With "Dr. Strange" premiering on Friday, we all need a refresher on Marvel's Master of the Mystic Arts. Here are 10 fun facts:
1. Dr. Strange debuted in 1963 at Marvel Comics, the brainchild of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (but mostly Ditko). Initially he looked Asian, but progressively became more Caucasian. He looked to be 30-something, and his family was from Nebraska. Dr. Strange may be the only superhero in the history of comics to be a Cornhusker.
2. Strange's brother Vincent died after being hit by a car. While still a neophyte magician, he tried to revive his brother by using a tome of white magic called the Book of the Vishanti, but bungled it. Vincent revived all right, but as a vampire. Oops.
3. The Book of Vishanti has an opposite number, a book of evil magic called the Darkhold. It is currently playing an important role in "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." on ABC.
4. Strange wears the Cloak of Levitation, which not only allows him to fly, but is also semi-sentient and can fight for him independently if need be. (Although not terribly effectively. It is, after all, a cloak.)
5. In the comics, the Ancient One was an incredibly old Asian guy, but in the movies will be an androgynous sort played by Caucasian Tilda Swinton. Some fans wax wroth over this, especially those who feel that Asian characters should be played by Asian actors. I'm sympathetic, but at the same time, Strange's origin — white man goes to another place, becomes the best at what the locals do — is one huge mass of cultural appropriation.
6. The Ancient One was the Sorcerer Supreme of our dimension, charged with protecting it from all the extra-dimensional baddies that would like to enslave humanity (or just snack on us). When he died in the 1970s, Strange became the Sorcerer Supreme.
7. Strange calls his house in Greenwich Village his "Sanctum Sanctorum." From the outside, the Sanctum is a three-story brownstone, but the inside is much larger (and much stranger).
8. The place is run by Wong, the latter being the Ancient One's manservant. Now Wong is Strange's manservant. Or at least he was, until someone finally realized how dreadful that term was. Now Wong is referred to as Strange's friend and ally. (One who does the cooking and cleaning.) Here an Asian is played by Asian in the movie, an actor coincidentally named Benedict Wong.
9. The first team Strange joined was a group called he Defenders, whose membership has included the Hulk, Sub-Mariner, Luke Cage, Daredevil and Iron Fist. The latter three will be three-fourths of "Marvel's Defenders," coming to Netflix in 2017.
10. There has already been a "Dr. Strange" movie, a made-for-TV affair that aired in 1978. It starred Peter Hooten as a psychiatrist who had a way with the ladies. Was it awful? Oh, yes.