Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home and What If...?
One of the most complicated characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Doctor Strange. At first, he’s just a doctor, but he goes on to become a man of mysticism, caught between the worlds of science and magic. Not only that, but it’s his responsibility to maintain the integrity of the universe. No pressure.
However, in Spider-Man: No Way Home, his role in the MCU takes a turn.
Before the movie, many MCU fans were speculating that Doctor Strange isn’t really Doctor Strange, because why would an all-powerful sorcerer use his magic to make Peter Parker’s life easier? Now that Spider-Man: No Way Home is here, people are confused about whether he’s still a hero, like in Avengers: Infinity War, or if Doctor Strange is now a villain. We're here to break it down.
Doctor Strange may not ever be a hero or a villain.
Although Doctor Strange’s efforts in Avengers: Infinity War are largely heroic, he’s not a hero in the same way that other MCU heroes are. His goal is not really saving innocent people, but largely protecting the integrity of the universe (and now the multiverse). He’s often hesitant to get involved in heroics, and isn’t necessarily considered an “Avenger.”
But in Spider-Man: No Way Home, many argue that he takes on the role of a “villain.” Our hero is Peter Parker, and because Strange's motives clash with Peter’s, he becomes Peter’s antagonist.
At first, the entire conflict is caused by Doctor Strange when he agrees to do a spell that would cause the entire world to forget that Peter is Spider-Man. Wong warns Doctor Strange that the spell teeters on the edge of the dark realm, yet Strange decides to attempt it anyway.
Because Peter alters the spell six times while Doctor Strange is casting it, the spell results in chaos, unleashing villains from other Spider-Man universes into the Tom Holland Spider-Man universe. While Peter and Doctor Strange initially work together to round up the villains in order to send them home. However, when Aunt May convinces Peter that to cure them and offer them a second chance at life in their home universes, Peter and Doctor Strange are at odds.
They fight it out in the mirror dimension, and Peter traps Strange there as he attempts to save the villains from themselves. Suffice it to say that in Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange is a major antagonizing force.
So what’s the deal with Doctor Strange’s evil twin in the post-credits scene?
Marvel surprised fans by including a trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as Spider-Man's second post-credits scene, and it reveals a character we’ve been waiting for: Strange Supreme.
Because Doctor Strange seemed so villainous in Spider-Man: No Way Home, is it possible that Strange Supreme was actually impersonating the Doctor Strange we know and love? We don’t yet have an answer, but we’re sure to find out in the upcoming Doctor Strange film.
However, some Marvel fans are already familiar with the evil Doctor Strange lookalike. In Episode 4 of the Disney+ animated series What If…?, we meet Strange Supreme. In an attempt to bring back the love of his life, Christine Palmer, Strange Supreme goes back in time to O’Bengh to learn how to bring her back.
He absorbs every mythical creature across the universe, which turns him into a darker, more powerful being who causes his universe to descend into nothingness.
In the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer, Rachel McAdams also appears as Christine Palmer, so it’s very likely we’ll get a similar backstory in the upcoming sequel. Could we see a face-off between Doctor Strange and his evil multiversal twin, Strange Supreme? Or has his evil twin already hijacked the MCU?
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is set to release in theaters on May 6, 2022, and Spider-Man: No Way Home is in theaters now.