The Odd Origin Of Doctor Strange

Ah, yes, Doctor Strange. The hero of the Infinity Wars and arguable one of the most powerful people in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Before you start writing letters claiming Tony Stark is the hero, let us explain. Stark is definitely one of the heroes, but if it wasn’t for Doctor Strange, the universe would’ve only had a 1 in 14,000,605 chance of defeating Thanos. Strange peers into 14,000,605 different timelines and sets the Avengers out on the only one that succeeds. Okay, winner.

Strange is also a fun hero. He’s sarcastic, smart, and his mystical cape causes plenty of shenanigans. We’re not even going to get into how well Benedict Cumberbatch embodied the hero. He was fantastic for the part. But the Strange that Cumberbatch plays in the MCU is nothing like the Strange who first appeared on the pages of Marvel’s Strange Tales back in the 60s. That Strange from Strange Tales would be a strange Strange to see. Here’s why…

The early days of Doctor Strange

The Doctor Strange that we know today is actually a white-washed version of the original, and, honestly, it might be preferable. Strange is stuck between a rock and a hard place on this one. On one hand, white-washing is pure garbage and removes the already limited representation of people of color. On the other hand, the original portrayal wasn’t much better, given that the first appearances of Doctor Strange were pretty racist and encompassed every Asian stereotype that was available in the 1960s. Which, as we know, was a peak period for racism in the United States. At the time when Strange first appeared in the #110 issue of Marvel’s Strange Tales, mystics were typically portrayed in one of two ways: A grey-haired near-osteoporotic white Merlin-type or stereotypical Asian embodying the secrets of the Far East. Marvel went with the latter.

To be fair, Doctor Strange’s origins weren’t mentioned back in those days, so we can’t even say for certain that the character was meant to be Asian. He was, however, drawn with the slanted eyes and deep-in-thought eyebrows that were typical of Asian caricatures from the time. A new story would shortly be released and with it, Strange’s origin. From then on, Strange was a former surgeon who hailed from New York. And, you know, white.

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