It’s official: Benedict Cumberbatch is back and toting a Van Dyke beard, playing the Sorcerer Supreme himself, Doctor Strange. Nerds are excited, but what about non-nerds? For them, here’s everything you need to know about Doctor Strange.
What kind of superhero name is Doctor Strange?
His real one! Doctor Strange is actually Stephen Strange, MD, a brilliant and arrogant neurosurgeon who gets in a car wreck. The wreck shatters his hand, leaving him unable to operate. Not content to simply make piles of money as a brilliant doctor or teach other surgeons to save lives, he desperately looks for a way to fix his hands… ultimately winding up in the Himalayas learning the mystic arts under the Ancient One, played in this movie by Tilda Swinton. After his time in the Himalayas, he moves back to Greenwich Village and starts defending the world against mystic threats.
Why did it become a big deal?
The short answer? Steve Ditko. Ditko is one of the great comic-book artists, and when he was challenged to deliver weird, otherworldly vistas, boy did he ever deliver.
The co-creator of Spider-Man, Ditko invented the character, and it was more or less a playground for him to deliver some of the most bizarre, abstract work of his career. It was also the right book at the right time: You’d be forgiven for thinking the art above is from a comic book from the psychedelic late ’60s, but all this got started in 1963. Before you ask, no, nobody in the Marvel Bullpen was “experienced.”
Any villains I should know about?
The big one, for the movie, is Baron Mordo, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor. Mordo was training to be Sorcerer Supreme before Strange showed up and did not take his demotion well. There’s also Dormammu, basically Loki but his head’s on fire, and Nightmare, who is the personification of… well, you can guess from the name.
Who’s Rachel McAdams playing?
Unclear, but she’s rumored to be playing Night Nurse, the nurse who keeps heroes from dying all the time. She’s actually a doctor, but let’s face it, “Night Doctor” is just a creepy name.
How’s he going to tie into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe?
In the comics, Doctor Strange is mostly the go-to guy for dealing with mystic stuff; he’s pretty useful to have around when there are Infinity Gems on the loose. Also, his ability to visit other planes of existence will probably come in handy when Thor needs some help in that arena. Or he could show up and just have a beard-off with Tony Stark.
Yeah, what’s the deal with Van Dykes and Marvel superheroes anyway?
Just be grateful it’s not a Supermullet.