When you can astrally project, stop time dead in its tracks using chewing gum and carry around an Eye of Agamotto, there’s pretty much no limit to what you can accomplish. That’s why Doctor Strange is one of the most powerful beings in all of comics and why his appearance in the MCU is so exciting.
What’s so mesmerizing about his superpowers is their range. From straight-up fisticuffing to reality-warping mind games, and everything in between, none have as eclectic mix of abilities as the Master of the Mystic Arts. We’ve already taken a look at everything you didn’t know about the man himself, so why not now delve a little deeper into his magic and reveal the lesser known skills floating around his bag of tricks. There’s no telling what the Sorcerer Supreme will conjure up on big screens in the years ahead, but hopefully a few of the following will appear.
Here are 15 Superpowers You Didn’t Know Doctor Strange Had.
15. Astral Projection
If there’s one word thrown around a lot when talking about Stephen Strange’s powers, it’s “astral.” In fact, it was the first power he ever used in his debut during 1963’s Strange Tales #110. While we’re sure many people are well aware of this ability, what it exactly means for the Sorcerer Supreme to project himself into a nonphysical realm of existence can be confusing.
Basically, Doctor Strange can leave his physical body as a ghostly astral form. Imagine Casper, only with a goatee. While in this state, Strange doesn’t need to breathe, eat, drink or sleep, can phase through anything, is invisible (except to Hulk) and is unrestricted by the physical laws of the universe. There are a few downsides however. According to Strange Tales #121, if he doesn’t return to his body within 24 hours, the body dies and the mystic is trapped in his ghostly state until he dissipates into nothingness. Also, his physical body is helpless while he gets his astral form on– so much so that if the body is moved, the unaware spectral sorcerer has to find it– making Doctor Strange one fun superhero to play hide and seek with.
14. Martial Arts
Now we know what you’re thinking. Martial arts isn’t exactly a superpower and most people already know Doctor Strange is a kung fu master. But few realize just how amazing his karate skills truly are.
Because sometimes sorcery just won’t do, Stephen has been trained in the ancient ways of hand-to-hand ass-kicking. In fact, the Doctor Strange movie could be called a supernatural martial arts film. And thanks to his skilled ally Wong, the Sorcerer Supreme is eternally kept in peak fighting condition. Which came in really handy when he had to evade a kung-fu hand chop from Mantis. To give you an idea of how impressive that maneuver was, only three other beings in existence can avoid her strikes and she’s been known to physically subdue Thor despite his superior strength one thousand times over. What’s more, not only has Strange easily taken Wolverine and gone up against the Hand, but in Doctor Strange #140 he defeated Dormammu in a battle of pure martial arts. So basically he’s what would happen if Bruce Lee and David Copperfield had a baby.
13. Time Travel and Manipulation
Many of Doctor Strange’s superpowers are an extension of his astral acuity. Perhaps the coolest of these are his abilities related to time. Since all physical laws are meaningless on the astral plane, while Stephen Strange is floating around the nonphysical realm he can move at any speed desired, making him a contender for fastest superhero ever. For example he once traversed four different dimensions in the length of time it took to finish a single phrase. Suck on that, Wally West.
Even more impressive, thanks to his chronokinetic powers to mentally alter time, Doctor Strange can freeze, slow, and travel through time on a whim. In Doctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme #17, he teaches time travel to his girlfriend-turned-apprentice Clea (it’s easier than you think), and a few issues later he wills the entire world’s flow of time to cease. It’s a trick that makes Doctor Strange very popular as a party magician.
12. Fearlessness and Immortality (Kind Of)
Being fearless might not seem like a superpower (don’t tell Daredevil), but leave it to Doctor Strange to turn it into something magical. In 1974’s Doctor Strange #4, the Sorcerer Supreme literally meets Death and after battling it, successfully overcomes his fear of dying. As an added bonus he obtains infinite longevity, meaning he can no longer age and only die by means of physcial violence. Sounds like as good an excuse as any to quit superheroing and just hang around all day eating Carl’s Jr.
Despite needing to still eat, breath, and sleep, Doctor Strange will never succumb to disease. The Ancient One passed a similar test and ended up having a ball for 600 years. And as a reaffirmation of his livelihood, whenever the Sorcerer Supreme finds himself in a situation of great danger or imminent death, the glowing Ankh of Enduring Life occasionally appears on his forehead. You know, as a reminder not to screw this up.
