"Benedict Cumberbatch" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Marvel’s What If Recaps – Dr. Strange Gone Rogue

Dr. Strange is a character of power and mystery

By Chinmay Kulkarni

The Marvel multiverse is a concept that not only has been suggested but is forced down the throats of viewers in the post-Avenger’s Endgame era. The MCU excellently teeters the line between lighthearted and dark – movies have been stuffed full of action sequences followed by formulaic lightheaded and gag-inducing scenes. Viewers were clamoring for darker, edgier content, and now have finally delivered. The new series What if focuses on creating extremely grim timelines in several of the flagship franchises as part of the series. No timeline is as dark and insightful as Dr. Strange’s timeline and shows how the Marvel world can quickly become a dystopia with a single choice.

To recap his episode, specifically episode 4, we learn that Strange’s actions are dictated by the passing of his girlfriend Dr. Christine Palmer as the passenger in a car accident. He travels and learns the mystic arts similarly to the first Dr. Strange movie and later finding the time stone. This time, he attempts to save Palmer using it, only to learn from the Ancient One that her death is an ‘Absolute Point’ in their universe – one that cannot be fixed regardless of time manipulation. As Strange is unable to accept this fact, the Ancient One splits him into alternate versions, one that accepts Palmer’s death, and one that tries to fix it – the latter eventually becoming Strange Supreme (the most powerful version of Dr. Strange) and destroying the good Strange while bringing back Palmer and subsequently collapsing the universe. In the end, Strange Supreme is overcome with grief as he sits in his lonely universe, condensed to a singular point in space.

This episode is one of the best in the entire series. Not only do we see some excellent visuals in the animated style, but compelling storytelling following Strange’s grief allows the viewer to sympathize with his self-destructive nature in the name of love. This is likely the bleakest endings of any episode in the series and gives an awesome contrast with the main-series Marvel movies – in which the main character always wins. Strange Supreme plays more of an anti-hero in this episode, one where the viewer wants to see him win for the sole purpose of seeing a variance of timelines from the main series Marvel movies.

If the Marvel movies are becoming too lighthearted and formulaic, this series, and especially the Dr. Strange arc, is an excellent storytelling experience that doesn’t require watching other episodes in the series.

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