Doctor Strange: 15 Things You Didn't Know About The Cloak Of Levitation

Doctor Strange Calendar Benedict Cumberbatch

Arguably the best character from Doctor Strange, the Cloak of Levitation has garnered quite a fan base to date. Wearing a cape, or a cloak for that matter, is a quintessential staple for many superheroes. Just try to imagine Superman swooping in without his signature cape, or Thor without his cloak billowing in the breeze— something about those images is clearly off.

A cape has certainly a become a cultural icon when it comes to superheroes. We’ve seen heroes wearing cloaks as a symbol, representing hope that there’s going to be justice served, a theme that resounds will all of us in this day and age. Sure, plenty of superheroes (even the morally ambiguous ones) seem to do just fine without, just look at Deadpool or Wolverine, but we can’t deny the fact that sporting a cape speaks volumes without saying a word.

Let’s get the full diagnosis with 15 Things You Didn't Know About The Cloak Of Levitation.

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15 It was featured in alternative timelines, including Guardians of the Galaxy and others involving Wolverine

Hulk and Doctor Strange

In 1972, Marvel Premiere #1 featured Doctor Strange as the Necromancer. Inhabiting a world called Counter Earth, Strange still donned the same cloak. Doctor Strange also appeared in the Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1 (1991). In another timeline for Earth 691, Doctor Strange bequeaths his mantle and Cloak of Levitation to an alien sorcerer called Krugarr. In Silver Surfer #55 (1991), Thanos uses the Cloak to hang Doctor Strange in an alternative reality with the Infinity Gauntlet. Yet, in Infinity Gauntlet #1-6 (1991), Thanos manipulates the gauntlet to control all of time and reality, but Strange survives with his cloak intact.

In Captain Marvel #30 (2002), the Cloak of Levitation plays a role in "Future Imperfect", featuring the Hulk. Set in a post-apocalyptic future after a nuclear war, the Cloak of Levitation is shown in the possession of the Hulk's associate, Rick Jones. The Cloak is stolen by an alternative version of Rick Jones called Thanatos.

In "What If..." Vol. 2 #24 (April 1991), an alternate timeline features Wolverine as Lord of the Vampires. Doctor Strange gives the Cloak of Levitation and the Eye of Agamotto to the Punisher so he can fight him. The Punisher fights Wolverine to the death, who rips the Cloak and takes the Eye from him. In Wolverine Giant-Size Old Man Logan (Sept. 2009), the Cloak is shown in the possession of the Red Skull, an evil ruler of a post-apocalyptic America.

14 First appeared in Strange Tales #127

Strange Tales Comic Doctor Strange

Created by Steve Ditko, the Cloak of Levitation was first spotted in Strange Tales #127, which was published on December 10, 1964. In the comic, Doctor Strange is gearing up for his "Duel With The Dread Dormammu!", and spends time exploring the Dark Dimension. Strange ended up in part of the realm with evil humanoid creatures called the Mindless Ones, which were barricaded away by a mysterious woman known as Clea. Doctor Strange fans will instantly recognize her, as Clea plays a significant role in the Dark Dimension and eventually becomes his lover.

Doctor Strange begins his duel against the Dread Dormammu, and eventually the barrier blocking the Mindless Ones is broken, and the monsters are unleashed. Doctor Strange uses his power to help create a seal to block them from traveling. In exchange, Dormammu agrees to Strange's terms and promises not to invade Earth.

When Doctor Strange returns to his teacher, the Ancient One, he is granted two powerful relics. Overjoyed by his victory, the Ancient One bequeaths the red Cloak of Levitation and the Eye of Agamotto to Doctor Strange as a reward. With heavy use of alliterations from spells like the “Vapors of Valtorr!”, fans will definitely understand how the original comic book inspiration comes into play. Strange and his red Cloak have already captured imaginations in the recent film, and perhaps we’ll get to see Clea in a future installment to the series.

13 The original cloak was blue, and the design has changed over the years

Origin of Doctor Strange Blue Cloak

Doctor Strange might look, well, strange without his iconic red cloak, but as we mentioned previously, the Cloak of Levitation wasn’t always part of his signature style. In the comics, Doctor Strange originally wore a blue cloak, not the bright red version that’s become synonymous with him. In the film, things play out a little differently for Strange. Instead of receiving the Cloak from the Ancient One, he ends up teaming up with the Cloak by accident.

