What is ‘Dr Strange’ 1978?


Dr Strange is out now and thus we are now well into phase three of the Marvel cinematic universe, complete with brand new intro which does away with those pesky comic books in favour of the shiny, new and much more successful movies, which will take us from here to ‘The Infinity War’ and possibly into the ‘Inhumans’ depending on whether the t.v and movie side of Marvel can kiss and make up. Not to mention that right now Marvel are actually well into production on phase four.

For some this can be a lot to keep up with; not only in terms of continuity and plot but also money. After all as soon as most major cinema chains get a whiff of a Marvel release they hike up the prices for the next few weeks knowing that you’ve got to see it or you’re out of all office gossip for the next two months or until the next major release comes along. Even Dorris the lunch lady is questioning you these days on how much of Mar-vell they are going to get into the Captain Marvel movie and will T’challa be leading the then current line up of the Avengers.

But what are you supposed to do? You’ve just ordered twelve graphic novels off Amazon, in a drunken stupor, so you would be able to follow this movie. Were they just a waste of money?

Fear not true believer! Is this the movie you want? No but it’s the one you deserve. For this is………………………………………………………………………………………..


From the distant past, when the Hulk hitchhiked the country and Captain America was driving past in his hippie van the sorcerer supreme was looking for a piece of the action. Unfortunately things don’t go to well for the old coot. See ‘The Nameless One’ isn’t too keen on Marvel branching into mysticism and magic and sends his greatest weapon against him; Malory Archer. Of course Mallory doesn’t get her own hands dirty and so brain washes an innocent young woman to do the job for her. This leads to her pushing sorcerer supreme, noted stage and screen actor John Mills off a bridge. This of course just triggers his regeneration.

So with evil closing in it’s up to the Doctors glamorous assistant to find the next Sorcerer Supreme, fortunatly he’s fairly easy to spot as he’s wearing an over sized and rather ugly ring bearing the mark. This means that while he’s easy to find for the good guys he’s not to difficult to narrow down for the bad guys either. Though with a name like Doctor Strange and a face like Steve Guttenberg with a porn stache I can’t imagine he would be that hard to locate.


Now despite this being an offically lisenced Marvel property bearing the name Dr Strange this is where the changes come in. For those who don’t know Doctor Strange, his thing was that he was a rather jerkish surgeon who lost the use of his hands in a car accident. He then went off to find a cure but instead found a more humbling position as the worlds first and last line against demons and magic. Think of Tony Stark in the MCU and you’re not too far off, just replace the iron suit for magic. Now clearly this wouldn’t fly on 1970’s television and so he was turned into an all round nice guy and ‘head doctor’ Doctor Strange. So while John Mills deals with utmost evil encroaching on our world Strange deals with alcoholics and mindjacked murderers.

From here Strange must battle demons on the astral plane, a place reached through the Star Gate, deal with Malory’s unwated advances and generally set up a series we never got. Which is truly something of a shame. I mean it was never close to ‘The Incredible Hulk’ but it was better than Spiderman or Captain America could muster at the time. Heck the only reason it flopped was because someone had the bright idea of sticking it on opposite a little show called ‘Roots’. Well so says Stan Lee anyway and he’s never bent the truth to protect his own investment or ego. Right?

Strange manages to run longer than Mordrid with a good twenty or so minutes extra to set up the plot and characters but it would be hard to argue it puts it to good use. As a telly movie from the seventies it isn’t overflowing with budget; hence the loss of car accidents, surgery and Tibet but it tries its best to feel like a movie and that leaves you with a decent slog for the first half as it tries to build up steam, like a Reliant Robin rolling down hill.

You can argue that Strange is closer to the book than Mordrid but it feels more like someone adapting the seventies than someone adapting a comic. Men want to be him and women want to be with him, all the while the music flows along in all of its funky glory just a shame about the opening credits then. This is one to seek out for the novelty value rather than any enjoyment and while technically better than Full Moons stab at it several years later, doesn’t hold the same level of camp enjoyment for me. Though I guess with both of them it’s probably a bit of a moo point.


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