Doctor Strange returns in ‘Multiverse of Madness’

“Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness” came to U.S. theaters on May 6. The film was delayed from its original planned release of May 7, 2021, due to the COVID-19 epidemic. 

“Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness” comes to U.S. theaters on May 6. The film was delayed from its original planned release of May 7, 2021 due to the COVID-19 epidemic. 

The film is directed by Sam Raimi, the director of the “Spider-Man” films starring Tobey Maguire from 2002-2007. “Madness” stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen and Xochitl Gomez. 

The original Doctor Strange comics were written by Stan Lee, co-creator of “Spider-Man,” “the X-Men,”  and “the Hulk,” and drawn by Steve Ditko, the co-creator and Lee’s collaborator on the “Amazing Spider-Man” comic.

His comic-book origins in the pages of “Strange Tales,” where Strange debuted in 1963, largely mirror the events of the first film.  The haughty surgeon Dr. Stephen Strange is injured in a car accident; he seeks a whispered-about healer known as the Ancient One. He doesn’t heal Strange but says he sees good in him. After Strange puts aside his selfishness in an attempt to save The Ancient One from a betrayal, Strange is allowed to stay on as an apprentice, and eventually is trained in the mystic arts as Earth’s protector, the sorcerer supreme. A new edition of the “Doctor Strange Omnibus” Vol. 1, featuring these early tales, was released in 2022.  

Lee was inspired by the radio show “Chandu the Magician,” which he had listened to as a child. 

But Dr. Strange’s adventures soon outstripped those of Chandu. Strange has taken part in adventures on his own and as a member of Marvel super-hero teams the Avengers and the Defenders. The 2018 collection “Avengers/Doctor Strange: Rise of the Darkhold” features a number of tales with Strange and the Avengers facing an interdimensional evil known as Chthon, who created the Darkhold and has chosen Scarlet Witch as a vessel for his rebirth. 

The Scarlet Witch, aka Wanda Maximoff, is set to appear in “Multiverse of Madness” as well. Wanda is a reality-altering superhero who first appeared as a reluctant villain alongside her brother, Quicksilver, in the pages of “X-Men” #4 in 1964. She joins the Avengers in “Avengers” #16 in 1965, and eventually becomes romantically involved with, and marries the android known as the Vision. In the films, Scarlet Witch has appeared in the three most recent “Avengers” films and the spinoff Disney+ series “WandaVision.” 

The film will mark the Marvel Cinematic Universe debut of America Chavez, also known as Miss America, who first appeared in the miniseries “Vengeance” in 2011, created by writer Joe Casey and artist Nick Dragotta. She is able to break dimensional walls by punching them; one of her key storylines is in the 2013 miniseries “Young Avengers” by writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie.

The 2015 series “Secret Wars,” which features a number of altered Marvel realities, features roles for Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch and America Chavez, as well as many key Marvel heroes. In the series, a reality-altering event in which multiverses collide results in Doctor Doom reworking reality to his liking until Marvel’s heroes rebel against his rule. 

Matthew Price has written about the comics industry for more than two decades. He is the co-owner of Speeding Bullet Comics in Norman.

A version of this column appears in the April 29, 2022, edition of The Oklahoman.

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