Movies

Who is Doctor Strange?

Here’s a primer to get acquainted with the Marvel’s superhero universe’s most unique character

Superheroes seem to follow set rules. Either you have a multi-billionaire who builds a super suit; or an alien on earth with special powers. Then there’s the radioactive insect bite which gives superpowers or that noble victim of unfortunate circumstances.

This is followed by the superheroes teaming up to save the world while maintaining their troubled other lives. But there are exceptions. Take for instance Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), which subverted the superhero formula. Now it’s time for another unusual hero to hit the big screen, one that’s aptly named Doctor Strange.

A brilliant but egotistical neurosurgeon, Stephen Strange charged high fees, was callous and arrogant. And then one day he lost the use of his hands in an accident. After a series of events and plenty of soul searching, Strange seeks out The Ancient One, who makes him a sorcerer. You see there are groups like The Avengers to protect the earth from physical threats and alien invasions. But there seems to be no hero protecting the world from metaphysical entities; malevolent beings invading our planet from other realms and dimensions. This is where Doctor Strange steps in, countering those threats through mystical arts.

Doctor Strange first appeared in July 1963 in Marvel’s Strange Tales #110. Created by Steve Ditko, Doctor Strange was first envisioned to be a high level magician, carrying the tagline Master of Black Magic. Over the years his popularity grew and he got his own comic book series: Dr. Strange: Sorcerer Supreme. He also made appearances in The Amazing Spiderman. He’s also part of The Avengers and the Defenders. In fact, a self-titled Doctor Strange made-for-TV film from 1978 is still buried in embarrassment.

As a character, Doctor Strange allowed writers and artistes to go psychedelic with his powers. He’s a sorcerer supreme and uses incantations to invoke mystical entities and objects of great power. Strange can also use astral projections, cast illusions, mesmerise, and travel through dimensions and time. And physically, he can kick some you know what, as he’s a martial artist with an extremely good knowledge of science and medicine in addition to the metaphysical.

Casting coup

The film that releases tomorrow, features Benedict Cumberbatch in perhaps the best casting choice. Joining him are Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen (as the bad guy) and a bald Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One. From what we have seen, the filmmakers have done a great job in bringing the comic to life with out-of-the-world psychedelic effects. Expect cities to bend and move while Strange travels through dimensions.

Marvel’s big picture

When Marvel embarked on what they called their ‘cinematic universe’, they had a larger plan in mind. It all started with Iron Man moving on to Thor, Captain America and finally in The Avengers. And the more recent Iron Man and Thor films only pushed the stories further. Eventually, we had Guardians of the Galaxy. Soon all the films will culminate in a massive two-part movie called The Avengers: Infinity War (expected in 2018). At the core of this war is the Infinity (Soul) Gems: Mind, Soul, Power, Space, Time and Reality.

- First there was the stone in Loki's Chitauri sceptre which was explored further in The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) called the Mind Stone which later turned Jarvis into Vision.

- The Space Stone was seen in the first Captain America and then appeared in the first Avengers film to open up massive wormholes.

- The Purple Power Stone wreaked havoc as the centrepiece of the Guardians of the Galaxy film.

- The Reality Stone was briefly seen in Thor: The Dark World (2013), used by the Dark Elf Malekith.

- The Orange Soul Stone will make its debut in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017).

- The last stone which is the Time Stone is used by Doctor Strange fitting the Sorcerer Supreme into the grand scheme of things.

According to the comic books, these stones are worn by the big bad guy Thanos on a glove called the Infinity Gauntlet which lets him use the power of all the stones. Think of all the Marvel movies to date, put together to form one long narrative. Now there's a lot more to come in their roadmap, before we get to see Infinity War. There’s Black Panther (2018), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, and Ant Man 2 (2018).

The author is a freelance tech and lifestyle writer

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 9:35:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/Who-is-Doctor-Strange/article15988450.ece

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