A while back, I wrote a bit about why I dislike Superman, as the epitome of anti-intellectualism. Since the movie is coming out next week, I thought I'd share the antithetical: Doctor Strange.

Like Superman in the DC Universe, Doctor Strange is nigh-omnipotent. The Sorcerer Supreme of the Marvel Universe is described by Eternity as "more powerful by far than any of your fellow humanoids".

For which his virtue and humility is absolutely essential.

Iron Man is a great character – brilliant and arrogant. But while we love his imperious wit, it simply wouldn't work for an omnipotent character. Were Iron Man so powerful, his arrogance would become vile, unavoidably and unintentionally abusing others' fear. Where a superhero should bring out the best in ordinary citizens, arrogance in the Ultimate would expose the worst, creating sycophants and cronies of upstanding persons. A character so near almighty absolutely requires humility and noble modesty, however less interesting to readers, to avoid quickly becoming villainous.

Doctor Strange learned and earned his humility along with his power. By enduring tragedy, losing the skills that enabled his pridefulness, he learned not only the mental and intellectual ability, but the morality and virtue equally necessary to wield such power.

Superman was simply "born in a small town", because that's all it takes to be an American superhero, farm-raising and good 'ol country charm, and you can beat anyone, no matter how smart, because right is on your side.

But Doctor Strange passed through the fire. He faced apotheosis, and accepted the gift of the goddess: not the poor shadow his former self desired, but the imperishable, the inner nibbana which springs not from power, but which engenders it. Thus he becomes the guardian and eidolon we need.

That is why I like Doctor Strange.


Wow. I never got into superhero genre because I have apparently only found the complete garbage so far. For instance, I will take any scene with Venture Bros' Professor Impossible over anything I've read so far about Fantastic Four. You make it sound like I have missed out on some amazing characters and stories. Very eloquently to boot!

Would you mind me requesting some guidance regarding proper superheroes? Ones that after stripping their powers wouldn't be blander than refrigerated mashed potatoes? So far you have convinced me to go to the cinema to watch something, and that didn't happen in at least a year.

posted by rob05c: 538 days ago