So now that filming is underway for the highly anticipated Doctor Strange, and those rumours about Mads Mikkelson joining the already fantastic cast have been confirmed (hurrah) it's all starting to get pretty exciting in the run up to the introduction of one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
We've all heard the origin story by now; an aloof, greedy, ambitious genius of a surgeon is involved in a car crash which damages the nerves in his hands to the point where he can no longer perform surgery. Travelling the world to find a cure for his condition which is beyond the reach of modern medicine the surgeon meets the Ancient One, a powerful sorcerer who teaches him the ways of the mystic arts, eventually learning humility and kindness and becoming the powerful Sorcerer Supreme, the protector of Earth against threats both magical and mystical. This man? Doctor Stephen Strange, better known in the Marvel Universe as Doctor Strange.
Hollywood's current gold boy Benedict Cumberbatch will portray Doctor Strange as he makes his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in his self-titled film Doctor Strange, directed by horror director Scott Derrickson and scheduled for release on November 4, 2016.
What Are His Powers?
As one of the most powerful magicians in the Marvel universe Doctor Strange draws his power from several mystical beings (demons, goddesses and other deities). Additionally he's a trained martial artist and a skilled athlete. Highly intelligent with a wealth of medical knowledge, he can still perform surgery when his damaged hands are supported by magic, but otherwise they shake too much. Though Strange's complete mystical powers have never been fully defined they have been shown to include:
- energy projection and manipulation
- matter transformation
- animation of inanimate objects
- mind control / possession
- astral projection
- dimensional / time travel
He also posses several mystical objects to aid him:
Cloak of Levitation - grants him the power of flight
Orb of Agamotto - a crystal ball used for clairvoyance
Eye of Agamotto - an amulet used to negate black magic
Book of the Vishanti - a spellbook of white magic
Why Is He Important For Infinity Wars?
The nature and scope of Doctor Strange's powers themselves make it likely that he'll become a big player in the MCU and the next instalment in the Avengers franchise, [The Avengers: Infinity War](tag:738027).
When Thanos comes to town with the Infinity Gauntlet the Avengers are going to need someone packing the kind of power afforded to the Sorcerer Supreme, and it would be fantastic to see them going head to head on the big screen. But there's another important link between Doctor Strange and Thanos that may explain the absence of a very important character thus far.
The Soul Gem & Adam Warlock
So Doctor Strange appears in both the Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War story arcs of the comic books and he's got a pretty involved history with the gems themselves, especially the Soul Gem which he protected as part of the Illuminati superhero group.
The Soul Gem is one of the two Infinity Gems (called Infinity Stones in the MCU) that we haven't seen yet, which makes it very likely that it will appear in Doctor Strange next year to provide the Infinity War link and set Doctor Strange on Thanos' radar.
But one question still bugs Marvel fans about Infinity Wars: where the heck is Adam Warlock? If you're not sure who Warlock is yet here's a quick recap of the most important things to know for now:
- He's another one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe
- He possesses the Soul Gem embedded in his forehead
- He's front and centre as a character for both the Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War crises in the comic books.
Apart from the possible Guardians of the Galaxy Easter Egg we haven't had a definite hint that Warlock might yet appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which means someone else is going to have to step in for Infinity War. Someone who is powerful on a cosmic level and possesses the Soul Gem... Does that sound like a Sorcerer Supreme we might know?
Warlock To Be Replaced?
There's already been a lot of speculation that Vision (introduced in [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035) may take Warlock's place in the narrative, but Doctor Strange would be a strong contender for this position too. And if you need more convincing about the level of power that Strange is laying down you can read more about him here.
The Soul Stone is yet to be revealed in the MCU, there's a link to Doctor Strange there and it does need to show up sometime soon in a context that makes sense on the way to Infinity War, so introducing it in Doctor Strange would make a lot of sense.
Of course there is still time to introduce Warlock to the MCU rather than outright replacing him (there's still Mads Mikkelson in that unconfirmed role...) but if not in Doctor Strange then when? [Thor: Ragnarok](tag:956858) would be the next best contender given the cosmic link, but until we know more about that particular narrative it's difficult to speculate.
This change would also make the MCU narrative easier to work with, given that feature length films can't be as complex and overlapping as the 50+ years of vast comic mythology from which they take their stories, and Doctor Strange stands in a good position to take centre stage in place of Warlock. Unfortunately until we learn more all we have for now is speculation.