Marvel movies have operated in a variety of genres, from the buddy heist of Ant-Man to the Cold War thriller of Captain America: The Winter Soldier to the gleeful space opera of Guardians of the Galaxy to the purely epic adventure of The Avengers–but they’ve all played by the same rules until now. Doctor Strange, in theaters this Friday, shakes that up, though–Marvel’s introduction to the Sorcerer Supreme looks to show the sideways, hidden realities that lurk between and beside the ones in which Iron Man and The Hulk punch their opponents. For a franchise that explained away the existence of a Norse god running around next to a super-spy and a guy with a bow and arrow as “magic is just science you don’t understand yet,” that’s a big shake-up.
In order to help fans grasp the idea of worlds within or parallel to our own that provide the operating framework for Doctor Strange, Marvel took an innovative approach: It tapped three artists connected to three different cities, and had them use Google’s Tilt Brush–the company’s 360 painting tool–to construct alternate dimension versions of New York, London, and Hong Kong, then created a 360 VR experience of those dimensions for fans to explore.
The project, headed by creative agency Denizen, concluded with not just the 360 videos–which you can check out below–but also a final video that shows fans in all three cities interacting with them, as part of the mixed-reality live experience called “Change Your Reality.” “We wanted to convey the vast scope and awe-inspiring beauty of the dimensions within Doctor Strange while connecting to the theme that these dimensions are within our own reality,” Denizen’s co-founder, Joe Matsushima, explained in a release from the agency. The final product showcases a tour through Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum that has fans traversing realities as they walk through rooms, in the sort of mind-bending spectacle that the film is built around–and which represents a sharp left turn from the relatively grounded adventures of Marvel’s previous films.