Having exceeded $576 million in revenue, Doctor Strange is now the 9th highest grossing movie of 2016. The movie has successfully beat projections every weekend since its release on November 4th, 2016. At this point it seems Disney and Marvel studios are unstoppable. And the success of Doctor Strange is no different. As a matter of fact, its unique vision and inter-dimensional storyline seem to be just what the doctor ordered.
As fantastic and visually stimulating as the movie adaptation is, the Doctor Strange stories from Marvel's comics universe are even crazier still. There are some things that just can't be captured on film, even in the best blockbuster comic movie. For those who only know Strange thanks to the MCU film, you're in for a treat.
And whether you have seen it or not, here are 15 Things You Wouldn't Know About Doctor Strange If You Never Read The Comics.
In one of the most off-beat Doctor Strange related tales, Howard the Duck finds himself stuck in an alternate reality on a planet called Duckworld. There he meets a fowl version of the Sorcerer Supreme, known as Ducktor Strange. The story was featured in issue #6 of an anthropomorphic satire comic book, Howard The Duck, created by Marvel Magazine Group. The series also incorporated many other Marvel superheroes from their traditional line-up, including Spider-Man and the X-Men.
While stuck on Duckworld, Howard runs across a drunken Ducktor Strange, who tells Howard he can send him back to earth. After facing many obstacles and comic hijinks, including a crazy reverend and a wacky cult, Ducktor Strange saves the day by returning Howard and his companion to their rightful dimension. Unfortunately, this is not the only time Howard the Duck teamed up with Doctor Strange. But if you're a duck lover, you'll be pleased to know that in Marvel Treasury Edition #12, everyone's favorite fowl joins the Defenders.
The original Defenders first appeared in Marvel Feature #1 (December 1971) as a trio of heavy hitters made up of Doctor Strange, The Incredible Hulk and The Submariner (aka Namor). Led by Doctor Strange, the group eventually folded The Silver Surfer into their ranks, which solidified their place as one of Marvel's most powerful teams. Let's face it, a powerhouse team like this could easily hold their own against the likes of the Avengers and The Fantastic Four.
The Defenders went through many incarnations over, some of which were formed by Strange himself. Those of you awaiting Netflix's on-screen variation of The Defenders might be interested to know Jessica Jones was never a Defender in the comic book and Iron Fist was only a member for one day. Season 2 of Netflix's Daredevil did touch on some ancient mystical forces but we do not yet have an idea as to whether the onscreen version of The Defenders will continue that storyline.
Since he has such a unique and mysterious power set, we can't always quantify Doctor Strange's actual power levels against other superheroes. As a result, he isn't always included in the top 5 or top 10 most powerful hero lists. However, he has proven himself against some of Marvel's greatest icons. For example, the Doctor has utilized the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak to contain The Hulk on many occasions. Think about that for a moment because in all honesty, there aren't many forces or objects that can contain The Hulk.
In Fantastic Four #243 (1980), the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man were on the losing end of a battle against Galactus when Doctor Strange entered the fight. Using the Images of Ikonn spell, he was able to penetrate the mind of Galactus and turn it against him to win the battle. He also single-handedly defeated the In-Betweener.
While these wins definitely speak to the Sorcerer's overall power levels, it still doesn't express his range. Many heroes harness a multitude of energies and powers. But even among the most versatile characters in comics, Doctor Strange's range is nothing short of impressive. He can control the elements such as wind and fire. He has telepathic and telekinetic capabilities. He can cast a variety of spells, create energy shields, and generate blasts of mystical energy. He can also time travel, teleport, and cross into other dimensions.
After the Kree-Skrull War depicted in Avengers #89–97 (1970 - 1971), Stephen Strange, Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Professor Xavier, Black Bolt. and Prince Namor formed a Marvel Comics version of The Illuminati. The team acted as a secretive group charging themselves with the role of governing the course of super hero relations and threat management for the planet. Each member represented a segment of super beings. Doctor Strange spoke for the magical/mystical community and all related phenomena, Xavier spoke for the mutant community, and Black Bolt represented the Inhumans and so forth.
While many members of the group were seen sporadically, Doctor Strange was one of the most influential mainstays in the series. The group's purpose was to collectively work to stop threats by sharing knowledge and resources. However, their efforts backfired at least once, resulting in an all-out attack on Earth by a shape-shifting race known as the Skrull.
In Doctor Strange #177 (1969) entitled The Cult and The Curse, a group of sorcerers known as the The Sons of Satannish exiled Doctor Strange to a hostile dimension. While he and Clea faced down protoplasmic creatures, Asmodeus took over Doctor Strange's body and sent the Sons of Satannish to a void-like dimension known as Tiboro.
