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'Doctor Strange' Character Breakdown: 10 Things to Know Before Catching the Film

Marvel’s newest superhero to hit the screens this fall is the eccentric Doctor Strange. Played by Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch, the latest comic book universe sees an eye-popping extravaganza with city-bending moments reminiscent to Christopher Nolan’s Inception. Set to release on Friday, November 4 in the U.S. the film will explore a whole new area of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: magic.

The good Doctor’s name was first mentioned in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and though he’s not on the same level of popularity as Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, Doctor Strange will most likely become a major player. Though Strange is considered a cult favorite figure, it is only now that he joins the other big-screen protagonists. To get you well-versed for his first solo film, here are 10 things you need to know about the Sorcerer Supreme – aka the Master of the Mystic Arts, if you will – before you go see the film.


The character of Doctor Strange was first unveiled by Marvel Comics in Strange Tales #110 back in July of 1963… which explains the psychedelic sixties influence. Created by artist Steve Ditko and comic legend Stan Lee, Strange is actually one of Marvel’s earliest characters and is in fact older than many of those who have been featured in the MCU before him.

He Really Is a Doctor

Before he put on the cloak, Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange was a gifted neurosurgeon but extremely selfish and egotistical in his ways. However, his career and life were “ruined” when he was involved in a debilitating accident, leaving him unable to perform surgery. Refusing to take a teaching or consulting position, Strange opts instead to find a way to restore his prized tools… no matter what it took.

The Ancient One Is His Mentor

Spending all his time and money on finding a way to put his life back on track, Strange travels to the Himalayas where he eventually meets a mysterious hermit in Tibet known as the Ancient One. In the graphic novels, the Ancient One is an old Asian man, however, an androgynous Tilda Swinton plays the film’s counterpart. Taking him on as an apprentice, the Ancient One teaches Strange the ways of the mystical arts, with the ultimate aim of having Strange replace him as the Sorcerer Supreme.

His Arch-Nemesis Is Baron Karl Mordo

Initially the two were friends, but with Mordo’s thirst for power, it quickly led him down the path of the dark side, causing the friendship to turn for the worse. Although their mystical abilities are similar, the Baron frequently uses black magic and summons demons, something Strange is hesitant to do. Strange’s Transylvanian nemesis will be played by 12 Years a Slave’s Chiwetel Ejiofor.

His Most Powerful Enemy Is Dormammu

Ruler of the nightmarish Dark Dimension and an incorporeal being of pure energy, Dormammu – who is also Mordo’s master – has been described as “something worse than a demon.” Inhabiting a wholly alien realm, separate from the rest of the MCU, Dormammu can never really be harmed or killed and holds unlimited powers. However, he is not completely unbeatable since his abilities weaken when outside of his own dimension. It’s unsure if we will see Dormammu in the first film or not – though he is something that needs to be built up to. However, it’s only a matter of time before he’s introduced into the MCU because he’s definitely one villain to look forward to.

His Sidekick Is Wong

Assigned by the Ancient One to assist Strange, Wong (who amusingly is played by Benedict Wong) comes from an ancient order of Chinese monks. Over the years the two have become very close friends. Though Wong doesn’t have any superpowers, he is well versed in mystical knowledge and not surprisingly a kicka** martial artist who has trained Strange in self-defense along with some of the other Marvel characters.

He Has a Collection of Magical Artifacts

On his own, the good Doctor is already quite powerful having mastered a variety of different spells. However, many of Doctor Strange’s abilities come from magical artifacts such as the red cape he wears. Known as the Cloak of Levitation, he doesn’t just wear it for superhero street style, it actually allows him to fly. What can be found around his neck is the Eye of Agamotto, which allows him to see through mystical allusions. What also lies among Strange’s possessions is the Orb of Agamotto (which made a cameo in Thor), gifting him with clairvoyant powers also allowing him to detect magic being used anywhere. All three of these objects once belonged to Agamotto, a powerful entity that was Earth’s first Sorcerer Supreme.

His House Would Make Tony Stark Envious

Located at 177A Bleeker Street in New York City’s Greenwich Village, Strange’s three-story mansion is a magical stronghold, which he calls the Sanctum Sanctorum. Thanks to a little bit of magic, the inside is a lot bigger than its outside would have you assume. Protected by a variety of spells, the Sanctum Sanctorum also acts as one of the HQs for the Avengers in the graphic novels. Perhaps we will get to see this in future movies as well, along with Iron Man and Doctor Strange trying to one-up each other.

He Has Numerous Team Affiliations

Though Doctor Strange is typically off doing his own thing, he is also a member of several superhero teams. Most often he is connected with the Defenders, a team of Marvel hero loners such as the Hulk, Namor and Silver Surfer. But since the Defenders of the MCU will consist of street-level heroes like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, it’s doubtful Strange will be a member of this incarnation. Strange is also associated with the Illuminati, a group of superheroes that make the most controversial, covert decisions that the Marvel Universe has ever seen; they even shot the Hulk into space once. His other teams also include New Avengers, The Order and Midnight Sons. In the film adaptations, he is most likely to join the Avengers considering he’s been a part of the New Avengers on and off again since Civil War ended.

This Is Not the First Movie Attempt for Doctor Strange

Since the ‘80s a Doctor Strange movie has been in talks without anything ever coming to fruition. Finally in 2009, Marvel reignited work on the movie, with the likes of Ewan McGregor, Jared Leto, and Tom Hardy rumored to be in contention for the lead role. Now after about 30 years later, a Doctor Strange movie is finally happening.

Just like all Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies in the past, Doctor Strange promises to be something to look forward to, and from what we have seen and heard, there’s no doubt this movie will bring something totally new to Marvel’s film world. Fans and newbies should be in for a visual treat come Friday, November 4. But will it be worth the wait?