For the past eight years, Marvel Studios has been a juggernaut. The natural question is how long can this last? Next month may provide an answer.
The Walt Disney Co.-owned brand’s next movie up is Dr. Strange, Marvel’s master of the mystic arts.
The good doctor has been more of a cult hit than a mass-market one. He began as a backup feature in Strange Tales, the creation of artist Steve Ditko, who turns 89 on Nov. 2, two days before the movie’s U.S. release date.
Dr. Strange operated in alternate dimensions. As portrayed by Ditko, they were visual striking but looked nothing like our own. Strange had once been a talented, but arrogant, surgeon. He could no longer be a surgeon following an accident, but those events would lead him to his true vocation.
Some college age fans in the 1960s were convinced Ditko was on drugs. He wasn’t. His politics were considerably different than the ardent followers of Dr. Strange.
Dr. Strange wasn’t the commercial success of other Marvel characters. Ditko departed Marvel in 1966, with his final Dr. Strange story appearing in Strange Tales No. 146. While Ditko would later return, he refused to illustrate stories featuring Spider-Man or Dr. Strange, where he made his mark.
Various talented artists and writers took up the Dr. Strange mantle over the decades, including Gene Colan, Frank Brunner, Roy Thomas and Steve Englehart among others. For some, though, it would never be the same without Ditko.
The character was the subject of a 1978 TV movie, but not much came of it.
Now, 53 years after his debut, Dr. Strange hits the big screen in the person of actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
Marvel has had some unlikely hits, including 2015’s Ant-Man, based on one of its lesser known characters. But Ant-Man was still a super hero, Marvel’s bread and butter. Dr. Strange….well, he’s something different.
At this point, it’d be foolish to bet against Marvel. Still, it’s going to be interesting to see how one of the company’s quirkiest characters, devised by one of its quirkiest creators in Steve Ditko, translates to the screen.