While the Cloak of Levitation grants Doctor Strange the power to hover above the ground, the filming process wasn’t so effortless. One version of the Cloak of Levitation worn by Cumberbatch included strapping into an elaborate harness while he was filming. The incredible visual effects create an overall majestic look in the final shots on screen, but Benedict Cumberbatch certainly had his work cut out for him on set.  In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Cumberbatch revealed, “What was difficult was going for a bathroom break. You'd have to get out of it all and put it back on again. It was just arduous for everyone.” Ouch!

12 it needs to be repaired

Doctor Strange Concept Art Cloak of Levitation

The Cloak of Levitation might seem like an invincible all-powerful relic, but just like any other type of garment, it can fall victim to a little wear and tear over time. In the earlier comics, the Cloak was an indispensable accessory for Doctor Strange and had required a little touch up from a volume released in August 1986. In Doctor Strange II #78, Doctor Strange battled Khat the demon and the Cloak of Levitation took extensive damage. Strange tried to repair it on his own using mystic energy, but to no avail. Reading through some of his old scrolls, he decided to contact Enitharmon the Weaver to help fix it. Doctor Strange traveled to his mythical realm and showed him the damaged Cloak, which Enitharmon promised to fix. In Doctor Strange II #81, Strange became injured through a battle with the evil sorcerer Urthona. Enitharmon sent over his apprentice, Rintrah, to return the repaired Cloak of Levitation and to help him fight with Urthona.

Enitharmon the Weaver is also mentioned briefly in Marvel's Doctor Strange: The Junior Novel. When battling it out with Kaecilius, Strange levitates above his opponent, and Kaecilius mutters, “The Cloak of Levitation. Twelfth-century design by the weaver Enitharmon. Has a mind of its own.” Given that the Cloak has garnered such a huge fan base, we suspect that we’ll be hearing more about its origins in Doctor Strange 2.

11 It can change shape, like a business suit, and changes into a different version for every Sorcerer Supreme

Doctor Strange - Benedict Cumberbatch - Cape

The Cloak of Levitation is known for its bright red hue and slightly unusual style, completely fitting for an accessory of Doctor Strange. In the film, the Cloak is given an intriguing revamp, with the finished design incorporating patchwork pieces, some embroidered details, and even a slightly asymmetrical cut. Unlike some other superhero capes, the Cloak of Levitation actually possesses the ability to change shape, and can even shift into other garments, like a business suit, a trench coat or even a poncho.

Depending on the wearer, the Cloak of Levitation actually transform into a new design altogether. According to DK Book’s Marvel Avengers Encyclopedia, Doctor Strange works as a member of the Illuminati in the comics and exiles Hulk from Earth. However, the Hulk returns soon after, seeking to fight with Doctor Strange. Strange temporarily grants the title of Sorcerer Supreme to Jericho Drumm, also known as Brother Voodoo. Drumm also inherits the Cloak of Levitation, which changes shape slightly to fit the new Sorcerer Supreme.

10 It can resist powerful attacks, including weapons used by Asgardians

Doctor Strange character poster

The time-bending Eye of Agamotto isn’t the only powerful weapon in Doctor Strange’s arsenal. In fact, the cloak can resist powerful damage from more than just physical attacks. When duking it out with the Wrecker, a supervillain dating back to Thor #148 (1968), the cloak was impervious to a direct attack from the Asgardian's crowbar. By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth! Looks like the Cloak of Levitation isn’t anything to sneer at.

In other comics, the Cloak acts as a shield for Doctor Strange, and comes to his aid by blindfolding opponents in battle. When he can’t fly out of the way, Doctor Strange relies on casting spells to open portals in order to get out of harm’s way. Of course, Strange learned about the ability to astral project from the Ancient One. Being able to separate his astral form from his tangible form is a powerful ability, but it does leave the physical body in a vulnerable state. At least Doctor Strange has the Cloak of Levitation to watch his back.

9 Inspired by the “wand chooses the wizard” scene in Harry Potter

Wandmakers in Harry Potter World

At first glance, fans might draw a parallel between the Cloak of Levitation from Doctor Strange and the Invisibility Cloak donned by Harry Potter. While we’ve listed out some of the major differences between the two, such as the powers possessed by the Cloak of Levitation, there are a few similarities that you may not know about. In fact, director Scott Derrickson told Indiewire, “I always liked the idea in ‘Potter’ that you don’t choose the wand — the wand chooses you, and that relics decide when you’re ready to handle them. I’m a cinephile first and a filmmaker second and it’s all swimming in the subconscious.”

For our Muggle friends, the inspiration he’s referring to stems from the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. In the scene, Harry visits Ollivander’s wand shop and tries out a few various wands for himself. Mr. Ollivander, played by John Hurt,  famously tells him, “It’s the wand that chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter. It’s not always clear why. I think it is clear that we can expect great things from you.” When it comes to how Doctor Strange and the Cloak of Levitation actually team up in the film, we can definitely see how Derrickson was inspired by Harry Potter as well.

