The newest member of the Marvel movie universe, Benedict Cumberbatch was excited about the idea of playing Doctor Strange, the neurosurgeon who becomes a sorcerer. "Marvel is a stable of bringing out ordinary comic characters and turning them into screen-like gods," he laughs. "But you know, I'm really excited about it, about working with [director] Scott Derrickson, whose imagination is endless, and all the boys and girls at Marvel who know what they're doing."

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor StrangeBenedict Cumberbatch in his Doctor Strange attire

Even though he had never read the comics before being cast in the role, he enjoyed playing catch-up. And he says that the character is one of the most interesting he has tackled. "I found Stephen Strange to be incredibly good company despite his occasioned arrogance," Cumberbatch says. "And his journey is extraordinary! He is utterly broken down to be reconstituted into the superhero that becomes fully fledged by the end of the movie. And very importantly there's a lot of humour on the way. There's a lot of action, a lot of drama. All those elements really appeal to me as an actor."

There was also the fanboy element of getting to dress up as a superhero. "I was giddy, like a child at Halloween, when I saw the costume for the first time," he says. "It really was the penny-drop moment for me. I really did end up giggling! And then, the second time it really hit home was near the end of the shoot. We were in New York, and there were as many paparazzi as there were crew. It was getting a little bit surreal, and we were running down 5th Avenue, jumping to fly, and there was the Empire State Building in the same eyeline, and it was just a moment of magic to think about the men and women who first crafted these comics on the floors of some of those buildings, in that town, and there I was playing on it."

Cumberbatch will also be back as Sherlock in a special that's out on New Year's Day. But does he see any similarity between Stephen Strange and Sherlock Holmes? "There is the cross-over of clever and arrogant and workaholic," he says. "Strange is a materialist and he's egocentric, but he's got charm and he's witty. He's liked by his colleagues. He's had relationships with them. He's not this outsider who's a sociopathic asexual obsessive, like Sherlock is. There's a world of difference!"

Watch the trailer and clips from Doctor Strange: