With Doctor Strange opening across North America today, it seems the time for us at MCU Exchange to get our readers involved in helping us compile the most complete list of Easter Eggs, cameos, callbacks, nods and references from the film. Several of us have had the chance to see the film over the last week, so this initial draft will include the things we were able to pick up; however, as is the case with all the Marvel Studios’ films, it’s better to have as many eyes on it as possible so if you notice we missed something, please add it to the comment section and we’ll edit the document and give you a shoutout!
Book of Cagliostro
The Book of Cagliostro was a central plot device in Doctor Strange. An ancient tome, pages of the book apparently contained Dormammu’s cell number were stolen by Kaecilius as the movie began beginning the path towards one of the film’s big reveals. The book also contained instructions on how to use the Eye of Agamotto (the Time Stone), which Doctor Strange quickly mastered, allowing him to ultimately bargain with Dormammu and defeat Kaecilius and his band of zealots.
The Book of Cagliostro first seen in the comics in 1973 in the “Portal to the Past” story in Marvel Premiere #12. Strange used the book to travel back in time in an effort to battle his archenemy, Baron Mordo. The book, written in the late 1700s by a mystic named…Cagliostro, held a vast amount of accumulated knowledge of the mystic arts. The character of Cagliostro himself is interesting as he may well have been based on the real-life occultist Alessandro Cagliostro, a Freemason who lived in the late 1700s.
Staff of the Living Tribunal
In a scene reminiscent of Lawrence Fishburne training Keanu Reeves in the Matrix, Karl Mordo explains to Stephen Strange that some magic is so powerful that it has been encased in relics to allow the Masters of the Mystic Arts to wield it. As he names off some such relics, he calls his own “the Staff of the Living Tribunal.”
The Living Tribunal is, by any measure, one of the most powerful Cosmic beings in Marvel Comics. The Arbiter of the Multiverse, he stands in judgment over all its inhabitants and has been known to lay the smack down on Thanos even when he was fully-powered by the Infinity Gems. By most accounts, The Living Tribunal only answers to The-One-Above-All, the creator of all life in the Multiverse. As the sole Tribunal for the entire Multiverse, he sat in judgment over all other Cosmic entities, dealing out equity, vengeance, and necessity as required.
It’s easy to imagine that he was name dropped for a reason and that we could see some manifestation of The Living Tribunal in Avengers: Infinity War. What’s more is that if a being like him is known to exist in the MCU, it’s interesting to speculate on what other Multiversal beings and Cosmic Abstracts may exist as well.
The Vaulting Boots of Valtoor
Another relic name dropped by Mordo during the scene are his fancy flying boots, The Vaulting Boots of Valtoor. The boots…helped him vault.
In the comics Valtoor was one of 8 extra-dimensional beings, referred to as the Octessence, who were bored and made up a magical dick measuring contest. Each of them imbued a relic with some of their power and placed in a temple on Earth. The first human to come in contact with the relic would turn into an Exemplar, an avatar personifying the power of that being. The Verdant Vial of Valtoor gave Yoshiro Hashiman, an employee of Stark-Fujikawa, the power to snuff out organic life as the avatar Decay. Perhaps more familiar to comic book readers is the avatar of the mystical being Cyttorak. Cyttorak, like Valtoor, was one of the Octessence. He chose to put his powers into a crimson ruby known as the Crystal of Cyttorak which was found by Cain Marko, transforming him into the Juggernaut.
I haven’t read every comic book ever published, but in my reading, I don’t remember ever coming across anything about Valtoor’s boots. I do, however, recall both Strange and Mordo invoking spells to use the Vapors of Valtoor for different reasons. It remains to be seen what happens to Mordo’s boots and whether or not we’ll start to hear Doctor Strange begin saying things like “By the Vapors of Vatoor” in future installments.
Wand of Watoomb
Another relic named by Mordo shares its comic book history with the Vaulting Boots of Valtoor: The Wand of Watoomb. Watoomb, another of the extra-dimensional beings that made up the Octessence, used the wand as his relic. A baton roughly a foot long with demon heads carved into both, the Wand of Watoomb was wielded by Wong in the attack on the Hong Kong Sanctum.
Capable of using mystical energies in many ways and even opening dimensional portals, the Wand of Watoomb is an extremely powerful artifact. It has played a role in several Marvel Comics arcs, recently appearing in The Invincible Iron Man.
If not for several interviews with actress Linda Louise Duan and a couple of comic book prequels, the next cameo may easily have been missed. In the attack on the Hong Kong Sanctum, we see several Masters arming themselves with mystical artifacts. Among the Masters is Tina Minoru, played by Duan. It’s certainly a blink and you miss it type of cameo and nothing of import happens during it; however, it’s what having a Minoru in the MCU means for the future that’s intriguing.
You may recall that Marvel and Hulu are working together to bring a live-action version of the Runaways to TV. The Runaways tells the story of a group of kids who, upon finding out their parents are a group of super-villains known as The Pride, well…they…runaway. Among those kids is Nico Minoru, daughter of Tina, seen in Doctor Strange. The pieces all seem to fit together nicely and it’s possible that Duan could play the role of Tina again in the show. Interestingly, Marvel didn’t just stop at just showing Tina, they also made sure that she armed herself against the attack with a very interesting artifact…
Staff of One
When Tina Minoru armed herself against the attack by Kaecilius and his zealots, she chose an artifact known as The Staff of One. While we only saw a brief glimpse of Tina with the Staff, it bears such an uncanny resemblance to its comic book counterpart that it’s clear what it is.
