Before ‘Doctor Strange’, Here’s Everything You Need To Know About The Sorcerer Supreme

If you at all have your ear to the superhero movie radar you’ve probably heard of a little Marvel movie by the name of Doctor Strange, set to release in November of this year.

Amongst its other accolades Doctor Strange boasts one of the most impressive casts of the — with Hollywood Golden Brit Benedict Cumberbatch leading the way as Doctor Stephen Strange.

But who is Doctor Strange exactly?

A Parasitic-Demonic-Ladies man, for one [Doctor Strange #1]
A Parasitic-Demonic-Ladies man, for one [Doctor Strange #1]

A long running and hugely important character in the Marvel comic books, he’s not quite as well known in popular culture as the likes of Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America were before their blockbuster breakthroughs. But that’s why we’re here, because some of us wasted our youth reading comic books so you don’t have to.

First things first though: if you have no idea what we’re talking about then check out the spell-binding trailer below, and you can for even more information.

Who Is Doctor Strange?

Doctor Strange — also known as the Sorcerer Supreme — is a pretty exciting and hugely influential character from back in the Silver Age of comics. Created by the legendary Steve Ditko, Strange made his debut as a 5-page filler character in Strange Tales back in 1963. The character proved a surprise hit with fans, moving to his own series shortly thereafter and is still going strong today.

He’s appeared in the Marvel video games, his own animated movie and was previously portrayed by Peter Hooten in the straight-to-TV movie Dr. Strange back in 1978.

Strange times indeed [Dr. Strange]
Strange times indeed [Dr. Strange]

But this is the first time the character is being brought to life on the big screen, and .

Doctor Strange’s Origins

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Before he was a superhero Stephen Strange was a proud and egotistical neurosurgeon, and an all round bit-of-a-dick.

He only worked for fame and money, and refused to help out with charity cases or anyone who couldn’t foot the bill for their surgery. He also smoked in the operating theatre, cause this was the 60s and also screw your possibly-exposed lungs buddy.

The origins of Doctor Strange [Strange Tales #115]
The origins of Doctor Strange [Strange Tales #115]

In a twist of fate (or karma) Stephen Strange’s precious hands suffered irreversible nerve damage in a car accident, ending his career. Destitute and sinking into poverty and depression, he overheard two sailors talking about the legend of the Ancient One, who supposedly can cure any illness.

So he seeks out the old hermit and — after initially dismissing his tales as fantasty — agrees to stay and study under him. In exchange the Ancient One teaches him the ways of the mystic arts, and attempts to draw the ‘goodness’ out from beneath his layers of dickbaggery.

So much dickbaggery [Strange Tales #115]
So much dickbaggery [Strange Tales #115]

Eventually Strange inherits the title of Sorcerer Supreme from the Ancient One — making him the protector of Earth against magical and mystical threats. His arch-enemy is Baron Mordo — who will be portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor in Doctor Strange — a fellow apprentice of the Ancient One who spent most of his early days plotting to kill his master and take that title for himself.

Doctor Strange’s Powers

Inspired by black magic and tales of magicians, Doctor Strange is — as you may have guessed from the aformentioned title — one of the most powerful sorcerers in the Marvel universe. Hence the whole “protector of Earth” thing.

Magic in the Marvel Universe is a bit of a deux ex machina as its limits remain fluid and undefined, ranging from casting illusions to manipulating reality itself ( ). Because of this it’s a little tricky to define exactly the range of Doctor Strange’s powers, but he can also smack talk like a pro.

[Doctor Strange: The Oath #4]
[Doctor Strange: The Oath #4]

At the moment it’s safe to presume that his complete skill set is unknown, but here’s a run down of some of the abilities he’s displayed over the 50 odd years of his comic book run:

  • energy projection and manipulation
  • matter transformation
  • animation of inanimate objects
  • teleportation
  • illusion
  • mind control/possession
  • astral projection
  • travel between dimensions and through time
  • various defensive and attack spells
  • dark magic manipulation

Basically, if you can think of a magic trope, Strange has probably meddled with it at some point. He’s a meddler. Side note: If you’re interested in finding out more about how Doctor Strange uses magic in the Marvel Universe, .