8 Originally over 12 versions were created, plus a CGI version for the film

Doctor Strange concept art with Benedict Cumberbatch

Next to the Eye of Agamotto, the Cloak of Levitation is one of Doctor Strange’s most iconic accessories by far. Marvel costume designer Alexandra Byrne is the creative mastermind behind the cloak’s finished design. Byrne's no stranger to the costume design world, especially after being nominated for Academy Awards since the late '90s and nabbing her first Oscar win for Elizabeth: The Golden Age in 2007. Byrne also lent her design skills for other installments in the MCU, such as Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy.

In Marvel's Doctor Strange: The Art of the Movie, Byrne highlighted her creative experience with creating the cloak, ending up with what she calls “a graveyard of prototypes”. It’s possible that we even catch a glimpse at some of these other variations in the bonus features of the DVD. The goal was to make an inanimate object with life and energy, and Byrne realized that she wasn’t going to figure that out by simply drawing out ideas. As for the cloak’s unique design, Byrne said, “The cloak was a huge challenge because it has to do so many things... I wanted to really continue the idea of the tone-on-tone detail: There's embroidery, there's leatherwork. There's flocking. There's printing and many more things. It just adds up to this being, this sentient cloak.” Instead of merely replicating a cloned version of the Cloak of Levitation straight from the pages of the comics, Byrne created a fresh and original design that speaks for itself.

7 It has mean hand-to-hand combat skills

Doctor Strange Benedict Cumberbatch Superpowers

When it comes to looks alone, the Cloak of Levitation may resemble a little red riding hood, but based on its skill set, it’s anything but. In the comics, the Cloak of Levitation might have looked a little flamboyant, but it certainly came to the aid of Doctor Strange when he was in a bind. In the film, the Cloak warded off attacks from Kaecilius, along with blindfolding one of his zealous henchmen and giving him an ultimate smash down.

For director Scott Derrickson, creating a newer, more relatable version of the cloak was key. He aimed to make the two key items, the Cloak of Levitation and the Eye of Agamotto, very unique on screen, and wanted to show viewers that these artifacts had a presence beyond what you might see from other superheroes. In Marvel's Doctor Strange: The Art of the Movie, Derrickson noted, “The Cloak of Levitation is so specific. It has a personality, it does things even apart from Doctor Strange. I do take very seriously the need to bring the Cloak of Levitation into the modern world—to make it cool, to make it believable and interesting, and to make people feel about it now the way I felt when I first read the comics.”

6 in recent comics, it Saved Doctor Strange, but was ripped to shreds by alien clones

Doctor Strange Marvel Comics

In the more recent comics, Doctor Strange fights against a formidable alien species called the Empirikul, hell bent on destroying all forms of magic. After killing numerous versions of sorcerers and mystic users across the world, the cloned Empirikul confront Doctor Strange at the New York Sanctum Sanctorum in full force. When the Imperator attacks Doctor Strange, the Cloak of Levitation valiantly comes to his rescue, and yet the Imperator easily ripped it in two. Having underestimated his technologically enhanced opponents, Strange narrowly escapes and ends up searching for any traces of magic on Earth.

It’s worth noting that Strange keeps the damaged Cloak, so there’s still some hope that it may be repaired in future comics. Written by Jason Aaron and penciled by Chris Bachalo, fans can find out what happens next in Doctor Strange #14, where he faces the villainous Nightmare, Satanna, and Master Pandemonium, available as of today.

5  5. Director says it's like the Magic Carpet from Aladdin, but "not quite as sentient"

Doctor Strange Cloak of Levitation Magic Carpet

Many fans of Doctor Strange have already made amusing comparisons to the magic carpet from Aladdin, another inanimate object with a larger-than-life personality. In the comics, the cloak does help Doctor Strange when he’s in a bind, often smothering opponents or even blindfolding them. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Scott Derrickson said that the cloak is not even as sentient as the magic carpet from Aladdin. The 1992 animated Disney film remains a beloved classic, and we rounded up a list of possible actors who could play a live-action Aladdin for the Guy Ritchie-directed version that’s on deck.

In the 2015 Doctor Strange comic, there’s a small easter egg which pays homage to the magic carpet itself. After the evil Empirikul destroy all traces of magic from the world, a few amusing panels feature well-known stories and what becomes of their fate without magic. One frame shows Jasmine and Aladdin tumbling off of a now-lifeless magic carpet, opposite of another panel which shows Harry Potter in a cupboard under the stairs, desperately trying to use his wand, to no avail.

