How Doctor Strange's 'Spider Man 3' Appearance May Stem Back to 'What If ...'
POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for the most recent episode of What If … and speculative spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home. Spidey may be able to swing from a web, rescue his high school bully from several supervillain-catalyzed disasters, and perform a mean jazz number while looking emo as hell, but he can't stop you from inadvertently ruining your favorite shows and movies. Read at your own risk.
When the trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home was (definitely not begrudgingly) released last month, it seems the chatter surrounding its leaked origins only partially contributed to its newsworthiness among Marvel's fandoms. As Spider-Man enthusiasts – more than 61 million of them as of publication to be specific – poured over the upcoming flick's latest teaser, eagle-eyed MCU experts began noticing something a bit, well, strange – Doctor Strange, to be specific.
Obliging Peter Parker's request to cast a dangerous spell making the entire world forget that he's Spider-Man, Doctor Strange's dangerous timeline-altering hex goes horribly awry, leading to a conflict so momentous that it somehow manages to drag Alfred Molina's John-Lennon-glasses-sporting Doctor Octopus into its messiness. Generally known for his consistent (albeit sometimes insufferable) pompous, calculated temperament, some fans were so surprised by this steep departure that they began questioning whether Cumberbatch was portraying his Strange character, or if the hero on screen was actually an impostor, a notion that quickly became a popular and incredibly divisive topic amid the MCU fandom.
While some began speculating that the Doctor Strange we see in the teaser is actually controlled by Mephisto, the infamous Marvel villain best known for
never actually showing up in WandaVision antagonizing the Silver Surfer throughout the comics, others, including ComicBook.com's Kofi Outlaw, argued that the move wasn't that out of the ordinary for the Master of the Magic Arts, citing how his ever-apparent ego and penchant for generally knowing more than us viewers do still shined through.
However the rumor mill attempting to decode Doctor Strange's eponymously bizarre behavior began spinning with even more fervor after Wednesday's particularly heartbreaking episode of What If … dropped on Disney+, exploring a universe where, as the episode's title implies, the Sorcerer Supreme “Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands.”
Centering around a universe in which Stephen Strange keeps his hands but loses his lover, Christine Palmer in that car crash, the episode is essentially MCU's response to Groundhog Day, featuring hero gut-wrenchingly turning back time, attempting and failing over and over again at saving her life. The episode culminates with two Stephen Stranges – Doctor Strange and Strange Supreme facing off, the latter, evil version ultimately absorbing his good guy counterpart, combining their powers, in an attempt to bring back Christine.
In light of this revelation, fans have begun questioning if Strange Supreme is actually the version of the Doctor we see in the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer.
“It actually would make so much sense if that Doctor Strange in No Way Home turned out to be the Evil Doctor Strange variant, who finally escaped his prison thanks to Loki's big Multiverse-spawning event,” wrote Outlaw in another article for ComicBook.com, a sentiment broadly echoed by fans online.
Considering we, unlike Doctor Strange, cannot control time, it seems us fans will have to just wait and see when the third Spider-Man installment hits theaters in December.
Top Image: Marvel/Disney