11. Energy Blasts
From Bolts of Bedevilment to Crystals of Cndriarr, Daggers of Daveroth to Flames of Faltine, Doctor Strange has quite the collection of energy blasts at his disposal. We are all familiar with the tactic. Cyclops, Jubilee, Iron Man, Vision, Goku, and Ryu all have their own versions of this powerful weapon. But when the Master of the Mystic Arts has need to shoot energy out his surgically precise hands, he does so with a flourish only a supreme magician can conjure.
How or when Doctor Strange determines to use a particular incantation to invoke an energy blast is not always clear. Sometimes we get the impression he just likes saying things like, “Bolts of Balthakk, Winds of Watoomb… sweep back these hordes from Doctor Doom!” But regardless of what gibberish he uses to precipitate his attack, they all seem to have pretty much the same effect – obliterating the competition.
10. Spirit Possession
Given that Doctor Strange has made a career of tinkering with magic, both dark and light, it’s no surprise that he can call upon otherworldly forces. Using incantations and mystical artifacts, the Sorcerer Supreme can channel the extra-dimensional energy of non-mystical beings to power his spells. Perhaps you’ve heard of the unbreakable Crimson Bands of Cyttorak or the misty Moons of Munnopor. Being a divine conduit has earned Strange a rep for being “as powerful as the god he invokes“, which makes him formidable to say the least.
But these divine sources aren’t the only powers he can take possession of. Doctor Strange, through sheer will power and unaided by any magical spells, can take the power of another entity or even possess their body. When doing so, he absorbs their minds and assumes their duties in the dimension in which they exist– though he runs the risk of completely losing himself in character.
Despite being considered black magic, he has used this power on several occasions, such as in Doctor Strange #80 when he borrowed the body of someone nearby to assist in a surgery on himself. Perhaps the most famous was when he called upon the demonic Zom to try and stop World War Hulk after getting his hands smashed. Ultimately Hulk smashed Zom too and, as a result of trifling in black magic, Strange was stripped of his Sorcerer Supreme title (temporarily).
One of the perks of being a Sorcerer Supreme is that you get to banish whomever you like to whatever dimension you desire. Through the utterance of a few words Doctor Strange even has the know-how to exile someone to a specific time. So the next time someone’s getting on your nerves try throwing out, “Let the vapors of the Vishanti drive you from the sight of man! Let the mystic Hosts of Hoggoth prevent you from ever returning again!”
The only caveat is Strange’s magic must be greater than that of the being he’s banishing. As hard as it might be to believe, there are a few who outrank him. But aside from that, there seems to be no limit to the kind of things Doctor Strange can banish, like restraints or the effects of mind control. He’s even banished the page of a book… and an evil bird. So one thing is for sure: don’t ever get on Doctor Strange’s bad side.
8. Creating Clones of Himself
Can we ever get enough Doctor Strange? Luckily we will never have to find out, thanks to his ability to infinitely clone himself. This particularly impressive talent first appeared in Strange Tales #123, when the Sorcerer Supreme went up against Loki and gave him an uber-taste of his own prankster medicine.
Trying to trick the doctor into using magic to get ahold of Thor’s hammer, Loki throws all his tricks at Strange. Adeptly dodging each attack, the Master of the Mystic Arts eventually pulls a rarely used illusion spell out of his figurative hat when he creates an army of independently acting replicants. A few issues later we find out these doubles have the ability not just to look good, but also to hypnotize people as well, all on their own. We can imagine fans of Benedict Cumberbatch are crossing their fingers this superpower finds its way into their lives soon.
Though Doctor Strange has a multitude of ways to get his point across, his most powerful abilities reside in mentalism. Even on an off day, the good doctor can read minds with the best of them. Throw in a mystical amplification via the Eye of Agamotto and his psychic abilities are among the greatest in the universe.
Some the Sorcerer Supreme’s more mind-boggling mental feats include transferring Eternity’s consciousness into Storm’s mind, preventing Warlock from altering his memories using the Mind Gem, and defeating the potent sorceress Umar in telepathic combat. Then there’s the coup de grâce: Doctor Strange unleashed his own brand of the Penance Stare on Galactus in Fantastic Four #243. By calling upon the Images of Ikonn to reach into “the darkest corners of his mind to confront Galactus with the ghosts of all he has slain,” the near-omnipotent Devourer of Worlds was left freaking out and screaming like a little kid.
Any magician worth their weight in wand can transform one thing into another. You know, like turning regular balloons into balloon animals. So it should come as no surprise that Doctor Strange can transmute with the best of them.
While the Sorcerer Supreme has yet to display the alchemical ability to alter objects on a cosmic scale– like, say, turning a planet into a Kit Kat– he does make handy use of the transformative skills he possesses. Like when he needs to pay the bills and so conjures up some gold. Or when he destroyed Hitler’s evil handgun by transmuting it into a bunch of fireflies (long story). However, it has been inferred that the Master of the Mystic Arts is incapable of using magic to replicate anything discovered by human science… but that kind of depends on what you define as a “science.” After all he did once transmute a butter knife into a flaming sword. That said, Doctor Strange is unusually awful at making balloon animals.
