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Entertainment Weekly


What to remember about Doctor Strange before seeing Thor: Ragnarok

Jay Maidment/Marvel Studios; Jasin Boland/Marvel Studios

Posted on

“So, Earth has wizards now?” Totally.

Last year, the Marvel Cinematic Universe introduced Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange, a neurosurgeon who loses the use of his hands in a car accident and becomes (cue the dramatic music) the Sorcerer Supreme, earth’s defender against magical and otherworldly threats — and that’s where we see him next in Thor: Ragnarok, perturbed over the arrival of two Asgardians on his turf.

Strange doesn’t have a massive part in the new film, but if you’re like Thor and need a bit of a refresher on this guy’s connection to the latest Marvel installment, here’s what you need to know.

Master of the Mystic Arts

After his accident, the self-obsessed doctor found himself on a desperate search for treatment — a self-destructive mission that drained his bank account. He wound up in Tibet, where he encountered The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), a centuries-old magician who schools him in sorcery. Having saved the world from Dormammu, a demonic entity from another realm, Strange now has a whole host of magical abilities, including spell casting, teleportation by way of portals summoned from the sling ring around his fingers, and the conjuring of weapons made from mystical energy. His sidekick is the Cloak of Levitation, an ancient relic/animated cape that both annoys him and allows him to fly.

A New York State of Mind

Strange resides at 177A Bleecker Street in New York City. Though it may seem like an old-timey mansion to the outside world, the building serves as the New York Sanctum Sanctorum, one of what used to be many places of power that shielded Earth from Dormammu. Most of the Sanctums were destroyed in the events of Doctor Strange, but Strange, having proven himself an adept sorcerer, was charged with guarding the one in New York. Through various portals located throughout the mansion, which itself is a museum of mystic items, he’s able to teleport to various locations — including the hiding place of the Eye of Agamotto, an amulet containing an Infinity Stone that he wields to manipulate time.

Where We Last Left Thor

Thor promptly left earth at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron to go in search of Infinity Stones, the glowing gems that guy Thanos (you remember him, right?) is after. Thanks to the whammy placed on him by Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), he had visions of a “Hell” on Asgard and the stones. (What’d you know? The villain of Ragnarok is Cate Blanchett’s Hela.) Meanwhile, Loki has assumed the Asgardian throne in the guise of his father, Odin, as shown at the end of Thor: The Dark World. But where’s the real Odin? That’s where things stand at the beginning of Ragnarok.

The Doctor Strange Mid-Credits Scene

Strange sits in his new office as he offers a drink to his new house guest, Thor, transfiguring his cup of tea into a self-replenishing glass of beer. He explains to the Asgardian prince how he’s got a new post defending the world from extra-dimensional threats, and Thor’s brother, Loki, set off his radar as he’s one of those names on his supernatural no-fly list. Thor reveals they are on earth to find their father and will promptly leave once they do. Strange becomes more than eager to help. Just as the Ant-Man post-credits scene was a moment plucked directly from Captain America: Civil War, this scene was similarly tapped from Ragnarok to tease the film.

Taika’s Touch on Doctor Strange

Ragnarok director Taika Waititi, known for What We Do in the Shadows and The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, shot the Doctor Strange mid-credits scene, as revealed by the film’s director Scott Derrickson.

“Taika shot that,” Derrickson told Den of Geek in an interview. “I can’t say if it’s from Thor 3 or not, but we had our set up and were going to strike it after I finished shooting and it’s a very expensive set with the chamber of relics and the window and everything. … I don’t know where they were on the script process, but it was before they were in production. Taika wrote that scene and came in and shot it.”

Thor: Ragnarok opens in theaters Friday.