Anticipation for Marvel’s latest addition to their Cinematic Universe, “Doctor Strange,” is sky high as the film opens this weekend. But there’s more to this doctor of medicine and the mystic arts than moviegoers may be aware of. Yes, he’s a former surgeon who was once more concerned with his legacy as a world class doctor than the fate of the humanity, but what happens when we remove the cape, the gaudy, circus-ringleader-like jewelry, the tasteful salt and pepper stripe in his hair?

What’s Strange’s story?

Fortunately, we have some third-eye-opening answers in the form of six Strange facts you should know before seeing the doctor’s big screen debut. 

"Strange Tales" #110, image via Comic Link
“Strange Tales” #110, image via Comic Link
Although Strange is thought to be a secondary character, his early comics can still command a premium. Click To Tweet

1. He Got His Start in 1963 With “Strange Tales”

Doctor Strange’s origins can be traced back to July of 1963, when “Marvel Strange Tales” #110, the issue written by Stan Lee and featuring cover art from the legendary Jack Kirby, first hit the shelves. “Strange Tales” was an anthology series that spanned through the decades. Another fun fact, the anthology didn’t only introduce Doctor Strange to the world; it also announced S.H.I.E.L.D.’s one-eyed leader, Nick Fury.

Although Strange is thought to be a secondary character, his early comics can still command a premium. An example of “Strange Tales” #110 actually sold for over $60k.

"The Defenders," image via eBay
“The Defenders,” image via eBay

2. He Has Powerful Friends and Is a Founding Member of The Defenders

Contrary to what Netflix would have you believe, “The Defenders” didn’t originally consist of the likes of Daredevil and company; Doctor Strange originally teamed with the Hulk and others to form the group. In fact, a majority of Strange’s storylines have the hero traveling on a lone wolf path to save the world, but he’s not opposed to forming super powered teams. Along with Strange’s numerous solo crusader stories, he’s been a part of multiple super teams, including The Defenders, the New Avengers, the Ultimate Knights and a slew of other teams and happenstance team-ups.

"Tales of Suspense," image via Tomorrow's Treasures
“Tales of Suspense,” image via Tomorrow’s Treasures

3. He’s Actually Strange 2.0

Stephen Strange wasn’t the first Marvel character to bear the “Strange” surname — actually, he wasn’t even the first doctor with the last name. That title belongs to the lightning-struck, diabolical Dr. Strange, the evil character who first appeared in Marvel’s “Tales of Suspense” #41. In this issue, the evil doctor got the one-up on Iron Man, gaining control of the hero’s suit, back when Iron Man was portrayed as a giant, golden, comical suit of armor.

Stephen Strange wasn’t the first Marvel character to bear the “Strange” surname... Click To Tweet

4. Dammit, I’m a Doctor, Not a Dr. – His Superhero Identity Was Originally Mr. Strange

Speaking of the original Dr. Strange, the early Marvel villain is also the reason why creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko opted to spell out “Doctor” rather than the standard abbreviation. Original attempts to get around the “Dr. Strange” debacle was to call him “Mr. Strange,” but that name was allegedly nixed due to perceived similarities to Mr. Fantastic. 

Movie poster from 1978's "Dr. Strange," image via IMDb
Movie poster from 1978’s “Dr. Strange,” image via IMDb

5. “Dr. Strange” Was a 70s TV Movie Flop

This isn’t the doctor’s first foray into a full-length film, though it’s guaranteed to be more memorable than the initial attempt. Doctor Strange was also the subject of a CBS TV movie in 1978, “Dr. Strange,” full of 70s mustaches, afros and cheesiness. In it, Strange is a psychiatrist before he makes his transition to mystic arts extraordinaire, not a surgeon. Obviously the movie flopped (because you probably haven’t heard of it, have you?), but it did make for 93 minutes of popcorn-chomping laughs, albeit for the wrong reasons.

“Chandu the Magician,” image via eBay

6. Strange’s Inspiration: a Radio Program Magician?

Doctor Strange was conceived at a time when creators Lee and Ditko wanted to spice up the Marvel Universe with a little black magic flair. Enter the 1930s radio show “Chandu the Magician,” aka Lee and Ditko’s muse for the character. According to the character’s creators, Strange’s world, power and abilities are all based off of Chandu the Magician, a hero that also happens to ward off evil with special abilities including illusions, teleportation and astral projection.