Is Pangborn In The 'Doctor Strange' Comics? TheCharacter Could Be The Key To Future Films
In July of 2016, Marvel fans were surprised to find out that actor Benjamin Bratt had been secretly added to the Doctor Strange cast list. There were no big announcements about him joining the film, but some eagle-eyed fans were quick to notice his name on one of the first Doctor Strange posters. As word of his casting spread, fans speculated about who he could be playing. Would he be a new villain, a secret sorcerer, or, perhaps, as /Film theorized, a new CGI character? It has since been revealed that Bratt plays Jonathan Pangborn. And, if you're a Doctor Strange newbie like me, you're probably unsure of if Pangborn is in the Doctor Strange comics or how he relates to that storyline.
It turns out that Pangborn is a completely new character for the Marvel Universe, both onscreen and off. Pangorn makes his Marvel debut in Doctor Strange, and, as his complete absence from any promotional material should tell you, he's not in it for very long. Bratt's casting may have been pretty unceremonious and his character might only appear in a few scenes, but make no mistake, Jonathan Pangborn is crucial to the developments in Doctor Strange. (Spoilers ahead!)
In Doctor Strange, Pangborn is a regular New Yorker who miraculously healed from a paralyzing injury. When post-car accident, pre-sorcery Doctor Strange finds him, Pangborn is playing basketball when he should — medically speaking — be confined to a wheelchair. It's Pangborn who sends Strange to Kathmandu, Nepal, where he can find the Ancient One and, hopefully, heal his hands. Once he arrives at Kamar-Taj, the secret home of the Ancient One, he Doctor Strange finds out that Pangborn studied magic there, and is constantly using his magic to overcome his medical conditions.
Pangborn doesn't show up again until the second end-credits scene, where he, again, plays a pivotal role in the character development of a leading character. The scene sets up Mordo's transition from hero to villain as he seemingly takes away Pangborn's magic, leaving him helpless on the floor. In Mordo's view, Pangborn's use of magic is perverting nature's will, which will clearly be Mordo's driving principle going forward.
The character of Pangborn exists partly to transition Doctor Strange into his identity as a superhero and Mordo into his identity as a supervillain. Because of changes made to Doctor Strange and Mordo's origin story in the film, filmmakers needed a new way to bring Doctor Strange to Kamar-Taj, as well as a new motivation for Mordo's villainy. In the comics, Mordo is a villain because he is jealous of Doctor Strange, but filmmakers wanted Mordo to have a deeper purpose onscreen. "The jealous rival named Baron von Mordo, who turns against him [Strange] when he shows any signs of talent — we specifically didn't want to do that," said Marvel's Kevin Feige, via Comic Book Movie. With Pangborn, filmmakers successfully gave Mordo an entirely new driving principle, thus offering a new take on the villain.
It's unclear whether or not we'll see Pangborn again in future films. The end-credits scene didn't make clear whether or not Pangborn had completely lost his magic to Mordo or not, so it's entirely possible that he could return as a sorcerer and fight alongside Doctor Strange. Weirder things have happened.
Images: Walt Disney Studios