Str ange Days
Bonnie Burton loves a superhero with a difference
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.