great challenges," he added.
"Doctor Strange," out in theaters on Nov. 4, follows Strange, a cocky and brilliant surgeon - much like the billionaire "Iron Man" playboy Tony Stark - whose glamorous New York life is taken away from him when his hands are crippled in a car accident.
Strange's desperation to heal his main assets lead him to Nepal, where he encounters the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and discovers how to harness mystical powers to heal and fight with, as the world faces threats from a menacing otherworldly being.
"It's toying with a lot of new things like parallel universes and kind of philosophical ideas and working on a deeper level ... the metaphysical is just a whole new world that's opened up for Marvel," co-star Rachel McAdams said.
The movie has received positive early reviews, with critics praising the plot, the visuals and the performances.
"It does feel like a new chapter for Marvel and it's definitely a new direction for me and I definitely enjoyed playing this character so if people are enjoying it then we've done something right," Cumberbatch said.
"Doctor Strange" is the first mainstream leading role for the 40-year-old actor, who developed a steady following through his lead role as BBC's "Sherlock," and in his Oscar-nominated performance in 2014's "The Imitation Game."
Cumberbatch and his wife Sophie Hunter announced last week that they are expecting their second child, and the actor said he was "over the moon."
"Those are moments that you never ever forget - I remember it very clearly and obviously it was early on and so I couldn't say anything and just yeah there's nothing like, it's kind of beyond words. It's difficult to explain," he said.
(Reporting by Francis Maguire for Reuters TV in London; Writing by Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)