In order to return to our dimension, Doctor Strange was forced to take another form appearing in his blue costume for the first time. Although he eventually defeated Asmodeus, it was not without great sacrifice. And ultimately he had to free the Sons of Satannish from Tiboro, a task for which he recruited The Black Knight, who also fought alongside Strange in multiple incarnations of The Defenders.
Both heroic and villainous magic-workers have been known to recruit others to help them. Where Asmodeus used and ultimately sacrificed the Sons of Satannish, Doctor Strange used the Black Knight and his mystical sword to help save the cult.
In Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #50 1993), the Sorcerer Supreme was cut off from the extra-dimensional entities who gave him his magical abilities. This loss was a punishment which came in direct response to the Doctor's refusal to participate in the War of Seven Spheres.
With diminished powers, he ended up splitting himself into two separate people, Victor Stevens and Strange, in order to defeat a demon sorceress. Each of his forms embodied different aspects of the original character and were called The Strangers. Victor Stevens took on the older persona of the pre-accident Stephen Strange, and displayed all of the qualities you'd expect in a self entitled, arrogant philanthropist. And Strange was a dark magic-wielding, scarier version of Doctor Strange.
Neither of these characters seemed very enlightened. And the new Strange was obviously taken down a few pegs in the power department. After some time, Doctor Strange was able to restore his singular identity and regain most of his powers. But it is important to note that he has never recouped the near god-like power levels he first wielded in earlier retcons.
As mentioned above, Doctor Strange has seen his share of troubles. Even as Sorcerer Supreme, he still answers to greater powers such as the Vishanti and the Ancient One. And he has lost both his powers and his title on multiple occasions. The most notable of these events was in seen The New Avengers #53 (2009), where he was stripped of the Sorcerer Supreme title for using too much black magic.
In spite of fighting for good, his soul had become too dark and impure because he had often dabbled in black magic, feeling it was the only way to fight certain powerful enemies. It seems that even in comic books, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Stephen was replaced as Sorcerer Supreme by Brother Voodoo, who assumed the name Doctor Voodoo. You might have read the hype surrounding Brother Voodoo in regard to a cameo appearance in the Doctor Strange movie. Brother Voodoo lacked the knowledge, experience, and raw power wielded by Doctor Strange, but he made up for it in purity of heart.
The word "white-washed" has been thrown around in regard to the casting choice for the Ancient One, Doctor Strange's Tibetan mentor. The writers chose to go with a white woman. While the choice seems like white-washing, one of the writers spoke out in defense of their choice, feeling as though casting this character was a no-win proposition. Please note when reading the following quote, screenwriter C. Robert Cargill is a bit colorful in his choice of words.
The Ancient One was a racist stereotype who comes from a region of the world that is in a very weird political place. He originates from Tibet. So if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that that’s bullshit and risk the Chinese government going, ‘Hey, you know one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political.’ If we decide to go the other way and cater to China in particular and have him be in Tibet… If you think it’s a good idea to cast a Chinese actress as a Tibetan character, you are out of your damn fool mind and have no idea what the f--- you’re talking about.
In New Avengers (2nd series) #34, Brother Voodoo's sibling, Daniel Drumm, possessed many of the Avengers' bodies, including Luke Cage and The Red Hulk. Using the plethora of spells at his command, Doctor Strange was able to defeat most of them before being knocked off balance by Captain America. Realizing the outcome of prolonged battle was uncertain, The Doctor retreated to recollect his thoughts and to determine a means of defeating Drumm. With the help of Hellstrom's writings, he eventually determined how Drumm's spirit was using black magic to possess bodies.
He then returned to the battle to find Drumm's spirit in possession of Luke Cage's body. The Doctor encased Luke in the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, trapping Drumm's spirit inside. He then used dark magic to destroy Drumm's spirit, stating he was only able to use dark magic because he wasn't the current Sorcerer Supreme. The statement was very telling considering Strange had lost the title of Sorcerer Supreme for that very reason.
Mephisto first appeared in Silver Surfer #3 (1968). His character was based on the demon known as Mephistopheles in the story of Faust, the man who traded his soul to the devil. In Marvel comics, Mephisto impersonated Satan to barter the deal that bonded Zarathos and Johnny Blaze, creating The Ghost Rider.
While Doctor Strange has outsmarted Mephisto on multiple occasions, the most interesting bout between them occurred when he teamed up with Doctor Doom in the graphic novel Triumph and Torment: Dr. Strange and Dr. Doom (1989). Prior to receiving Strange's help, Doctor Doom had sought to retrieve his mother's soul from hell every Midsummer's Eve. But the fight was lost time and again.
