When Adam Frank, the science consultant for Marvel's 2016 "Doctor Strange," was dropped off at the Rochester Airport in a black limo to fly out for a meeting with the movie's filmmakers, and then picked up in a black Mercedes-Benz SUV for a private screening, he wondered if all the fanfare was really necessary.
"The whole thing was limos," he said. "It was limos from beginning to end."
But a glimpse into Hollywood life was not a bad deal for Frank, who lives in New York, and admits to still getting star struck. His driver boasted about having driven the Kardashians and the now-defunct Brangelina, as Frank inquired about whatever celebrity came to mind.
Yet perhaps more impressive for Frank was getting to work on a Marvel film. A lifelong fan, he began readings Marvel comics when he was only 11 years old, so inspired by the material that he went on to make his own "Captain America" shield.
"Luckily, I didn't take it to school because I wouldn't have survived…my shield wouldn't have been made of vibranium," he said.
Frank credits his father for his pursuit of astronomy and interest in science fiction, as he grew up seeing covers of pulp science fiction magazines with men on alien planets.
Now an astrophysicist, Frank was first contacted by director Scott Derrickson about serving as a consultant, but it wasn't until six months after their initial converstation that he received the email that "changed [his] life."
Although the concept of a multiverse in "Doctor Strange" is "a purely scientific idea," leading to discussions about how to keep it grounded in physics, Frank said the more pressing question in the film was philosophical, specifically the nature of consciousness or what he and other philosophers call "the mind-body problem," which explores the relationship between the mind and physical experiences.
For Frank, there's more to a film than scientific reality.
"People go to movies because they want good stories," he said. "I'm not one of those people who go 'Oh my God, they didn't accurately reflect the orbit of the moon.'"
But Frank noted that it also depends on the movie, stating that in a production like "The Martian," for example, it was important to get as much of the science right as possible because the premise of the movie was based on what would happen if someone was trapped on Mars. In a film such as "Star Trek," on the other hand, he says it is acceptable to "take the science that you know and extend it."
In general, Frank doesn't look to see if a movie gets all of the science right, but rather, if it has respect for science, the scientific process and whether that process is represented "in a way that does homage to what science has given us."
"I want a good story where the science is incorporated in a way that was thoughtful," he said.
"Doctor Strange," starring Benedict Cumberbatch, is out Nov. 4.
Reach Staff Reporter Agnessa Kasumyan here.