Everything you need to know about Marvel’s most out-there hero...
Doctor Strange? Never heard of him. Is he a doctor and strange?
Well, definitely the former and a little bit of the latter.
So he’s a Marvel character, is he? Been around for long?
Since 1963 actually. Created by artist Steve Ditko, Doctor Strange began life as a brilliant, but arrogant neurosurgeon, whose hands are mangled in a car crash that ruins his career. Then, after going a journey of healing, he is taken under the wing of a sorcerer who teaches him how to defend the world against evil. It’s well psychedelic.
Sounds a bit of a departure. So this is going to be a trippy kind of Marvel movie?
That’s what the Marvel scamps are promising. With its movie stablemates more firmly rooted in science-fiction, Doctor Strange is the studio’s first brush with the supernatural and it promises to be a mind-bending voyage into the ultra-weird.
Sounds mega. So, who will be playing this sorcerous surgeon?
Oh, just some little known actor named Benedict Cumberbatch?
Who? Is that his real name?
Oh, shut up. Yes, our man Benedict apparently beat out such a-listers as Joaquin Phoenix, Tom Hardy, Matthew McConaughey, Jake Gyllenhaal for the role. "I'm very excited about that spiritual dimension,” the otter-like actor says. “It's something that’s been a huge part of my life. I meditate a lot. That's a huge tool in trying to calm myself, get away from the crazy circus of it all, have a focused mind as well as be a kinder, considerate person in the world.”
Cool. Anyone else in it?
Oh, right, well, Cumberbatch’s 12 Years a Slave co-star Chiwetel Ejiofor will costume up as the morally dubious Karl Mordo, Rachel McAdams plays a fellow surgeon of Strange’s, Mads Mikkelsen is a rogue sorcerer and Tilda Swinton is the Ancient One, a long-living mystic that becomes Stephen Strange’s mentor.
So how does this fit into the wider Marvel universe?
Well, Doctor Strange is the second film in what’s called Phase III of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Captain America: Civil War arrives six months earlier on these shores in April 2016). No word yet on any post-Doctor Strange cameos for the boy Cumberbatch, but we’d put biggish money on him popping up in Avengers: Infinity War in 2018.
Has Doctor Strange ever been attempted before on the big screen?
Big screen, no. Small screen, yes. In the wake of their success with The Amazing Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk, CBS tested out a Doctor Strange TV movie in 1978. The largely unknown Peter Hooten nabbed the role of Bleeker Street’s most famous resident, and refashioned the doctor (now a psychologist) as a hirsute-chested ladykiller, while John Mills (adding some much needed star wattage) guested as the Obi-Wan Kenobi-styled Lindmar. It wasn’t very good.
Well, consider me excited. When can I see Doctor Strange?
It arrives at Cineworld on 28 October 2016.