A Strange New World
He is a surgeon. A superhero. And a Sorcerer Supreme. He even got named dropped in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But who is exactly Marvel’s mystical champion; Doctor Strange?
Here’s everything you need to know about Doctor Strange.
Who is Doctor Strange?
The legendary Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created Doctor Strange in 1963. The same team who gave birth to Spiderman a year earlier. The good doctor made his first appearance in the fittingly titled Strange Tales #110 and the backup story called “Dr Strange Master of Black Magic!”
Before ever wearing the colourful cloak of the Sorcerer Supreme, Steven Strange was a wealthy and famous neurosurgeon, but he was something of a jerk less concerned with the plight of his patients than he was with his own greedy and selfish needs. Eventually, though, a car accident changed all that. With his perfect surgeon hands damaged beyond repair. Strange quickly fell in hard times, but legends of the mystic called “The Ancient One” led Strange all the way to Tibet, where he hoped to cure his hands by means other than medicine, BY MAGIC.
While sceptical of all this hocus pocus at first, Strange soon submitted to the Ancient One’s Teachings. Spending years as his apprentice as he mastered the mystic arts. You see, The Ancient One was well-aware of Strange long before he arrived in Tibet, and he knew that the Doctor was destined to succeed him as Sorcerer Supreme one day.
It was during this time that Strange first encountered Baron Karl Mordo, another student of the Ancient One who would go on to be a lifelong adversary of Steven’s. In time a transformed Doctor Strange would return to New York wise, selfless, and heroic now. The new and improved Doctor Strange set up shop in his Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenwich village along with his faithful manservant Wong.
At the time these comics were first being published the village was a bastion of 1960’s beat and art scene, and Strange himself became something of a representative of the counterculture. The bizarre, otherworldly realms the Doctor often found himself in, were amazingly rendered in Ditko’s psychedelic art.
Meanwhile, concepts like the Living Tribunal, the manifestation of balance in the multiverse and Eternity the personification of Eternity were enough to make comic fans heads spin. Reading a Doctor Strange comic was like an acid trip. No acid required. Soon Strange would come to face one of his greatest foes the Dread Dormammu, who was planning an incursion into our reality from his dark dimension. And as crappy as that sounds for Earth, it did allow for Steven to meet the love of his life, Clea. A fellow mystic, the girl also happened to be the flame-headed dread one’s niece.
Another familiar foe was Nightmare, a dream demon. And then there was a being known as Shuma Gorath. In a desperate fit to save the earth from this guy, the Ancient One Convinced Doctor Strange that his only option was to kill his master, and so he did, becoming the new Sorcerer Supreme in the most bitter of ways. The Ancient One merged with Eternity or something like that, so that kind of worked out, too.
It didn’t take Strange long to mix with his fellow superheroes either. Teaming up with the likes of Thor, Spiderman, and the Fantastic Four. By the early 1970’s, he helped found the team the Defenders alongside The Hulk and Prince Namor. The Silver Surfer would also join the team eventually, making it probably the most influential super group in the history of, well, forever. Strange has an array of magical tools at his disposal. All of which as powerful as they are hard to pronounce.
The Eye of Agamotto is the coolest, and seems at times like it can do virtually anything. But don’t confuse that with the Orb of Agamotto, which is sort of like a crystal ball. The Eye of Agamotto is inspired by a real world item, “The All Seeing Eye of the Buddha.” Another mainstay of the Doctor’s powers is his ability to astral projection, but he also got psychic powers, hypnotism, and energy projection, teleportation and a tonne of other tricks up his sleeve. He’s essentially one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel universe. Oh, did I mention that he also beat death and the ageing process? He’s not immortal, but he’s pretty close to it.
As for his status in the Marvel cinematic universe beyond his Captain 2 mention, his movie will be released on November 4th. Such a film will undoubtedly bring Marvel into a new realm of magic and mysticism. You could even call it a Strange New World.