One of the worst kept secrets over in the Marvel world for some time was the development of a Doctor Strange movie. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige had expressed his desire to bring the Master of the Mystic Arts from the comics to the screen, and there was even a name drop ("Stephen Strange") in 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier,' but only recently was horror director Scott Derrickson hired to direct the film.
While we'll surely hear more about 'Doctor Strange' at Comic-Con 2014, first things first -- who the heck is this guy? Here's a primer of everything you need to know about the character of Doctor Strange and everything we know (so far) about the upcoming movie.
Moving from Phase 2 into Phase 3 with 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and 'Ant-Man,' Marvel Studios' upcoming movie lineup includes many elements not previously tackled in their overarching Cinematic Universe. While the former will bring us new intergalactic worlds and the latter a size-shrinking superhero, Doctor Strange will see the supernatural world handled on-screen for the first time.
As they say, a lady goes by many names -- Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme, Master of the Mystic Arts -- but before Stephen Strange became known as Earth's defender against supernatural forces, he was a neurosurgeon. Blaming himself for his sister's drowning, he threw himself into earning his medical degree and reaching the top of his field. However, an older, more arrogant Strange would eventually suffer severe nerve damage to his hands after a car accident, which would leave him unable to continue his career.
After seeking out countless treatments to reverse the effects, Strange desperately traveled to Tibet in search of the Ancient One, the Earth's Sorcerer Supreme, unbeknownst to him. After revealing his power to Strange, the Ancient One accepted the man's request to learn the mystic arts, after our hero proved himself selfless in defending his master against a villainous pupil.
Now, Stephen Strange goes by the name Doctor Strange, and is the new Sorcerer Supreme and one of the most powerful magic wielders in the entire Marvel universe. The full range of Strange's abilities are unknown, though he seemingly has a limitless array through his spell casting, including astral projection, telepathy, telekinesis, energy projection, transformation and teleportation. In addition, he possesses a few magical objects, though there are two he never leaves home without -- his amulet, named the Eye of Agamotto, pierces through illusions, probes minds and opens gateways, to name a few effects; and his Cloak of Levitation is...well, pretty self explanatory.
Who's Directing the 'Doctor Strange' Movie?
Throughout his comic-book run, Doctor Strange has grappled with evil sorcerers, demonic forces, possession, and other occult-y obstacles, so it's practically perfect that the man behind such horror titles as 'The Exorcism of Emily Rose,' 'Sinister' and the recent 'Deliver Us From Evil' should helm Marvel's 'Doctor Strange.'
Scott Derrickson was recently announced as the director of 'Doctor Strange,' while Jon Spaihts of 'Prometheus' works on the script. However, it would be inaccurate to say that this Marvel film is more horror-based in nature. Upon winning the gig, Derrickson stated that he is a fan of the old-school 'Strange Tales' comic book arc, which will serve as inspiration for his movie iteration.
Who Will Star in 'Doctor Strange'?
No casting for 'Doctor Strange' has been announced, though with a director and screenwriter in place, the reveal of its title star is not far off. (Big Comic-Con announcement, perhaps?)
However, the Oscar-nominated Joaquin Phoenix was recently announced to be in discussions with Marvel to take on the role. Previously, Scott Derrickson's 'Deliver Us From Evil' star Edgar Ramirez, who portrays a demon-hunting religious man in the film, told IGN he's been talking with the director about a role. It's unclear which role, exactly, but he'd make an excellent Sorcerer Supreme, if you ask us. The question now is, does Marvel think that?
Other names reportedly thrown in the casting pool, even if no longer in the running, were recent Oscar-winner Jared Leto, the great Benedict Cumberbatch, and Bane himself, Tom Hardy, while names like Joseph Gordon-Levitt (someone Marvel has been trying for years to get in one of their movies) and HBO's 'The Leftovers' star Justin Theroux were previously rumored.
What Will 'Doctor Strange' Be About?
As 'Doctor Strange' is still in early stages (which means everyone is all hush hush), plot details are still under wraps. Though, that's not to say that small tidbits haven't already leaked out ...
Officially, all we know is from Marvel's Kevin Feige, who says that 'Doctor Strange' will be "a Ditko/Kubrick/Miyazaki/The Matrix mind-trip," and teases Steven Strange as going from "a man of science to a man of faith" and using his scientific background to understand supernatural occurrences.
"There’s a whole other side to the Marvel universe, which is the supernatural side," he said. "We’ve always been very interested in this aspect and this is going back to the early days of 'Strange Tales' with Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. I love that stuff. We haven’t done anything that mind-trippy yet and for me, ‘Doctor Strange’ is our doorway into that."
In the 'Strange Tales' comics, two big villains pop out right away as possible adversaries for Doctor Strange's big-screen rendition -- Mordo and Dormammu.
One can't really tell a proper Doctor Strange origin tale without including Mordo. Remember that "villainous pupil" we mentioned earlier? He was a disciple of the Ancient One who succumbed to his thirst for more power and jealousy of Doctor Strange's destiny to become Sorcerer Supreme, and Mordo eventually attacked the Ancient One to try and prevent Strange's ascension. We all know how that worked out, and Mordo eventually became Strange's archenemies. As for Dormammu, this guy is one Strange's most well-known and powerful foes. Dormammu is an evil entity composed of pure mystical energy, one who eventually enlists Mordo as a disciple and who can grow in power through worship and human sacrifice.
Both characters are allegedly "100% confirmed" by Latino Review to appear in the film.
When Will 'Doctor Strange' Hit Theaters?
'Doctor Strange' doesn't currently have a release date, though Marvel has announced movies all the way up to 2019. So far, this is what the upcoming lineup (that's been officially announced) looks like:
August 1, 2014 -- 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
May 1, 2015 -- 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'
July 17, 2015 -- 'Ant-Man'
May 6, 2016 -- 'Captain America 3'
July 8, 2016 -- TBD
May 5, 2017 -- TBD
July 28, 2017 -- TBD
November 3, 2017 -- TBD
July 6, 2018 -- TBD
November 2, 2018 -- TBD
May 3, 2019 -- TBD
Since Marvel is in "active development" on 'Doctor Strange,' it wouldn't shock us to see it drop into that July 2016 spot. However, 'Guardians of the Galaxy 2,' which was rumored to have the May 2016 release date before 'Captain America 3' was announced, could also be an option, while Marvel is still planning a Black Panther film and mulling over the idea of a new solo 'Hulk' outing. The May 2017 date, while not confirmed, could very well be the next 'Avengers' movie. Recently, Kevin Feige revealed that his hoped-for plan is to release one sequel and one original Marvel film per year for the foreseeable future, which supports the prediction that 2016 will be the year of 'Strange.'