The Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to get even bigger, as "Doctor Strange" marks the big-screen debut of the Sorcerer Supreme.
Benedict Cumberbatch dons a cool cloak and even cooler facial hair to play the latest Avenger to get a live-action origin story. Before heading to the theater, check out our list of the six essential things you need to know about Marvel's newest cinematic hero.
1. Marvel Has a Very "Harry Potter-y" Side
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is expanding beyond the traditional boundaries of what moviegoers expect from superhero movies. 2014's "Guardians of the Galaxy" opened up the cosmic side of the MCU, and now "Doctor Strange" is peeling back the curtain on the Multiverse, full of magical spells, almost-supernatural beings, and very, very Dark Arts.
This is Marvel's biggest leap since "Thor." Can the world of magic mesh with a universe where nearly every hero's powers have been based on science? That's one question "Strange" will have to answer. Along the way, expect many (and we mean many) psychedelic displays of power and general weirdness as Strange and his allies explore the the other planes of reality beyond the one we know.
2. It's an Origin Story
"Doctor Strange" is best described as a mash-up of the first Iron Man movie, with a strong dose of 2005's "Batman Begins."
Like the former, it's an origin story about a rich, arrogant man suffering a violent tragedy that sets him on the path to learning humility and putting his talents to more noble use. Like "Begins," that hero's journey requires Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to travel the globe as he seeks enlightenment and trains to become a superhero.
Based on early reviews, fans can expect the movie to stick closely to Strange's origin as established in the comics. We'll see this brilliant surgeon succumb to a car accident ruins his invaluable hands. We'll see him squander his fortune in a fruitless quest to heal himself. And we'll see him cast aside his old life and become a "Master of the Mystic Arts" under the tutelage of the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).
3. There Are Many Sorcerers
Strange won't be the only one training at the Ancient One's sanctuary.
The film will introduce several key players in the magical community, each of whom will react differently to the sudden appearance of this cocky, skeptical rookie. That group will include Wong (Benedict Wong) and Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor).
Interestingly, both characters look to be quite a bit different from the comic book source material. Wong (thankfully) isn't Strange's faithful manservant, but rather an accomplished sorcerer -- and badass librarian with an interest in the musical stylings of... Beyonce. Because reasons.
And while Mordo is one of Strange's main villains in the comics, he appears to be -- for now an ally. Expect Mordo to find himself on the path to the "Dark Side" by the end of the movie.
Also look for Rachel McAdams' Christine Palmer to play a major role as one of Strange's few remaining ties to the mundane world. And, no, she does take on the mantle of Night Nurse in the MCU. For now, the only Night Nurse we have is that of Rosario Dawson's character Claire Temple on Netflix's Marvel shows. (But both Christin and Claire have served as the Nurse in the comics.)
4. The Big Bad Has a Score to Settle
The film is also veering away from the source material by not emphasizing one of Strange's main villains. While the demonic entity Dormammu has an influence on the plot, the main baddie driving the story is a minor one from the comics, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen).
Kaecilius is another sorcerer who trained under the Ancient One, but he broke away from his mentor after having a philosophical disagreement over what role magic should have in the ordinary world. In the film, he also discovers the "dark" secret to the Ancient One's immortality. Kaecilius' goals are less world-domination based, and more, well, let's just say he wants to kind of terra form the non-magical realm with more mystical elements. With a tragic backstory, expect this villain to be the first major test of Doctor Strange's newly-acquired magical powers.
5. Meet the Newest Avenger
Those who aren't up to date on the Marvel Cinematic Universe needn't worry about diving in with Doctor Strange. This is (largely) a standalone adventure, unlike more recent Marvel films.
However, the movie sets the stage for Strange's ongoing role in the MCU. He was already mentioned by name in 2014's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" as someone Hydra considers to be a major threat.
Cumberbatch is set to shoot his role "Avengers: Infinity War" early next year. With the Avengers in shambles after the events of "Civil War," Tony Stark has to find new recruits somewhere. And who better than a man who can bend reality and make the impossible happen?
6. You Will Want to Stay for the End Credits
Only the fans love Marvel's end-credits stings more than the studio does. And this time around, audiences will get two scenes. One helps set the stage for "Thor: Ragnarok" with some help from a certain Avenger, and the other, well, that sets the stage for (fingers crossed) a sequel to "Doctor Strange."
Here's opening the first movie casts a big enough spell on the box office to warrant more chapters.
"Doctor Strange" hits theaters Friday.