Confused About What, Exactly, Doctor Strange Is? Here's What You Need To Know

Photo: Jay Maidment/Marvel.
When you look back, 2016 really belonged to superhero movies. From Batman vs. Superman to the Suicide Squad, it's been another year of big comic book films — and more are coming.

As the year comes to a close, Marvel is ready to start a new chapter in its comic book franchise, something it calls "Phase Three." It started with Captain America: Civil War. And the next chapter continues with Doctor Strange.

You've probably seen the trailers, promotional art, and even that skit on Jimmy Kimmel Live! But do you know anything about Doctor Strange? Chances are you don't — and that's totally okay. Doctor Strange isn't as big a name as say Spider-Man or Iron Man, but that doesn't mean he's not cool or important to this ever-expanding Marvel movie universe.

That's why we've put together a beginner's guide to Doctor Strange. Ahead, we have information on the characters, the villains, and anything else you need to know before heading to the movie. That way, you can keep up with all your friends when they geek out at the theater.

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Photo: Film Frame/Marvel.
So who is Doctor Strange & what are his powers?

Benedict Cumberbatch beat out a long line of actors, including Keanu Reeves and Joaquin Phoenix, to play Doctor Stephen Strange, a Marvel character that's been around since the 1960s.

Strange is a renowned —and egotistical— neurosurgeon whose life changes after a car accident destroys his hands and, as a result, his career. He decides to search the world for a way to fix his hands and revive his career. Instead, he meets a powerful sorcerer (Tilda Swinton), who teaches him mystical arts and martial arts. Basically, Doctor Strange is a lot like an older, less naive Harry Potter —but if Harry Potter was trained by Morpheus in The Matrix.

He uses spells to fight bad guys. He also uses two mystical objects that complete his look: the Cloak of Levitation and Eye of Agamotto (a.k.a. the Time Stone). The best part? We get to listen to Benedict Cumberbatch speak with an American accent and rock a goatee. Kidding, that last part is the worst.
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Photo: Film Frame/Marvel.
PSA: This movie is going to be trippy AF — & that's a good thing.

Because the Doctor Strange world involves the mystical arts, be prepared for some trippy shit. This movie is going to have dueling sorcerers conjuring swords and javelins, throwing lightning bolts, and levitating. These people are going to be able to literally bend reality.

There are going to be vortexes and parallel planes—and it's apparently so visually spectacular and mindblowing that it makes Inception look like child's play.

The imagery is going to be surreal, to say the very least. At times, it may feel like we, the audience, or Stephen Strange, the character, have lost all sense of reality.

My advice: Go with it. You're already watching a movie about a grown man with a cape shooting spells. It's all going to be okay. Who knows? You might even think it's insanely beautiful and love every minute of it.
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Photo: Jay Maidment/Marvel.
Who is Tilda Swinton's character & why is everyone mad at her?

Tilda Swinton, esteemed actor and androgynous hero, is playing the Ancient One. In the comics, the Ancient One is a centuries-old Tibetan man living in a Himalayan city known as Kamar-Taj. He also happens to be a sorcerer in his spare time. He's the one who teaches Dr. Strange about spells and parallel planes and serves as Strange's mentor.

But here's the thing: He's a Tibetan man in the comics! So people have been (rightfully) outraged that Tilda Swinton (a white woman) is playing the role. Can you say "whitewashing?"

Her defense was that the "casting is positively diverse" and pointed out that a Black actor is playing Baron Mordo who was a white dude in the comics. So yeah.

Just know this about the movie's version of the Ancient One: She will be old, she will be bald, and she will be the one who introduces Dr. Strange to his future as Sorcerer Supreme.
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Photo: Jay Maidment/Marvel.
Wait, Rachel McAdams is in this movie?

Canada's sweetheart, Rachel McAdams, is in this movie. She's playing a completely new character: Dr. Christine Palmer. And guess what? We don't know a damn thing about her. All we know is that she's a surgeon and former colleague of Strange's. She'll most likely be his love interest. That's about it.

Doctor Strange fans were hoping that McAdams was going to be Clea, a sorceress who is heir to the Dark Dimension. She can throw magic bolts and she's also Strange's lover. But that idea was shot down. For the movie, writers wanted Strange to have someone to ground him in reality — and that's where Dr. Palmer comes in.

It's kind of thrilling to have a character we know nothing about, right? Stay tuned to see what she can do.
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Photo: Film Frame/Marvel.
Okay, I saw Benedict Wong in the trailer. Who's he supposed to be?

Benedict Wong is in this movie — and he's playing Wong, who was Dr. Strange's valet and sidekick in the comics. But here's the good news: In the movie, he's no longer Strange's "manservant." That's great because it's 2016 and does anyone really need a manservant? I don't think so.