After several failures, Doctor Doom asked Strange to help him enter Mephisto's realm. There they clashed with Mephisto and almost lost. Doctor Strange was able to keep them alive long enough for Doom's mother, Cynthia, to redeem herself of past evils so her spirit could rise to a higher plane of existence.
Doctor Stephen Strange has been known to erase himself from the minds of the people he has encountered and helped. He has usually performed such acts as a way of removing overly traumatic events from the minds of victims. But he has also erased the minds of other heroes and villains when it was deemed necessary.
When working as a member of the Illuminati, Captain America was often unwilling to put his personal morality aside and participate in some of the more questionable missions the Illuminati were forced to consider. Once such task called for the destruction of another planet in order to save the Earth. When Captain America refused, he was voted out of the Illuminati. Afterward, Doctor Strange erased every trace of its existence from the Captain's mind.
One of the first instances of this was seen in Strange's early days. During his first team up with the Doctor, Spider-Man saw things he didn't want to remember and had Stephen remove the entire experience from his memory.
Just as the Ancient One and Mordo have taken on disciples, Doctor Strange has also taught a number of apprentices. The most notable of them were Clea, Rintrah, and Topaz. You may have noticed that many Doctor Strange fans were disappointed at the absence of Clea in the movie. In addition to being his first disciple on page, she was was also his primary love interest for many years. And as the niece of Dormammu, she played a big role in his connection to the dark dimension.
Rintrah, Doctor Strange's second apprentice, was also from another dimension and hails from a race of Minotaurs on the planet R'Vaal. His great potential for magic made him a target of many evil beings until Doctor Strange took him under wing.
Topaz was the Doctor's fifth apprentice. She was found at a young age and raised by the sorcerer Taboo. Doctor Strange rescued her and took her on while trying to keep an emotional distance. Stephen had already experienced great losses in previous relationships and knew about her tumultuous past. This was likely a good decision since Taboo was not the last person to use Topaz against him.
Fantastic Four: The End (2007) is a six-issue miniseries where Doctor Strange had become the Ancient One. He still guarded the Sanctum Sanctorum and had a daughter named after her mother, his former apprentice, Clea. His daughter had also replaced Strange as Sorcerer Supreme.
The miniseries ended with Doctor Strange, his daughter, and the Fantastic Four joining a battle between Earth's heroes and both Kree and Shi'ar forces. Doctor Doom was also pulled into the battle and immediately attacked the Fantastic Four. Facing certain defeat, he escaped to the Negative Zone just prior to the arrival of Galactus and the retreat of both the Kree and Shi'ar armies. Doom then killed Annihilus and replaced himself as the ruler of that dimension.
While the series ended on a semi-negative note, it also left us with a prophecy about a team of 16 children from the Fantastic Four and others who would take up the mantle for a new generation.
Doctor Strange's first appearance was merely a few page spread appearing after a headlining Human Torch story in Strange Tales No. 110 (1963). Fortunately, the story generated enough interest for this strange hero to rate more appearances, and eventually his own comic book. But he didn't have to go far. Instead, he took over the Strange Tales title, which makes perfect sense. After all, they only had to change a single word and do some rearranging.
It might be interesting to note that while Steve Ditko admits to making the Doctor his most surreal character, the name Doctor Strange is actually attributed to the character's first appearance. A 2008 letter from Ditko states: "On my own, I brought in to Lee a five-page, penciled story with a page/panel script of my idea of a new, different kind of character for variety in Marvel Comics. My character wound up being named Dr. Strange because he would appear in Strange Tales."
While Steve Ditko focused on bringing us a surreal, magical background with vivid imagery and colorful landscapes, Stan Lee worked to model the character after an early radio program character named Chandu The Magician. As such the comic book read like a cross between cosmology, eastern mysticism, ancient magics and the "peace, love and understanding" movement of 1960s U.S.A.
The Doctor himself represented the cultural hippie movement of the 1960s. Think about it. We have a man motivated by material greed until he loses everything. And the only thing that saves him is a psychedelic journey which forces him to renounce the physical world to find spiritual growth. You just can't get more 1960s than that.
In 1971, writer Roy Thomas stated many fans related Doctor Strange comics to experiences they had being high on mushrooms. Apparently this opinion was so widespread that he felt a need to clearly state he had never personally taken any hallucinogens.
Have you read the Doctor Strange comics? If not, will you start? Let us know in the comments.