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Just who is Doctor Strange…?

Dr. Strange

On November 4th Marvel and Disney will release their latest film based on another one of their cornerstone characters that’s been around for more than 50 years. And, let’s face it, it’s a Marvel movie, you’re going to make an effort to go see it in the theaters anyway. But before you head out to the theater, I want to educate you on just what you’re getting into. You all should be grateful for this because I still wish someone had done this for me ahead of watching the first “Matrix.” OK, maybe not the first one, because that can do fine as a standalone film, but at least the second or third one.

By now I’m sure you’ve seen the ads and trailers with Benedict Cumberbatch playing a guy who looks lost, and then meets a mystical lady. The next thing you know, buildings are folding into themselves like an acid trip. And while yes, even though the movie will make changes in the story of Doctor Strange that differ from how it’s written in the comics for the sake of formatting and time, his character remains true and interesting. In the film, he goes from having everything to having nothing. He works so hard to reclaim what he thought was so important to him, and in turn discovers he’s not only part of larger world, but has been given the tools to protect it.

Now without spoiling anything massive for folks ahead of watching the film, here’s what you need to know about Doctor (Stephen) Strange. Back in 1963, two guys at Marvel Comics named Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, (the same guys who created that other “kind of popular character,” Spider-Man) wanted to create a super hero that was different, and dealt in magic, sorcery, witchcraft, demons and monsters. With that, Dr. Strange debuted in the comic book “Strange Tales” issue No. 110. And in order to make his story one that stood out, the creators took someone of privilege – a successful surgeon – and broke him, literally, well at least his hands, by having him survive a car accident. This in turn drives him borderline crazy, as he searches the world in hopes of some way to fix himself. But instead of finding a single method to fix his hands, he ends up becoming the guy who deals with all the magical, mystical and demonic problems that plague the world. Now keep in mind I’m trying NOT to spoil the focal points of the film, because no one wants to be “that guy,” who drops spoilers by giving the entire backstory of the character.

A great way to look at the character is how the creative team of writer Jason Aaron and artists Chris Bachalo and Tim Townsend, are currently presenting the character in its monthly comic from Marvel, which is the “Indiana Jones of Magic.” If stuff goes wrong, and it does – or falls out of place from where it should be – it all falls on Doctor Strange and his monk assistant, Wong, to fix it. And in the interest of full disclosure, I am not being compensated by Marvel or Disney for writing that, I just like to, when possible, try to motivate people to read comics when they least expect it!

As for the movie itself, it’s another Marvel film, so you know that you’re going to walk out of the theater with a smile on your face and saying, “I need to see that again.” The notable exception to this reaction was “Iron Man 3.” Still wish I scheduled a root canal instead of watching that. A lot of folks are going to compare the Doctor Strange film to “Inception” because of the effects with the buildings folding into themselves. That’s fine, but again for those reading this ahead of time, try, for no other reason than for the fun of it, to pick up on the similarities between this film and the first “Matrix.” In that film, the main character is plucked out of a smaller world he had a specific role in, and is thrown into a bigger one where he comes to realize he’s also got the ability to control it. And for those fans who surprisingly may not know this by now, don’t leave when the ending credits roll in “Doctor Strange,” as you’ll miss the post credit scene that Marvel movies are known for!

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