4 The stunt team was heavily involved with its creation

Weak Protection - Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange

Although some of the cloak’s moments were originally found in the script, many of the action-packed sequences were not. “It was really a collaborative process in terms of ideas for the cloak. We tried stuff in pre-viz, worked things into the script, and did a lot of work with the stunt team... Originally, there were a lot of cloak moments in the chase sequence through the streets of New York, but it was running pretty long, so we couldn’t [include] too many of them,” director Scott Derrickson told Yahoo. Based on this, it looks like we might be able to see more of the Cloak of Levitation in action in some deleted scenes.

In Marvel's Doctor Strange: The Art of the Movie, visual effects supervisor Stephane Ceretti also noted how the stunt team was pivotal to creating the bond between Strange and the cloak. “They really took it and made it more of a character in the way it fights against Kaecilius and in how it prevents Strange from making mistakes-- it was a real journey of discovery and collaboration. As we see the cloak and Strange interact throughout the film, we see a real bond. The cloak is way more in control of Strange in the beginning—but by the end of the film, it's a partnership for sure,” Ceretti added.

3 it's a relic with a mysterious history

Benedict Cumberbatch

Released July 6, 2016, Marvel's Doctor Strange Prelude explored the last days of Kaecilius at Kamar-Taj, fighting to recover a powerful, ancient relic which was stolen from the British Museum. While the cloak isn’t explicitly mentioned, we spotted it in one panel, where it’s featured in a glass case at the Sanctum Sanctorum in New York.

According to the Mysterious World of Doctor Strange, the red-and-yellow cloak previously belonged to the Ancient One in the comics. It was later given to Doctor Strange as a reward for his victory against his first battle with Dormammu.

Earlier in the film, Mordo explains that relics are enhanced objects, imbued with magic that's too powerful for sorcerers to sustain. Wong defends the Hong Kong Sanctum Sanctorum using one of the six Wands of Watoomb, while Mordo leaps through the air using the Vaulting Boots of Valtorr.

In the film, Strange might not think much of it earlier on, but the Cloak comes to his rescue and blocks several devastating blows from Kaecilius. Later, Mordo seems shock, barely hiding his surprise that Strange is able to wear it, while the Ancient One commends him, saying, “No minor feat. It’s a fickle thing.” Looks like Strange was finally chosen by a relic, at last.

2 Created by the same VFX company that made Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy

Rocket Racoon in Guardians of the Galaxy

Last week, we took a closer look at the VFX process involved with the Cloak of Levitation. Visual effects supervisor Stephane Ceretti revealed that Framestore helped bring the cloak to life, the same VFX company that worked on Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy. “Normally if we were making a CG cloak we would just simulate the cloth,” says Mark Wilson, VFX Supervisor over at Framestore. “But this cloak needed to be directed; it is its own character. So the animators animating the cloak could see simplified dynamics in their scene to get a good representation of it.” The Oscar-winning creative studio boasts a well-versed portfolio of work, lending their talents to sci-fi thrillers like Gravity, Robocop, and the Martian.

Most of the interaction between Strange and the Cloak was scripted off the bat, but it ended up expanding into a bigger role as time went on. Ceretti compared the story to the relationship between a horse and a rider, and how eventually they learn to trust each other and work together over time. We'll have to wait and see more of Doctor Strange in Thor: Ragnarok and The Avengers: Infinity War.

1 The cloak wiping away Doctor Strange's tears was not in the script

Doctor Strange IMAX poster excerpt

Towards the end of the film, an emotionally poignant scene shows Doctor Strange shedding a few tears after the passing of the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and saying farewell to Doctor Palmer (Rachel McAdams). Suiting up to take on the next threat to the universe, Strange reflects for a few moments, looking at himself in the mirror. While the swelling score signals that this might be just another overly dramatic superhero moment, the Cloak of Levitation steals the show. The Cloak’s collar droops, and suddenly starts dabbing frantically at his face, much to Strange’s dismay.

“The moment with the wiping of the tears – that was Benedict Cumberbatch’s idea,” Director Scott Derrickson said to Entertainment Weekly. “It was not in the script, and it was his idea on the day we were shooting it. ‘He said what if the cloak wipes my tears?’ I thought that was hilarious. So I said pull your collar up and we’ll make it a big superhero movie moment, then we’ll deflate it.” Marvel’s all about those subtle yet laugh-inducing moments, and this one comes at no exception. We’re definitely glad that this one made the cut.

We know that we want to see more of the Cloak of Levitation, especially because we listed it as the number one thing we want to see more of in Doctor Strange 2!  

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