After the release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, there are many questions about Doctor Strange’s powers. In some ways, his introduction to the Avengers makes it seem like he’s the most powerful superhero in the MCU. While he may not have super-strength or super-speed, he has something much more impressive: the ability to manipulate space and time.
In What If…?, he becomes the most powerful (and most evil) version of himself to try to resurrect his long-lost love, Christine, from the dead, in a universe in which she dies. Plus, on a couple of occasions in the new Doctor Strange film, it seems like Doctor Strange could have the power to resurrect the dead. So can he really bring back the dead in the Marvel comics, or is it all a ruse?
Doctor Strange doesn’t technically have the power to resurrect the dead in the MCU.
Although we’re sure Doctor Strange would love to be able to bring the dead back to life, it’s not technically within his wheelhouse. However, Doctor Strange has several other powers that allow him to mimic or at least temporarily resurrect the dead. We see in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness a way in which Doctor Strange semi-resurrects his dead corpse.
When it comes time to save the world from the Scarlet Witch’s desire to be with her sons, who don’t exist in her current universe, Doctor Strange is forced to call upon the Darkhold himself to dreamwalk.
However, in the universe in which he needs to defeat the Scarlet Witch, there’s no version of himself to dreamwalk into — that is, until he realizes that America Chavez brought back a different version of himself who died in another universe. So, Doctor Strange dreamwalks into his corpse, essentially resurrecting himself from the dead.
That’s not the only instance in the MCU that Doctor Strange tampers with the living and the dead. His ability to control time makes it possible for him to change time back to when someone was alive. In addition, in Spider-Man: No Way Home, his incantation to try to help Peter brings villains that we thought were dead, or that were dead in their universes, into Earth-616, the official Marvel universe. So while Doctor Strange can’t technically resurrect the dead, he has ways around this rule.
Doctor Strange may not be able to resurrect the dead in the Marvel comics, but other heroes and villains can.
In the Marvel comic books, Doctor Strange never actually resurrects the dead. The closest he comes is when he accidentally reanimates his dead brother, Victor. However, in the House of M comic books, which incorporate the Scarlet Witch, along with several X-Men storylines, Scarlet Witch actually manages to bring Hawkeye, Quiksilver, and more back from the dead.
And as we now know after watching Moon Knight, the Egyptian god Khonshu has the ability to bring humans back from the dead, as he does with Marc Spector. Other comic book characters, such as Jean Grey aka Marvel Girl, and Robert Reynolds aka Sentry, have their own run-ins with resurrection. Marvel Girl is able to use her psychic powers to resurrect herself, making her practically invincible, while the Sentry is resurrected by the Apocalypse Twins using the Life Seed and Death Seed.
It appears that within the Marvel universe, while many heroes often die and find their ways back to life, pure resurrection is complicated and dark magic. So it makes sense that the Scarlet Witch, who has no qualms about using the Darkhold to get what she wants, is more able to resurrect the dead. And now that the Darkhold is destroyed in the MCU across the multiverse, resurrection could be even more challenging.