Instead, Benedict Wong's version of Wong is a master training other disciples and sorcerers in the mystical arts in Kamar-Taj. He's also a protector of relics and ancient ritual books. Wong has called his character's relationship with Strange in the movie as "an oddball couple." No, they're not dating, but they're opposites who manage to become allies. So, almost as good, right?

In sum: Wong and Strange are basically going to be bros — working together to fight extra-dimensional enemies.
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Photo: Jay Maidment/Marvel.
So is Chiwetel Ejiofor the bad guy?

Chiwetel Ejiofor is playing Baron Karl Mordo. Mordo is, technically, a supervillain and often battles Dr. Strange in the comics. He is an extremely talented magician and loves using the black arts and summoning demons, cause who doesn't, right?

Mordo actually studied magic with the Ancient One, along with Strange, but then he went rogue. Ever since then, Strange and Mordo have had more beef than the East and West Coast rap scene in the '90s.

Things are going to be a bit different in the movie. Mordo is will be Strange's ally for most of the film. But once Strange uses the Eye of Agamotto (a.k.a. the Time Stone) to stop their enemy, Mordo is pissed. He's mad at the Ancient One, he's mad at Strange, and he has had it with them both!

Mordo is a pretty fun villain, so it would be great to see him in future movies since the only real villains we've had in Marvel movies, so far, have been Loki (rich kid with daddy issues) and Thanos (universe destroyer who is basically never around).
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Photo: Film Frame/Marvel.
But I thought this was the bad guy?

So Mordo is probably going to be a major Strange adversary in the Doctor Strange sequels and, possibly, in other Marvel movies. But for now, in this film, the real bad guy is going to be Kaecilius (played by Mads Mikkelsen).

Kaecilius is one of Dr. Strange's earliest enemies (first popping up in 1965). In the comics, Kaecilius was a disciple of Baron Mordo, and together they do a number of shady things, including kidnapping the Ancient One.

Kaecilius' goal is basically to reshape the world, which is really bad in the world of magic. In the prequel comics, we learn the reason Kaecilius is so bad — and hates the Ancient One so much — is because he wanted to use the mystic arts to bring his dead wife and child back from the dead. Obviously, that didn't really work out for him.

In the comics, Mordo used Kaecilius to channel some real evil— like way more evil than both of these guys put together.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marvel.
Basically, there's another bad guy — & he's the WORST.

Mordo is evil and Kaecilius is pretty bad too. But they've got nothing on Dormammu. This guy's head is made of fire —and he still seems happy — so that's a pretty clear that he's evil and feels nothing. Dormammu is an ancient being made up of mystic energy (hence, the fire face).

Dormammu was banished from his home, so he conquered the Dark Dimension. That's where he breaks down barriers and conquers other dimensions, as magical supervillains do. But when he tried to mess with Earth — with help from Mordo —Dr. Strange wasn't having it. So their rivalry began.

Dormammu can consume energy and matter and his magic doesn't really have any limits. He can also take on a number of shapes, because what's creepier than a shape-shifting ball of energy that throws fireballs and conquers dimensions?

It's recently been confirmed that Dormammu will play some kind of role in the film. Here's the best part: Benedict Cumberbatch played him! After all, Dormmamu is CGI and Cumberbatch loves a challenge.
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Photo: Film Frame/Marvel.
There might be a Scarlet Witch or Thor cameo.

It's been all but confirmed that Chris Hemsworth a.k.a. Thor will have some role in the Doctor Strange movie. According to spoil sports, it may be just his voice and it may happen at the end credits. And that makes sense because Dr. Strange and Thor both love hanging out in other dimensions and playing with magic.

Another character who make sense to cameo would be Scarlet Witch (played by Elizabeth Olsen). Scarlet Witch and Dr. Strange both use magic, albeit she's untrained and a little more chaotic. And they've crossed paths numerous times in the comics, often with insane, mystical results.

It would pretty cool if Dr. Strange tried to train the Scarlet Witch to prevent a misuse of magic. There have been hints that she could pop up in this movie, but nothing has been confirmed.
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Photo: Jay Maidment/Marvel.
Doctor Strange is going to be in Avengers 3 since he's part of "Phase 3."

Benedict Cumberbatch hinted in a recent interview that Dr. Strange could be teaming up with the Avengers. That makes a lot of sense, given their comic history, but also if there's a connection via Scarlet Witch.

In any case, it shouldn't be all that surprising even for people who aren't fans of the comics. Doctor Strange is part of Marvel's Phase Three, which will start connecting the dots between the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Thanos, and even Dr. Strange (if all their schedules allow).

Now if only they could get the rights to those X-Men, then we'd have one hell of a Marvel final showdown ahead of us.
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