Friday, November 4, 2016

Mandatory comparison of Dr. Strange and Sherlock Holmes.

Since Benedict Cumberbatch is going to be best known for two roles at this point,  Doylean consulting detective Sherlock Holmes and Marvel Comics superhero Dr. Stephen Strange, it only follows that Sherlockians are going to have to compare the two.

And, really, it's a pretty easy task.

Both Sherlock Holmes and Stephen Strange are hard-driven professionals.

Both are aware of just how good they are at what they do.

Both wear a distinctive cloak.

Both are great practitioners of that rare art form known as "studying."

Both have a rival whose name begins with "Mor."

Both have a companion whose name starts with a "Wah" sound.

And both now look a lot like Benedict Cumberbatch.

On the flip side of the coin, Stephen Strange is almost more like Sherlock Holmes in his pre-superhero phase of life, when he's a very skilled surgeon at the top of his field. When he turns to the mystic arts, he's no longer at the top of his field . . . yet . . . and is struggling to learn an entirely new profession. With that change, he becomes a lot more altruistic, even though he was saving lives to start with, and altruism is a factor that's hard to gauge in Sherlock Holmes. Does he help people because he's a good guy or just to keep himself from being bored? With Strange, we know, once his origin tale is done.

Of course, Sherlock Holmes is all about science and the limits of the real world, while Dr. Strange is a character of fantasy, which is where their biggest, hardest contrast occurs. For Sherlock Holmes to undergo the transformation that Stephen Strange undergoes to become a master of the mystic arts, there would be a real risk of ruining the character who has been championing basic, down-to-earth skills for a century and a quarter, and getting very woo-hoo silly to boot.

But they do make an interesting pair to compare, which, thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch, is something to do this week.

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