The Staff of One is one of Marvel’s most powerful magical artifacts, capable of casting nearly any spell imaginable, but it comes with two conditions: each spell can only be cast once and must be accompanied by a blood offering. Much like Tina, the appearance of the Staff of One is more about what it might mean for the future than its 2 seconds of screen time. Fans of the Runaways will recognize the staff as the one wielded by Nico as she becomes one of the more powerful mystics in the Marvel Universe.
When Stephen Strange is thrust into action in the film’s second act after being transported to the New York Sanctum, he attempts to help its custodian defend it against an attack by Kaecilius and the Zealots. Kaecilius addresses the caretaker as Master Drumm. Master Drumm, also called by his first name of Daniel, dies in defense of the Sanctum, leaving Strange on his own to fight off the Zealots. It is the death of Daniel Drumm that leaves the door open to his return and the introduction of his more well-known brother: Jericho.
Jericho Drumm is known in the comics as Brother Voodoo. A powerful practitioner of the Voodoo arts, Drumm’s journey towards becoming Haiti’s Houngan Supreme is incited by the death of Daniel. Deeply intertwined with some of the weirdest, darkest corners of the Marvel Universe, Jericho Drumm’s potential presence in a sequel (confirmed by director Scott Derrickson who said, “I think there’s a good chance you’ll be seeing him down the line. He’s one of my favorite characters in the Doctor Strange comics.“) is an enticing tease for comic fans. Jericho’s connection with the spirit of his deceased brother means we may not have seen the last of Daniel Drumm either!
Agomotto, the first Sorcerer Supreme
Amid all the name dropping of mystical artifacts and candidates for future films, we also heard the name of the Earth’s first Sorcerer Supreme and the entity behind the mystic madness: Agomotto. It was his Orb that showed Strange how the Sanctums protect the Earth and his Eye that allowed Strange the power to defeat Kaecilius and make his bargain with Dormammu, but who exactly is Agomotto?
In the comics, Agomotto was a being of immense power and the first to discover the pathways to magic. One of the Elder Gods of Earth known as the Vishanti, Agomotto loved humanity and defended it vehemently for ages…until he decided to destroy it. An entire dimension unto himself, it’ll be interesting to see if Agomotto makes himself manifest, as he did in the comics, in a sequel.
Doctor Strange’s Astral Surgery
Director Scott Derrickson has relayed the story to several outlets of how his passion for Doctor Strange ultimately landed him the job. During the interview process, Derrickson spent a great deal of his own money to impress Kevin Feige. One such impression was a bit heavily influenced by Brian K. Vaughan’s limited Doctor Strange series, The Oath. Derrickson told EW, “I designed several set pieces [as part of the interview process]. The one that’s in the movie, I wrote, it was a 12-page scene of the astral fight with Rachel McAdams saving his life which is in “The Oath.“
The scene took place in the hospital where Strange once worked as a surgeon and played very well to the audience at my showing. In it, a mortally wounded Strange multi-tasks, helping McAdams’ Christine Palmer save his physical form while defending his astral form from one of the Zealots. While not a panel-for-panel adaptation of the book, it was a fantastic homage to one of the best modern day Strange stories.
Marvel Studios did some fabulous work modernizing the supporting cast of Doctor Strange. That work included moving Wong from the role of manservant into a Master of the Mystic Arts. It also included a nod that many people may have missed: the inclusion of Hamir, the Hermet. Master Hamir, as the Ancient One called him, helped Stephen Strange come to understand that the nerve damage in his hands couldn’t stop him from becoming a Master. Hamir revealed a missing hand to Doctor Strange before channeling some powerful magic.
Dating back to 1963, Hamir has a long history in the comics. Originally an attendant to the Ancient One, Hamir was manipulated by Mordo in an effort to assassinate the Sorcerer Supreme. Over time, it was revealed that Hamir was from an order of warrior monks who dedicated their lives to protecting the Sorcerer Supreme. In the comics, Hamir’s own first born son, Wong, became a protector of some note, serving Doctor Strange admirably and protecting him at all costs.
Thor visits the Sorcerer Supreme
The mid-credits tag for Doctor Strange had one of the film’s lighter moments. The scene features Thor visiting the Doctor in the New York Sanctum asking for help locating Odin. If the scene felt different from the rest of the film, it’s likely because it is a scene from Thor: Ragnarok and was directed by Taika Waititi. Much in the way that the mid-credits tag to Ant-Man was a scene from Captain America: Civil War, this scene is just a peek at what to expect when Thor comes to Earth with Loki. The tag featured a joke about Thor’s beverage of choice, Strange practicing his bargaining skills while he works towards becoming the Sorcerer Supreme and one of the coolest mini-nods yet…
Strange’s heroic journey begins when the loss of the use of his hands pushes him to look beyond modern medicine. His deeply scarred hands are shown often throughout the movie and are a reminder to him of what he has lost, despite all that he has gained. When last we saw Stephen, in his scene with Thor, he had taken to covering his hands with some gaudy leather gloves which have always been a staple of his classic costume. Whether or not we will see them in future installments is unclear, but the nod to the original comic costume was much appreciated!
It wouldn’t be a Marvel movie if it didn’t have a cameo by the man who made it all possible. This cameo finds Stan on a bus reading The Doors of Perception. Written in the 1950s by Aldous Huxley, it gives a first-hand account of experiencing a day under the influence of the hallucinogen mescaline. One doesn’t have to try too hard to understand why this tale of the altering of the perception of reality was chosen to appear alongside the Man!
P.S.: Before any of you complain that we excluded the easter egg about an injured Air Force colonel whom some fans are speculating to be James Rhodes, you need to know it’s been debunked by Scott Derrickson himself. Sorry to break it to you.