Marvel fans... rejoice! Doctor Strange is being released across the world, and it’s getting a very warm reception from cinema goers everywhere. It certainly is exciting to see a mystical superhero movie, since it’s been some time since the last Thor movie has sated appetites. But there are a lot of questions that the movie has left for future installments of the #MarvelCinematicUniverse to answer. Now that Doctor Strange has brought magic into these interconnected movies, how could this affect the upcoming films? What are the consequences of his meddling with time?
Read on to find out. But be warned! MAJOR SPOILERS lurk underneath the picture of Strange!
Who Will Be Sorcerer Supreme?
Though the day is saved by Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) wit and trickery, oddly for a Marvel movie, the triumph is somehow muted. In retrospect, it’s not hard to see why. Though Earth and countless lives were saved, the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) was still killed in action, and Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) decided to leave the Masters of the Mystic Arts, leaving several gaps in the staff hierarchy.
So who is the Sorcerer Supreme now? The title is bestowed to the most talented, learned and powerful mystic who protects the Earth, so many have assumed that Strange will take on the role eventually, since he does in the comics. Certainly, such a mantle would suit his cinematic ego down to the ground. Plus, as the movie points out, his photographic memory, intelligence and natural flair for magic make him a force to be reckoned with.
However, the ending doesn’t explicitly tell us whether or not he has assumed the role there and then. Many people are speculating that in his next few appearances, Strange will be sharing the duties with his new friend Wong (Benedict Wong) until he becomes the Sorcerer Supreme at a later date, when he is a bit more experienced.
Alternatively, if the Masters of the Hong Kong Sanctum have survived the battle thanks to Strange's actions, could one of those surviving experts assume the role? Stephen Strange and the Ancient One are not the only mystics to hold the title of Sorcerer Supreme.
Throughout the history of the Marvel Universe, characters such as Merlin and Hiram Shaw have worn the mantle and defended the Earth, so it most certainly could happen in the movies. It would certainly be interesting to see Strange have his nose pushed out, and be even more dramatic if he was at loggerheads with another experienced Master, who may take the order in a direction that our hero disagrees with.
But, let’s face it, if Strange is going to rule the Masters of the Mystic Arts, he’s going to need all of the knowledge and experience that he can get! Assuming that he has spent around a few months training (the time period of Doctor Strange is difficult to place) his prodigal skills alone won’t cut it against his future foes. Case in point: Strange’s multiple deaths throughout his confrontation with Dormammu show how things would have unfolded very differently without his wry trickery of time. Indeed, it’s doubtful that he could have lasted as long without it.
In this way, he is very much like his Ultimate incarnation who, in his various adventures, was inexperienced and confronted his foes in a haphazard way.
I’ve got a feeling that if Strange really is to ascend to be the Sorcerer Supreme and take down the enemies of Earth in the MCU’s future installments, he’s going to have to hit the books and brush up on his technique.
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What Will the Fallout of the Final Confrontation Be?
In a nice change from other comic book movies, Doctor Strange neatly uses the Eye of Agamotto to twist the laws of time to outwit Dormammu and ensure that no death or destruction occurred. However, Mordo is scathing of Strange’s actions, stating that there will be a cost, or consequences to his actions.
So, what could the costs be?
Well, handy for us, Wong and Mordo elaborated on these earlier in the movie when they berated him for manipulating the book and apple, saying that ripple effects, paradoxes or tears in reality could occur from even the slightest temporal tweaking. Reversing the deaths of many people, as well as the collapse of a whole street, are no mean feats, so it stands to reason that something big will be coming his way further down the line.
We’ve seen in many films and programs like Doctor Who how even the smallest changes to the timeline can create opportunities for malevolent life forms to leap across to our planet and dimension, such as the Reapers who consume anyone in sight.
Could something similar happen in the sequel to Doctor Strange? Could these wounds to our dimension put inter-dimensional villains such as Nightmare in a stronger position so that they can attack Earth? This looks like the likeliest route for future films, especially with Nightmare as the antagonist - if director Scott Derrickson has his way! In the comics he is the ruler of the Dream Dimension who has tried to control and imprison the human race on many occasions. Drawing power from bad dreams, he’s a compelling and formidable foe for Doctor Strange who is begging to be realized onscreen.
Or are the repercussions so large that Strange has to get assistance from other heroes? Indeed, his use of the Eye of Agamotto – now revealed to be the Time Stone – could confirm its whereabouts to the Mad Titan Thanos (Josh Brolin). Now that Strange has tampered with the timeline, what other things could have changed? Could the odds now be stacked in Thanos’s favor, and somehow hasten his journey to Earth, or even his abilities in Infinity War?
If one thing’s for sure, this “bill” won’t be pretty when it hits, especially given how things are on Earth...
Aren’t Earth’s Defenses Breached?
Throughout the course of the film, Kaecillius (Mads Mikklesen) attacks the Masters of the Mystic Arts, killing many of the students, Master Drumm of the New York Sanctum, and presumably the Master of the London Sanctum as well. Though we don’t get chance to see them in action much, these characters were obviously very skilled in magic, so all in all, their loss leaves the Masters somewhat weakened in the face of oncoming threats – the less members that they have, the harder it will be to respond to threats.
Strange not only has to contend with short staffing problems, he and Wong also have to rebuild the defences around the world. The protective enchantments around Earth are sure to have been affected by the loss of the London Sanctum as well as the damage sustained to the New York and Kamar-Taj bases.
Could the loss of these make it easier for enemies, like the aforementioned Nightmare, to slip through and start wreaking havoc?
And that's not the only thing that he may have to contend with. As we watch Doctor Strange fight Kaecillius and his followers, we glimpse the destruction of the London Sanctum which, if its anything like the New York branch, would have held various relics and artifacts. What could have happened to those? Would they have been destroyed or, once liberated, be able to play merry hell with the unwitting citizens who may pick them up?
Indeed, Strange himself is responsible for some of their containers being smashed (case in point: the Cloak of Levitation is released to come to his aid). Therefore it's quite likely that the Doctor Strange sequels, or other entries in the #MCU will see him, the other heroes, or even S.H.I.E.L.D cleaning up the damage that these relics inflict, in a similar way to the Marvel One Shot Item 47.
The good Doctor will certainly have a lot on his plate!
Sure, Strange could use the Eye of Agamotto to reverse time, and undo the damage done to the Sanctums and the inhabitants of the MCU. On the other hand, given how strongly Mordo warned him against temporal meddling, I doubt that Strange will want to do it again in a hurry.
With Cumberbatch's Stephen Strange heralding the rise of magic in the MCU, as well as playing a pivotal role in the movies moving forward, its certainly going to be an interesting time seeing him get to grips with the wider, wonderful world. As we've seen above, there are lots of opportunities for compelling stories to be told, spinning out of what we've already seen and discussed after Doctor Strange... and that's even without the growing malice of Mordo!
By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, bring on Doctor Strange 2...ASAP!
Got any theories about the end of Doctor Strange? What do you want to see in the future? Head to the comments and let us know!
[Header Image: Randal Roberts]