5. Destroying Vampires
Vampires have been biting their way through the Marvel Universe for over 15,000 years, as any fan of Blade is well aware. What most probably don’t know is that Doctor Strange is an equally skilled vampire hunter.
In fact, Strange has had some pretty epic battles with Dracula. In Tomb of Dracula #44, the fanged king actually bit the Sorcerer Supreme, but luckily he astral projected just in time to avoid being completely turned. This set the stage for a climatic battle in Doctor Strange Vol 2 #62, where Strange was able to arm himself with the ultimate vampiric weapon. By calling upon an incantation known as the Montesi Formula, Doctor Strange has the power to destroy all Earth’s vampires in one fell swoop, instantly reducing them to a pile of ash. Unfortunately, a few years later it was revealed this was only a temporary fix and most of the vampires returned, but for a while there Doctor Strange was the man in Transylvania and hated by Team Edward.
4. Sleep Protection
Being one of the most powerful superheroes in the universe, it’s not hard to imagine Doctor Strange has made some enemies, which makes things like napping a real pain. As Sorcerer Supreme you never know when someone’s going to try to kill you in your sleep. Luckily, this Master of the Mystic Arts has got that got covered and can rest easy thanks to his sleep protection powers.
Some people say their prayers every night before going to bed. Some take a pill. Others chug a handle of vodka. Doctor Strange on the other hand chants a spell that keeps him safe from any harm while in repose. The only downside is that it only works for one sleep cycle. As we found out in Strange Tales #122 when he nods off unexpectedly and the ironically-named demon Nightmare haunts him. You would think after an event like that and his temporary anti-vampire spell, Doctor Strange might start trying to come up with longer-lasting powers.
3. Dream Walking
That’s right, Doctor Strange can walk through your dreams. In fact, he has said that “my first lessons were in dream walking.” It’s an awesome way to kick off Sorcerer Supreme school and is probably why during his comics debut in Strange Tales #110, he entered the dreams of some random guy who was having nightmares. It’s telling that while floating around that poor dude’s head, Strange met for the first time one of his greatest foes; Nightmare, who is basically Freddy Krueger of the Marvel Universe.
By entering into his astral form, the Master of the Mystic Arts is able to enter anyone’s dreams. He once helped Tony Stark out of a coma using this power and has even explored the nightmares of Ghost Rider Jonny Blaze using the Atlantean Dreamwave artifact. Sure, this all makes Doctor Strange sound like a glorified psychiatrist, but how many shrinks do you know that actually punch your dreams in the face?
2. Universal Awareness
Universal awareness is just as extraordinary as it sounds. Through enhanced consciousness and some focused meditation, Doctor Strange can obtain a oneness with the universe that allows him to perceive things well beyond the five physical senses. This includes the ability to see the magical realm hidden beneath reality. Which means he can notice all that interdimensional bacteria eating our faces on a regular basis.
This heightened awareness, aided by the Eye of Agamotto, also means Strange can sense anomalies in time and space. All of which better prepares him to protect against would-be time travelers, space invaders or evil elements from other dimensions like Dormammu or Nightmare. Similarly, he can walk into a room and see what has happened before his arrival by visually rewinding everything inside it, in essence watching a living replay of the past. This must make using public restrooms a horrifying experience for Doctor Strange.
1. Speaking in Symbols
As with a few other items on this list, speaking in symbols doesn’t immediately appear to fit. Entertaining? Yes. Confusing? Most definitely. But as with nearly everything Doctor Strange summons, it’s not so much the act as it is the result that makes the power super. In 2015’s New Avengers #27 we learn Strange has joined up a with a group of telepaths known as the Black Priests who travel the multiverse to prevent cross-universe incursions. While hanging out with them he became an expert in their ancient ways of speaking in symbols. Which is great news for anyone who’s ever wondered how to pronounce Prince’s former name.
The details of this language are confusing and entirely irrelevant. All that matters is Doctor Strange can now create many of the powers he previously had to use intricate spells and artifacts to achieve, making him even more powerful than he was before. So all those who say Doctor Strange is only as supreme as the spells he invokes or the artifacts he wields should probably cover their ears. He could destroy the entire planet by just saying the symbol for “life.” Which makes no sense, but hey, that’s magic for you.
Did we miss any of your favorite Sorcerer Supreme superpowers? Conjure them up in the comments.