Str ange Days

Bon­nie Bur­ton loves a su­per­hero with a dif­fer­ence

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Opinion -

In an era where su­per­heroes can be any­thing from ec­cen­tric bil­lion­aires to dis­placed gods to ra­dioac­tive re­jects, it feels like us geeks have seen ev­ery­thing al­ready played out on a big screen or on tele­vi­sion. We’ve grown ac­cus­tomed to the same old su­per­heroes fight­ing their usual en­e­mies over and over again. So when Marvel an­nounced that not only were we get­ting a Doc­tor Strange movie but that Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch would be play­ing him, I was ec­static. Here is a su­per­hero that doesn’t look or act like the typ­i­cal masked man. In fact, he doesn’t ac­tu­ally have a dis­guise, just a fancy sense of fash­ion.

To re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate Doc­tor Strange, you have to know his back­story. Orig­i­nally cre­ated in 1963 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko dur­ing the Sil­ver Age of comics, Doc­tor Stephen Strange starts out as a bril­liant but ar­ro­gant neu­ro­sur­geon whose ca­reer is wrecked when a tragic car ac­ci­dent ru­ins the tools of his trade – his hands. He sub­se­quently spends all his sav­ings trav­el­ling around the world look­ing for ob­scure cures to no avail, un­til he finds a recluse named the An­cient One in the Hi­malayas, who trains him in the hid­den world of al­ter­nate di­men­sions and magic, and the power it wields. He then be­comes the Sor­cerer Supreme who pro­tects us hu­mans from mag­i­cal threats. He draws much of his mag­i­cal power from mys­ti­cal en­ti­ties, refers to the Book of the Vis­hanti for spells, and uses the Orb of Ag­amotto crys­tal ball for clair­voy­ance pur­poses.

When the char­ac­ter first landed in the early ’ 60s, read­ers couldn’t get enough of not only Doc­tor Strange, but the sto­ry­line’s ref­er­ences to Egyp­tian myths, Sume­rian gods and, even in some cases, the psy­chol­ogy of Carl Jung. While the strip it­self pre- dated the coun­ter­cul­ture move­ment, the vivid and sur­re­al­is­tic mys­ti­cal land­scapes that Doc­tor Strange in­hab­ited ap­pealed to col­lege stu­dents first dis­cov­er­ing LSD and psy­che­delic mush­rooms.

But that’s only one of the in­ter­est­ing aspects of this un­usual Marvel su­per­hero that I’ve adored since I dis­cov­ered him in the late 1980s when writer Peter B Gil­lis and artists Richard Case and Randy Em­ber­lin worked on the char­ac­ter. I was drawn to Doc­tor Strange be­cause he was pride­ful, moody, dark and self- de­struc­tive. If he played bass in an in­dus­trial band, I prob­a­bly would have dated him.

Doc­tor Strange al­ways seems to ap­peal to fans like me who were look­ing for a more cos­mic kind of char­ac­ter, a su­per­hero that even sur­re­al­ist artist Salvador Dali would ap­pre­ci­ate. He wasn’t like the X- Men or the Avengers. He delved into the Dark Arts to help him save us from one bizarre dan­ger af­ter an­other. He was like a sexy Severus Snape with a mis­sion to save the uni­verse. He even lived in a house built on a site known for pa­gan sac­ri­fices.

Maybe it’s my love for all things Wicca and magic, or maybe it’s my in­ner goth swoon­ing, but I can’t help but feel giddy know­ing that my favourite cos­mic su­per­hero is headed to the big screen this year with Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch play­ing the lead. I can only imag­ine how ex­cit­ing it will be to see mag­i­cal light­ning spring from his fin­ger­tips as he puts his ri­val Baron Mordo in his place.

Watch­ing Cum­ber­batch roam his char­ac­ter’s oc­cult li­brary in search of the per­fect spell book within the con­fines of his Sanc­tum Sanc­to­rum will feel like wit­ness­ing my Sher­lock/ Strange fan fic­tion come to life, and I can’t wait.

“If strange played bass in an in­dus­trial band, i prob­a­bly would have dated him”

Bon­nie’s knit­ting her Doc­tor Strange cape right now.

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