The following article contains spoilers for episode 4 of What If…?
The Marvel Cinematic Universe brought Doctor Strange into its fold in 2016, when the first standalone film for the hero was released. As he discovered and mastered the mystic arts, and became the Sorcerer Supreme, Marvel fans loved every bit of his journey and Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the hero. While his powers have been on display from the get go, the latest episode of Marvel’s What If…? now has fans wondering if he is the most powerful being in the MCU.
He is a sorcerer sworn to defend the fabric of time, not like the Time Variance Authority from Disney Plus' Loki though. He is able to bend space and time, with the help of the Eye of Agamotto, and the strength of his true powers are put on display in the fourth episode of What If…? As he grows stronger in the episode, one is forced to analyze if Marvel is in fact setting Doctor Strange up to take the mantle of the most powerful Avenger.
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The origin film introduced fans to Dr. Stephen Strange, a respected neurosurgeon, who is involved in a car crash and loses the ability to perform surgeries. His journey from an arrogant individual to the wise Sorcerer Supreme was highly praised by fans, and Doctor Strange soon became a household name. The character development offered within the two-hour Doctor Strange was immense, and was referred to by many as the best origin story in the MCU.
Even though the MCU has offered fans a look at his powers and the depth of his abilities, his thirst for knowledge will probably lead him to much more strength over time. The fourth episode of What If…? is the perfect example of that. On his journey to bringing back the love of his life, Strange is willing to go to any extent and use any means available, even if it means going down a dark path.
The episode offers fans a chance to imagine what would happen if Strange hadn’t injured his hands in a life-altering accident, but instead lost the woman he loved, Christine Palmer. This loss takes him on a path to discovering the mystic arts and coming into contact with the Ancient One. He will do anything to manipulate time and bring Palmer back, and works hard enough to one day take the mantle of the Sorcerer Supreme.
At this point, Strange is seen going back in time, multiple times, in order to try and save Palmer in the accident. He tries several different options, but unfortunately, Palmer dies each time. His actions seem to have no effect on the end result, which fans later learn is an “absolute point in time,” as explained to Doctor Strange by the Ancient One. It is essentially an event that has to occur, and reversing it would ruin the sacred timeline, potentially creating a Nexus event.
Despite his confrontation with the Ancient One, there is no stopping Strange as he goes on to discover the mysterious Library of Cagliostro to learn how to reverse an absolute incident. Eventually, he succeeds, and is able to save Palmer from dying in the accident. But, the consequences of his actions are much more diverse than he expected, and he ends up destroying the entire universe in his attempt to save just one person. It might be a bit of a stretch, but the ending of the episode is similar to when Thanos snapped his fingers in Avengers: Infinity War and wiped out half the population of the planet.
Even though Strange turns into an evil character while on his quest to bring Palmer back, it isn’t surprising to see the extent of his powers. In his past appearances in the MCU, Strange has offered glimpses of these powers, and outsmarted a demigod. During his brief appearance in Thor: Ragnarok, fans see Strange establish his position as not only a powerful sorcerer, but also a leader and important member of the Avengers. In the film, fans learn that Strange has taken Loki, “Prince of Asgard, Odinson, rightful heir of Jotunheim, and God of Mischief,” hostage for being a danger to Earth. That isn’t a feat for any normal hero. Strange is also able to locate Odin pretty quickly, despite the Asgardian ruler having gone missing years ago.
In his more recent appearances, Strange was seen going up against the Mad Titan himself in both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, which are an example of his great potential. One of his key powers is to analyze a situation and realize that some forces are too strong to go up against. In Avengers: Infinity War, he visits over 14 million possibilities (14,000,605 to be precise) of the heroes potentially defeating Thanos. Needless to say that his photographic memory and intelligence come handy.
Imagine if he were to continue practicing the mystic arts, and learning new tricks, how powerful could Strange go on to become. What If…? is a good place to start exploring that possibility, and wonder the true extent to the Sorcerer Supreme’s powers. Not only has he gone up against massive threats to the universe, like Thanos, but in his latest attempt to bring back someone he loved, he leads the planet towards internal combustion. Could he possibly go on to become the most powerful human in the MCU? Seems like it, but only time will confirm the theory.
What If…? is now streaming on Disney Plus.