A guide to Doctor Strange, Marvel's magical hero

"Doctor Strange" is the latest film in the Marvel franchise, but the master of the mystic arts brings something a little different to the table. Here are the basics and a little recommended reading.

Luke Lancaster
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He’s a jerk

Benedict Cumberbatch dons cape and beard to play Doctor Strange in a new movie opening in the US on 4 November. Click through our gallery to find out more about the Marvel-ous magician before you see the film.

Marvel's Stephen Strange is a hotshot, jerkbag surgeon who injures his hands in a car crash (that's totally his fault). Without the fine motor skills that made him a hotshot surgeon, he's just a jerkbag.

Fortunately, Strange swaps surgery for sorcery and begins battling the forces of evil.

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But not that big a jerk

After his accident, Strange travels the world looking for a cure, and winds up on a path that leads him to the mystical Ancient One, played in the movie by Tilda Swinton. Sensing that there's some nobility in him, the mysterious Ancient One tutors Strange in the arcane arts.

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He's bringing magic to the MCU

We've seen science and space on the big screen in Marvel movies, but even Thor's Asgard was explained as "sufficiently advanced science". "Doctor Strange" takes the Marvel cinematic universe into the mystical world, sending Strange on a spell-casting odyssey across the astral plane -- complete with "Inception"-style folding buildings.

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All-seeing eye

One of the Doctor's primary tools, the Eye of Agamotto, allows Strange to see through illusions, create portals, read minds and do other things that expedite the plot. It's also been strongly hinted that the Eye will be one of the Marvel cinematic universe's Infinity Stones, which will be central in the upcoming "Infinity War".

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His cloak has a mind of its own

The Cloak of Levitation's primary power is to allow whoever wears it to fly, because comics are silly, but not that silly. It's also possibly sentient, because sometimes comics are that silly.

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Becoming sorcerer supreme

Sorcerer Supreme, a title in the Marvel Universe, is the office of the magic practitioner with the greatest skill in the mystic arts. So, of course Strange steps up once the previous Sorcerer Supreme dies, to defend the world from extradimensional threats like the evil Dormammu.

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A different kind of superhero

Dr Strange was first seen in "Strange Tales" #110 in July 1963. He was created by Stan Lee and visionary artist Steve Ditko, who supplied mind-bending psychedelic visuals for the new character's adventures.

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Doctor Strange has had many magical adventures over the years. In the graphic novel "Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment", the two Doctors travel to hell to fight Mephisto for the soul of Doom's mother. It's as awesome as it sounds. It was also drawn by Mike Mignola, the genius behind Hellboy.

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Doing no harm

Doctor Strange teams up with Night Nurse (in a very Watson and Holmes pairing) in this five-issue run by Brian K. Vaughan (Saga) and Marcos Martin. Retelling Doctor Strange's origin story, it's a great jumping-on point for new readers. Nicodemus West, who made his first appearance in The Oath, is also in the upcoming movie, played by Michael Stuhlbarg.

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He served Queen Elizabeth I

In Neil Gaiman's "Marvel 1602", a non-canon Elizabethan spin on the Marvel Universe, Strange served as the court magician to Queen Elizabeth. But, like, with actual magic. Things go about as well for him as you'd expect once James takes the throne.

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Strange enemies

Strange also has some of the coolest villains in his rogues gallery, because when you wield immense magical power, you play in the big leagues. There's Mephisto, Blackheart and the Mindless Ones (pictured). The kind of threats to reality that make the Avengers call in for help. In the movie, get ready for appearances by Mordo and Kaecilius, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelson.

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The Illuminati

Strange is one of the most powerful men on Earth, even forming a secret cabal with the Fantastic Four's Reed Richards, underwater prince Namor, X-Men teacher Charles Xavier, Inhuman king Black Bolt and Iron Man Tony Stark.

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