The untold truth of Dormammu

Unto every superhero a super villain must come, and in the case of Doctor Strange, that villain is the dread Dormammu. Those who've seen Benedict Cumberbatch battling this dark, despicable figure are already aware of the depths of his power, but those who haven't read the good doctor's long and storied history on the comic book page aren't aware that Dormammu's history is almost as long. We took a look back through the decades and pulled out a few facts you may find fascinating about this fiery figure, but know this, mortal: there are spoilers afoot, so read at your own risk.

Dormammu has been a member of Doctor Strange's rogues gallery for more than half a century

Dormammu has been a thorn in Doctor Strange's side virtually as long as there's been a Doctor Strange. The character of Stephen Strange made his debut in the pages of—where else?—Strange Tales #110 in July 1963. It was only just over a year later, in November 1964, that the character of Dormammu was formally introduced. Prior to his actual first appearance, however, the evil surrounding Dormammu had already been played up considerably, to the point where the cover art of that issue trumpeted, "DR. STRANGE AT LAST INVADES THE DOMAIN OF THE DREAD DORMAMMU!"

Dormammu's creators hadn't really planned on expanding on the character beyond offhanded references

In the so-called Silver Age of Marvel Comics, as classic characters like the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men were being introduced, colorful language and flowery phrases were plentiful in the dialogue. This extended into the pages of Doctor Strange, where Stan Lee had made reference to a despicable despot known as Dormammu because it sounded good, but as he explained to Mike Conroy in the 2004 book Comic Book Villains, that's about as far as it went until the readers started to rebel. "It seems there was something about that nutty name, Dormammu, that was keeping Doc's devoted disciples awake at nights trying to figure out who Dormammu was," Lee told Conroy. "I knew I was in big trouble. I had made up the name—now I had to dream up a character to go with the name. But who? How? [Ditko] gave the demonic DD…a visage totally different from any villain I had ever seen in comics before."

In the comics, Dormammu and Mordo have been linked from the very beginning

As is so often the case, the movie origin of Doctor Strange and the comic book origin of Doctor Strange don't quite line up, and the same can be said of Mordo, Strange's fellow disciple to the Ancient One. While the two sorcerers both learn their skills of sorcery from the same place in the comics, Mordo is working in Dormammu's service from the very beginning. As such, don't be surprised if the two characters link up on the silver screen sometime in the next sequel or two.

Speaking of evil alliances, Dormammu and Loki also have a history together

If you've seen Doctor Strange already, then you've seen the mid-credits sequence which teases the good doctor's appearance in next year's Thor: Ragnarok—which makes for some great inter-company synergy, but don't be surprised if their respective villains manage to join forces at some future juncture as well. During the 1970s, one of the great fan-favorite crossover storylines was one known as "The Avengers / Defenders War," wherein two of Marvel's most prominent superhero teams were tricked into battling each other. The orchestrators of this misguided skirmish? You guessed it: Dormammu and Loki. A few years later, there was also a story in which Dormammu battled Odin in a cosmic chess match with the fate of the universe at stake, but…well, we'll save that story for another time.

Dormammu is a member of a race of energy beings known as the Faltine

Needless to say, as a character that barely existed beyond being referenced in a few lines of dialogue, Dormammu's backstory required a bit of fleshing out. That didn't happen overnight, but it was eventually revealed that he was a member of a race of energy beings known as the Faltine, one who was thrown out of the realm where he first came into existence and settled in the well-named Dark Dimension…and he wasn't alone.

Dormammu has a sister named Umar

The first thing you're going to notice about Dormammu's sibling is that she would appear on the surface to come from much prettier stock than her brother. In fact, they're both energy beings, and when Dormammu was exiled, Umar was, too—but Umar either chose or was forced into human form, depending on which storyline you read. At one point, she was Baron Mordo's lover, and she apparently shared a special moment with the Hulk at some point, but the most interesting dynamic in the comics is that Umar is Stephen Strange's mother-in-law.

Dormammu also has a niece named Clea, better known in the comics as Mrs. Stephen Strange

Since the first time Clea saw Doctor Strange, she was fascinated by him, to the point of betraying her uncle to help Strange—so you can only imagine that the romance that evolved between the two characters has been right up there with Romeo and Juliet in terms of star-crossed lovers, with both Dormammu and Umar doing everything within their power to punish Clea for her impudence. Over the decades, however, the two found their way into some semblance of a proper relationship—if one that's been fraught with problems over the years—so don't be surprised if Clea turns up in the Doctor Strange sequel. Granted, the marriage might take awhile, but for longtime fans, it's hard to imagine the Doc without Clea in his life.

In the film, Dormammu is played by...wait for it...Benedict Cumberbatch

It's been widely reported at this point, but in case you haven't heard and didn't notice when you were watching the film, the character of Dormammu is portrayed in the film by none other than Doctor Strange himself, Benedict Cumberbatch. "It was sort of my idea," Cumberbatch told Eric Eisenberg of CinemaBlend. "I went, 'Look, if this is going to work, rather than being a big ghoulish monster, if it's some kind of reflection of him—if it's something that he's giving that's coming back at him in a really horrific way, that would be fun! And I'd be happy to do the voice for it. Any facial capture.' And they were like, 'Really?' 'Yeah, okay.' So I did, and it kind of works, because… I don't know, maybe it doesn't work! It's not immediately noticeable, but a lot of the animation is sort of like a mirror reflection, a rippled mirror reflection, of him, of Strange."

Dormammu really gets around: he even battled the Guardians of the Galaxy in the 30th century

Comic book fans already know that the original incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy actually took place in the far-flung future, and when the super-team had a revival in the 1990s, they found themselves doing battle with Dormammu, who—if we've got this straight—traveled to the future, possessed his future self, doubled his power, and attempted to defeat both the Guardians as well as the future version of Doctor Strange, known at that point as the Ancient One. Heroes and villains: their stories always come full circle eventually.