Graham Churchyard Talks Doctor Strange 2 Costumes

ComingSoon spoke to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Costume designer Graham Churchyard on designing these iconic costumes, showing character development through what they wear and how the visuals of superhero movies have changed.

“In the film, the MCU unlocks the multiverse and pushes its boundaries further than ever before,” reads the synopsis. “Journey into the unknown with Doctor Strange, who, with the help of mystical allies old and new, traverses the mind-bending and dangerous alternate realities of the multiverse to face a mysterious new adversary.”

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is available now on digital and will be released on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD on July 26th.

RELATED: Interview: Xochitl Gomez Reflects on Doctor Strange 2, Entering the MCU

Spencer Legacy: Doctor Strange as a character has decades of vibrant costumes to draw inspiration from. How did you decide where to take inspiration from this huge library?

Graham Cemetery: Alexandra Byrne’s costumes were phenomenal and hard to follow because, having watched the movie several times when I got the job, I didn’t really appreciate how incredibly detailed all of those pieces were. We had to take the language that was created, because they spent a lot of time creating this sort of Kamar-Taj language of costumes. I’ll say I kind of helped push this along, but in Kamar-Taj in the first movie, it was kind of a tea-drinking place. Yeah. Doctor Strange has been through some stuff, but it’s a place of learning and drinking tea and serenity that mostly occupied this kind of part of a Zen temple that was somewhere between Google and some kind of center of Buddhist learning.

That’s why they all wore sneakers and sportswear. They wanted to insert in this film that there were not only dresses, that there were sportswear used. Having obtained the pages [for[ Multiverse, we knew that everyone had to be battle-ready. So it was just a way of moving on. So for the whole of the background, all the Kamar-Taj students, I moved them out of these flowing robes into this originally created armor. So I made all that from scratch, everything, and created a different … so Sam [Raimi, director of Multiverse of Madness] very much wanted them to be different. There was infantry and artillery with the big guns, then there were bows with the magic Eldritch bows. So he wanted to clarify what each part of Kamar-Taj was doing with the battle against Scarlet Witch.

And so it was just a blast for me to put aside everything that had been done before and create something that was more like battle-ready armored suits with a kind of Far Eastern flair. The thing that I loved the most about it – I didn’t realize it until filming, because the roofs are a big quad with all these big slabs and all these pieces, which are very shaped suits – that They all look like moving chess pieces. It was actually quite exciting for me. And I never said that to anyone else, but that was part of it. But when you talk about looking back strange doctor, well, the coat hasn’t changed, has it? We couldn’t change the cape because it has a personality and it does amazing things.

But the disciple costume he wears in this film in which he ultimately finds himself as Doctor Strange… [at] the very end of strange doctor, he appears at the window of the Sanctum wearing a master costume because he has been upgraded. And then for some reason, in Infinity War and End of Game, he always wore this costume. And in fact when we started Multiverse, Kevin said we really need to upgrade it because he’s now worn it five or six times. Well it was going to be five times, and then with the switcheroo with Spider Man [No Way Home]because of COVID, he ended up wearing his End of Game costume once again in Spider Man. I am a crazy world. Just looking at the influences and the comics and the studio and where they want to take things next time is also part of the process.

How did that progress play out with Scarlet Witch, because she also shows character growth through her costume, but it’s a very different type to Doctor Strange. What was this process like?

At the end of Wanda Vision, you see Mayes Rubeo’s fabulous costume for a moment. And Sam Raimi, with the script and the influences that were in the script that she was in possession of the Darkhold and had been corrupted, that meant that that corruption had an effect on her clothes as well as on her. It was as if this multiversal mold had crept onto his body and started to corrode, crumble, and disintegrate the costume. So we took the Wanda Vision suit and rebuilt it, because we had to reshape it with all these flaws and break down into casts on the body. And I felt that the cold shoulder was…I’ll just say, not too romantic, but not sinister enough. Sam didn’t think it was grim enough. So I created this sleeve, again this multiversal mold crawling all over that part of her shoulder just to encompass her and make her more one.

On the other hand, with America Chavez, it’s her first movie, and as a comic book character, she hasn’t been around for that long. How did you go about designing it?

I’ve watched a lot of comics and they’re very adult and America is in its twenties or something. They just seemed too big to cast a 14-year-old in the MCU [with], and the studio was very aware of that. So we kind of took it back to something that was less dramatic or exposing that way and more kind of building the character to show that… so the coat, the denim jacket, the Levi jacket went through a lot of different versions until we are done up landed with the denim jacket with the star on the back. And when you watch the movie and you see her appear for the first time and you see the star, it’s like… it’s always been like that.

I probably did 20 different stars and back to it. Some of them had day of the dead symbols on some of them, [or] had his two mothers. And the inspiration was she was this emo traveling across the multiverse and maybe in her bedroom at night, she was writing poetry and her thoughts and her fears on her coat, just [as] kind of just a way out of his experiences. And I mean, I did it when I was a kid, and I know people who have done it and they’re as trendy as they are trendy. Just the idea of ​​people wearing a lot of pins and stuff trying to show a statement about a political thing or whatever, but I wanted to put his life story in his jacket.

So it’s all Spanish poetry. So we wrote all these things and we translated them. So a lot of stuff in there has to do with Day of the Dead and Portuguese witchcraft, just kind of mixing the Latin cultures genre, because she’s a witch, right? So we had to introduce the idea of ​​where she’s going next in the MCU, and she’ll end up wearing something else that will launch her, but it’s all there if you can get close to it.

In the Illuminati, these are characters that people have long wanted to see in different guises. It’s like designing a whole new Avengers team. How was it?

Oh my God. The job was so hard, then they say, “Hey, we’re featuring the Illuminati.” And it’s just like, “what?! A load of superheroes? How am I going to do this? And so they came up with this wishlist. So that wishlist kept changing somewhat.

Reed Richards and Black Bolt were… there were so many that were talked about, that were on different people’s wish lists and it all has to do with what Kevin [Feige, head of Marvel Studios] and the MCU and what’s next and what’s going on there. But Captain Carter was there from the start, and then we finally got Hayley Atwell in that part. Yeah, we made this costume from scratch. Did I ever say I worked on Marvel [films]. So for First Avenger, I made this first costume for Chris Evans with a whole team. There were probably, like, 20 of us at the time, compared to Multiverse, which was like 170 … 160 or 170 in the crew, a very large crew, even by our standards here, it’s a very, very large crew. And the manufacturing department consisted of vast leather workers, people embroidering all day, people sewing all day, people printing fabric, dying fabric, aging costumes. I mean, it just goes on and on and on. People buying stuff, people looking for fabric, you know, and then, you know, it’s like endless, endless work.

You also mentioned previous projects. You’ve worked on projects since Tim Burton’s Batman. How has the visual language of superhero movies changed in all this time?

Interesting. When it was shot in 35 mill and seen in theaters, everyone had a fuzzy old VHS… [it] was a different thing, but I guess people’s eyes adjust to different things. I mean, the fact that it was shot in IMAX [and] you can screen it on Disney+ in an enhanced version of IMAX is amazing. And 4k Blu-ray will be pretty amazing to see all those details. But how has that changed…the technology has changed. We still do it a bit, but clay sculpting was something we’ve always done, and clay sculpting is becoming less and less. Now we did some clay sculpting Multiverse, but it’s done as a quick 3D sketch in front of you, then you translate it into a computer model. But without 3D modeling, we would be stuck. And if we only had that at the time, like on the Tim Burton thing, they were all sculpted to play, all of them.