The internet is buzzing with excitement around the casting choice – but who exactly is this lesser-known character? And how does he fit in to the world of blockbuster heroes the Avengers?
Well, unlike other Marvel superheroes like Captain America, Iron Man or the Hulk, Doctor Strange’s abilities don’t come from science, but magic – though he does exist in the same world and interacts with the other heroes frequently.
His origin is also a little different – originally a cocky surgeon, Stephen Strange’s hands were damaged in an accident, leading him to seek out miracle cures to restore his livelihood.
Eventually this quest led him to a mysterious wizard called the Ancient One, who instead took Strange on as a pupil. After years of study, Strange took his master’s place as Sorcerer Supreme, meaning he is the official warden of Earth’s magic and protector from mystical threats – including his nemesis, extra-dimensional monster Dormammu.
Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (the same team who came up with Spider-Man) in the 1960s, Doctor Strange had a surge of popularity in the early days apparently thanks to artist Ditko’s era-appropriate psychedelic renderings of mystical dimensions and arcane spells.
In more recent years his star has waned and he rarely appears in his own comics, but pops up frequently in other superhero stories and has even been a member of the Avengers.
Cumberbatch will no doubt be deep in preparation to play the comic book character – maybe he should get some experience playing an arrogant genius who takes on the forces of evil? If only there was such a part in his repertoire…