Logo for Doctor Strange on DStv

Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams

Doctor Strange is a great name for a superhero who can hop dimensions and travel the Astral Plane. And if you think the latter is the name of an airline and are prone to vertigo when presented with warping, mirroring and bending cityscapes on the big screen, then perhaps this is not the Marvel movie for you.

 

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is like Dr. Gregory House, without the cuddly likeability or warm interpersonal skills. The world famous neurosurgeon is, quite frankly, a bit of a spanner – but that doesn’t cause him a moment’s concern as he strides, aloof, through life. Then a horrific car accident robs him of the use of his hands – and therefore, his skills and livelihood. When Western medicine fails him, he tracks down a centre for healing run by a mystic known as the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) in a mountain enclave called Kamar-Taj. While working through the Ancient One’s unconventional healing methods, he learns that the centre is also the last line of a battle against sinister forces bent on destroying reality. He is pressed into action when a former student of the Ancient One, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) returns to our universe in an attempt to topple her – and reality itself.

 

The good Doctor has been part of the Marvel comic universe for over 50 years now, but was constantly overshadowed by the likes of Iron Man, Hulk and Spider-Man – most likely due to the thoroughly psychedelic powers he possesses. Besides being a skilled martial artist, Doctor Strange can perform pretty much any kind of magic you can think of and is capable of everything from flight to teleportation and telekinesis to transmutation. He’s also been known to fire magical bolts of lightning from his palms. Many of his powers come from the mystical objects he's collected, including the Cloak of Levitation (which allows him to fly), the Eye of Agamotto (the light of which can negate evil magic), the Book of Vishinti (which possesses the knowledge of all white magic), and the Orb of Agamotto (effectively a crystal ball). With those kinds of near-limitless powers, it’s a surprise it took Marvel 14 films to wrangle him to the big screen – but there’s also a school of thought that Doctor Strange is a bridge into the more out there parts of the Marvel Universe, to help ease viewers into a series of darker, edgier films.

 

The Doctor Strange movie has been in development for over 30 years. Back to the Future co-writer Bob Gale first created a script for the film in 1986, but producers never bit. A few years later, Strange’s co-creator Stan Lee also tried to create a version, which went nowhere. In the early 90s, horror aficionado Wes Craven signed on to re-write and direct, with the same result. Several others, including Guillermo del Torro had been slated to revive the project before relative unknown Derrickson wowed producers into green-lighting a version with a self-funded 90-minute presentation film.

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