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Strange Things Are Coming…

Written by Z. B. Hunter

With the Doctor Strange film hitting the silver screen in a few weeks, we thought this would be a good idea to formally introduce you to the character, given that some may not who exactly who he is.

So let’s dive right in, shall we? Doctor Strange is a character that first appeared in 1963 and is typically recognised by the grey hair on his temples, and his red and gold cloak, known as the Cloak of Levitation. But he didn’t always wear long draping ropes that allows him to fly – how does one procure this kind of cloak, anyway? Asking for a friend. Well he didn’t get it at medical school, that’s for sure. Yes, Doctor Stephen Strange is an actual doctor. It’s not some silly title he put in front of his name to make him sound cooler. In fact, he was one of the best surgeons there were, but not the best of people. His egotistical and materialistic ways gradually severed his relationships with his family and fiancée. Then, on one fateful night, Strange is involved in a horrifying car accident that leaves him unable to use his hands.

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With his life as a surgeon no longer a possibility, Stephen spent all his money (and he had a lot of it) on every treatment he could literally get his hands on. And none of them worked, unsurprisingly. This all happened in the 60’s, so with the extent of the nerve damage in his hands coupled with the lack of medical advancements, he was doomed from the start.

Despite all that, medicine isn’t what saved him. Upon hearing about the mystical Ancient One, Strange travelled to Tibet in a desperate last attempted to find a cure – which he was denied. Instead the Ancient One offered to teach him the ways of mysticism, and Strange, being the skeptic he was, rejected the proposal and left. Well, tried to leave. A blizzard prevented him from travelling back down through the Himalayas.

Forced to stay until the storm passed, Strange witnessed an assassination attempt on the Ancient One by his apprentice, Baron Mordo, using mystical powers. The Ancient One quickly dispelled these, instantly changing Strange’s mind. From then on, the Ancient One took Strange under his wing and taught him the mystic arts with the intention of making him his successor. During his years as a student, Strange learnt to summon the powers of many other mystic beings and befriended several other sorcerers from around the world.

Upon returning to US, Doctor Strange set up his base of operations as a mystic consultant in New York. No longer the arrogant and greedy man he once was, Strange sought to protect the Earth from evil entities from other dimensions. His pursuits led him to work with other heroes like the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men and even the Avengers.

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Now that Doctor Strange is being brought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, many are eager to find out how exactly he ties in with the Infinity War storyline, and this film should do exactly that. However, not everyone is excited about the film’s release. Marvel have come under criticism for the whitewashing the character of the Ancient One, as well as for changing the original setting from Tibet to Nepal to avoid any connections with the political situation regarding Tibet and China.

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige responded to the outcries of gender-swapping an Asian man to a white woman by saying the development team did not want to play into the stereotypes from the original comics. They wanted to instead put a new spin on an old and overdone trope in film and fantasy, and a gender-swap was the freshest and most exciting way to do this.

 

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This, I feel, is fair enough. The intent was noble. But having said that, this comes at a time when Asian-Americans are continually stereotyped, whitewashed (see: Ghost in the Shell), and excluded from mainstream cinema. Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson has acknowledged this briefly, as well as Feige, who says they’re hoping that future announcements and works will prove that they have been listening.

Doctor Strange is set to be released on October 25th in the UK and November 4th in the US. Are you excited for it? Is Benedict Cumberbatch a good choice for the role? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter!

About the author

Z. B. Hunter

Fresh out of university, Zaibien is hoping to make a splash in the world of literary art. When he's not figuring out new ways to subvert the fantasy genre, he's somewhere between writing his first novel and wishing there was a way to telepathically communicate his ideas onto paper exactly as they are in his head.
Unlike his characters, we can't all have superpowers, so he's just having to settle with reading comics, going to the gym and occasionally pouring his heart out over his laptop.

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