Anyone wishing to pay a visit to Doctor Strange before his movie opens on November 4 is in luck today. Just type his address (177A Bleecker Street, New York, New York 10012) into Google Maps and see what happens. At first, nothing unusual appears. Bleecker Grocery & Convenience, a real-life, disappointingly non-magical business, pops up automatically onscreen. But scroll down through Google’s list of places at this general location. Below the grocery store and a hotel called Caesar’s Palace, there is a third option: Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum. In Marvel lore, this imposing, three-story brownstone is the residence of the cape-wearing, mustachioed occultist of comic-book fame. It’s interesting to find out that Benedict Cumberbatch’s character lives just a short distance from The Comedy Cellar (as seen on Louie) and Saigon Shack, in case he finds himself in need of entertainment or sustenance. Apparently, this little Google Maps easter egg has been attracting the attention of some hardcore comics nerds lately, even though neither Google nor Marvel has really been promoting it. Some fans have even left reviews.
It’s significant that Doctor Strange should have a realistic, searchable address. When he debuted in the pages of Strange Tales in 1963, Marvel was in the midst of building a superhero empire that was distinct from that of its main rival, DC Comics. Marvel wanted its characters, even the ones with superhuman and supernatural powers, to be grounded in some kind of reality. That meant giving them flawed personalities, complicated private lives, and identifiable locations. Rather than setting its tales in made-up places like Metropolis or Gotham, Marvel often opted for using true-to-life locations in New York City. A half century ago, it was actually kind of edgy for a superhero to live in Greenwich Village, then teeming with bohemians. In fact, Marvel writers Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich once shared an apartment at the very location now said to be the site of the Sanctum.
[via The Mary Sue]