The incredibly anticipated Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will open in theaters in just a few days, and things are going to get wild for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in ways that have only been teased until now. Sure, Loki and Spider-Man: No Way Home were wild in opening up parallel worlds, but if the trailers and teasers for the Doctor Strange sequel are to be believed, no one is prepared for just how weird things are about to get. However, there's one thing we can know for certain as the Multiverse breaks open into pandemonium: this is all Stephen Strange's fault, and it always has been. Whatever our heroes are facing — and whatever we, as the audience, are about to experience — the blame should be directed at him.
You can't deny it: Stephen Strange has always been an arrogant guy. He was an absolutely brilliant surgeon, that's true, but his attitude kind of sucked. Take a moment to go back and rewatch Doctor Strange. All of the evidence of Stephen Strange's arrogance is right there, to the point where his arrogance is key to the plot. As much as the movie was an origin story for how Stephen Strange got those fancy magic problems, it was also a sort of a journey of humbling for him. He humiliates Nicodemus West in front of colleagues. (Okay, yeah, the guy made a huge error. But there are better ways to handle that.) He's not especially nice to Christine Palmer, who, at one point, calls out his huge ego. And let's just acknowledge that the car accident that destroyed his hands was caused by him trying to read an email on his phone while speeding on the way to a speaking engagement. Then, once he ends up at Kamar-Taj, he is initially disrespectful of the mystical location, and assumes the Ancient One is an old man. When he finally meets the actual Ancient One, he's kind of a jerk to her too, until she shushes him up by showing him just how wrong he is.
But even then, he doesn't entirely chill out. His arrogant behavior and disrespect continues. It gets him tossed out by the Ancient One, until someone feels bad for him and changes her mind. Then he tries to skip doing the work because he thinks he's better somehow. He even decides to use the Eye of Agamotto pretty much on hubris and assumption. And even then, when Strange does make mistakes, his attempts to resolve them are pathetic. The movie also just glosses over the consequences and somehow things end up with this barely-trained, high-ego guy who doesn't fully take responsibility for his own mistakes becoming "the best of them all" and the new sorcerer supreme. If one was looking for a recipe for magical disaster, this is it.
Sure, by the end of Doctor Strange, our hero has come a long way in terms of choosing the greater good over himself. After all, that's how he ends up deciding to stick with the magic stuff, rather than just fixing his hands and going back to his life as an immensely gifted surgeon. But that doesn't mean his choices necessarily get any better. Let's jump ahead a bit to Avengers: Infinity War. We all know the scene where Doctor Strange creates a time loop and lives out 14,000,605 possible scenarios in the fight against Thanos, finding that there is just one in which the heroes prevail. Even though he sees the one successful outcome, dude doesn't give the heroes anything to go on. He just says there's one shot. That's it, no details. The guy who had no problem bending the rules for himself, with little regard for outcome before, just decides to go no-info now. He could have at least been like "So, things are going to get really bad and seem utterly lost for a while, but don't give up hope". Even when things went down, he didn't do anything more than tell Tony Stark they were now in the "endgame". Sure, there's the whole "if I tell you what happens it won't happen" thing, but some reassurance isn't the same thing as details. Strange's ridiculous decision to be mysterious and vague just made the next five years for the heroes all that much more bleak.
So, at this point you're probably saying "Okay, we get it, Doctor Strange is a jerk. But how does that make things his fault?" Glad you asked! For that, let's look at Spider-Man: No Way Home and WandaVision. Lots of people like to point fingers at Wanda Maximoff for her misdeeds in magic, but Wanda's also someone who was decidedly left without support or a mentor, particularly since the devastating events of Infinity War and Endgame. As someone with magic and mystical powers, how hard would it have been for Doctor Strange to reach out? Instead, Wanda was mostly left adrift, and we all saw how well that turned out. As for No Way Home, Doctor Strange's arrogance rears its head yet again when he agrees to do a dangerous spell. While it may have been a spell he'd used before for minor things — Strange mentions using it at a party at Kamar-Taj — his usage of it for Peter Parker is a bit more than a party trick. Yes, Peter's interference that plays a key role in the spell going a bit bonkers and awry, but Strange knows better than to try it in the first place. On top of that, Strange doesn't even do his due diligence in talking with Peter about the whole situation before getting his magic on. With great power comes great responsibility, Stephen, and you shirked yours.
By the end of No Way Home, the spell can no longer be contained, and the multiverse starts to crack open, leading to Strange casting another spell that causes everyone to forget Peter Parker. While that worked in the short-term — the impact on the Multiverse? Yeah, that's still there, hence the whole Multiverse of Madness of it all. Two situations involving magic where Strange (arguably the more experienced and responsible party) should have stepped up and he didn't, leaving a kid and a traumatized young woman to bear the consequences alone.
With botched spells that should never have been undertaken in the first place and a history of arrogance, Doctor Strange may be a fascinating guy and a really powerful practitioner of magic, but he's absolutely to blame for the mess we're in for in Multiverse of Madness. This has always been Doctor Strange's fault, but here's to hoping that when facing the Multiverse of Madness — and with the help of people like Wanda Maximoff — one of the most powerful sorcerers in the MCU will be able to save the day and set things right. And maybe learn to be a little less chaotic himself in the process.
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