Magic as a solidified concept is barely out of diapers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and yet it's already in danger. Despite being teased in the MCU's history — ever since Captain America: The First Avenger — we didn't know real magic until #DoctorStrange hit screens earlier this month, bringing with it a beautiful menagerie of special effects and twisting dimensions.
Both in #Marvel Comics and in the #MCU, magic has never really been defined as a concept. In the MCU it's akin to science, to consciousness and neurological forces, but avoids a clear definition. Because, it's magic. As the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) tells Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) — not everything makes sense, nor does it have to.
But regardless of definition, magic and those who wield it are already in danger as the MCU moves forward. Doctor Strange appears next in Avengers: Infinity War alongside Wong (Benedict Wong), and you can bet we'll be seeing a Doctor Strange 2 and 3 further down the line.
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While the movie itself was fairly self contained compared to the rest of the MCU, it did leave little breadcrumb trails that we'll see picked up further down the line as we move into Phase 4 of the cinematic universe. And one of those is going to become important later. It is, of course, #BaronMordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor).
Baron Mordo Steps Up
Doctor Strange did something quite interesting with Baron Karl Mordo, setting him up as an ally to Strange before his sudden but inevitable betrayal right at the denouement of the movie. This is contrary to how he is usually portrayed in the comics, as he's presented as an antagonist to Strange right off the bat in most tellings of Doctor Strange's origins.
But, as we saw following the climactic battle, once Doctor Strange wields the Eye of Agamotto — the Time Stone — to defeat #Dormammu, Mordo has a significant change of heart. This comes off the back of his earlier expression of horror when he and #Wong discover Strange using the Eye in the library of Kamar-Taj, and he turns his back on them in Hong Kong and leaves — claiming that Strange is disrupting the natural order of things by messing with time.
Add to this Mordo's disillusionment with the Ancient One following her death, whom he felt betrayed by when he learned of the secret to her immortality, and you get one angry dude — and a formidable antagonist.
Why Is He Dangerous For The MCU?
Mordo pops up soon after we see him leave Hong Kong, in the post-credits scene where he confronts Jonathan Pangborn (Benjamin Bratt). We met Pangborn earlier in the movie, a man who was paralyzed in an accident but able to walk by channelling magic to support his legs.
Mordo, cause he's a bad guy now, takes Pangborn's magic from him, claiming that the way he's using it is a perversion of the natural order — the same thing he told Doctor Strange when he started messing with the laws of time. This scene takes place some time after the events of Doctor Strange, and has found Mordo taking up a new mantle — addressing the balance of magic in the world.
His newfound quest finds him taking issue with sorcerers using magic for personal gain, like Pangborn. He believes they are now "perverting nature" with their magic, and he's decided to be the one to sort this out. As he tells Pangborn:
"I've been away for many months now and I've had a revelation. The true purpose of a sorcerer is to twist things out of their proper shape. Stealing power. Perverting nature. Like you... I see, at long last, what's wrong with the world. Too many sorcerers."
Apparently irony is lost on Mordo, as he appears to steal Pangborn's magic in this scene, taking it into himself. So, why is this interesting for the MCU?
It's Pretty Close To The Comics
The most recent volume of Doctor Strange, written by Jason Aaron and complimented by the gorgeous art of Chris Bachalo, recently finished its first arc — The Last Days of Magic. This story sees Doctor Strange facing off against the Empirikul, a science-worshipping sect from another dimension lead by the deadly anti-magic fanatic the Imperator.
The Empirikul traversed dimensions, in each one killing all the sorcerers and eradicating the very magic of the world itself. They nearly destroyed magic in the Marvel Universe and came close to offing Doctor Strange himself, and as a result both he and magic had been left in a weakened state. They hate magic because they see it as an affront to science — an affront to the laws of order themselves. The Imperator describes it as a cancer upon the multiverse, same as he regards those who wield it.
In the MCU, it seems that Mordo has taken on the goal shared by the Imperator — to balance out magic by eradicating other sorcerers. Which means, if he continues down this path, he's going to become the biggest threat not just to Doctor Strange, but to the magic of the MCU as a whole.
Could Scarlet Witch fall into his sightlines in future? She may not be technically "magical," as her Marvel Comics counterpart is, but her powers do stem from a reality altering Infinity Stone, and we know how Mordo feels about those.
We don't yet know when Baron Mordo will crop up again in the MCU, but now that both Doctor Strange and Wong have been confirmed to be appearing in the ensemble venture #InfinityWar it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see him appearing there. Whenever he does though, it's going to be bad news for anyone who has a toe in the sorcery pool at that time.
What do you think Baron Mordo's ultimate goal is? Sound off in the comments, and then check out our ultimate Doctor Strange Easter Eggs video below!