Where Do Doctor Strange’s Powers Come From?

The Vishanti as they appear in 'Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment'

The Vishanti as they appear in ‘Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment’

Let’s get mystical: Strange draws his powers primarily from several mystical beings called the Vishanti. The Vishanti are three god-like beings of immense magical power who exist outwith time and space, and can move between dimensions as they please. They consist of Agamotto the All-Seeing (the pointy eared one in the middle), Oshtur the Omnipotent (the long haired lady) and Hoggoth the Hoary (the tiger).

The prime focus of the Vishanti is to support the Sorcerer Supreme — typically Doctor Strange, though the mantle has been passed to others through the years, most noticeably to Brother Voodoo following the World War Hulk saga when Strange relinquished the title.

But — as the excellent recent run of by Jason Aaron & Chris Bachalo show — they aren’t the only source of the Sorcerer Supreme’s power. Doctor Strange can also draw out and use magic from mystical objects, and the very Earth itself.

But Wait, There’s More!

Doctor Strange uses the Eye of Agamotto against the Witchfinder Wolves [Doctor Strange #5]
Doctor Strange uses the Eye of Agamotto against the Witchfinder Wolves [Doctor Strange #5]

Strange also possesses numerous magical objects, cause a sorcerer is only as good as his toys, and a whole library full of magical books. The most prevalent of his mystical icons (and so most likely to appear in the film) are as follows:

  • Cloak of Levitation: a stylish cloak which grants him the power of flight
  • Eye of Agamotto: an amulet used to negate black magics
  • Orb of Agamotto: a crystal ball used for clairvoyance
  • Book of the Vishanti: a spellbook of white magic

Additionally, Strange is also a trained martial artist — because everyone in the Marvel universe knows martial arts — and a skilled athlete. He’s highly intelligent (arguably genius level), possesses a wealth of medical knowledge and can still perform surgery when his damaged hands are supported by magic

So, What’s The Big Deal?

What, that’s not enough for you? Fine. Have this image of Doctor Strange laying down some sick dark magics on Daniel Drumm from New Avengers #31, after casually wiping the floor with the majority of the New Avengers team (they were possessed at the time, so it’s okay).

You got that right Hellstrom [New Avengers #31]
You got that right Hellstrom [New Avengers #31]

Let’s bring it back to the MCU now though, as Doctor Strange is likely to be a hugely important character when he makes his debut towards the end of the year. Up until now magic and mysticism have been mainly relegated to the likes of Red Skull and the Avenger’s Scarlet Witch, but even Wanda’s witchy powers have been dialled all the way down, reduced to energy manipulation and a level of psychic manipulation.

Not only will Doctor Strange open up the doors to magic, it will also further introduce ideas of extra-dimensional travel ( ), something which is likely to lead into the long awaited . It wouldn’t even be a stretch for the Sorcerer Supreme himself to pop up in this movie — although Cumberbatch’s busy schedule and the already impressive cast-list for Ragnarok makes this unlikely.

Doctor Strange was also involved in the Infinity Gauntlet story arc of the comics as the protector of the Soul Gem — one of the six Infinity Stones (call ’em Gems if you’re a comic purist) that is yet to be uncovered in the MCU.

Strange and the Illuminati protect the Infinity Gems [New Avengers: Illuminati #2]

Strange and the Illuminati protect the Infinity Gems [New Avengers: Illuminati #2]

And the Doctor Strange concept art images seemed to suggest that , probably the Time Stone. This means it’s pretty likely that whatever happens in his standalone film will have a direct effect on the upcoming two-parter, the cumulation of the MCU Phase 3.

And hey, even if we’re well off the mark with our predictions at least we’re going to be treated to something pretty special in Doctor Strange, as even MCU cast members from other franchises are getting pretty excited about the mystical movie ( ).

Doctor Strange is directed by Scott Derrickson, and scheduled for release November 4, 2016.

What do you want to see in the Doctor Strange movie? Got any predictions for how his appearance will change the MCU? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!


MP Staff Writer. Superheroes, comic books, Marvel and DC, film, sci-fi, video games.