Way back when we first learned that Rachel McAdams — an indomitable star of film and television — was on board for a then mystery role in Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange, it’s safe to say we all got pretty excited about the prospect of seeing her joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Fresh off her Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress in Spotlight, McAdams was highly rumored for the role of Clea — the extra-dimensional and super-powerful sorceress, and now estranged wife of Doctor Stephen Strange. When it comes to females who have been intertwined with Doctor Strange, Clea is certainly the most prevalent character, but she’s far from the only one.
So it wasn’t too much of a surprise to learn that McAdams would not be playing Clea, but a version of Christine Palmer — one of the Night Nurses from Marvel Comics. But, as usual, the MCU is putting a new twist on her character for the movies. Let’s break it down.
Who Is The Night Nurse?
The Night Nurse is a title that can be applied to three different characters from the Marvel Comics: Georgia Jenkins, Christine Palmer and Linda Carter. The three appeared together in the Marvel Comics' title Night Nurse as roommates who all worked at a New York City hospital, and the Night Nurse title was later adopted by Linda Carter, the most prevalent of the three.
Linda Carter is one part nurse and another part detective, appearing in the Daredevil comics as an ally to Hell's Kitchen heroes Luke Cage, Daredevil and Iron Fist. She operates an underground clinic for wounded superheroes in New York City, paying back their public service with a little of her own.
She’s typically a background character, providing off-the-record assistance to heroes in their times of need. But she was involved in both the Civil War conflict and the Skrull war of Secret Invasion, and has had an interesting relationship with Doctor Strange himself (we’ll get to that).
Hang On, Doesn’t The MCU Have A Night Nurse Already?
Well, yes. The Marvel Netflix shows have already presented us with a version of Night Nurse — Claire Temple, portrayed by Rosario Dawson — although she’s not yet become officially known by that name, apart from a little reference in the newly released Luke Cage. Claire appears in the shows Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, and you can bet we’ll see her again in Iron Fist and The Defenders.
The MCU’s Claire Temple is actually an amalgamation of two characters: Night Nurse and Claire Temple, who was an early love interest of Luke Cage. However, she’s so far been connected only to the ground level heroes of Hell’s Kitchen, and hasn’t shown up in the cinematic MCU (yet). Likely Christine Palmer may be her movie equivalent. You can never have too many Night Nurses, after all.
How Does Night Nurse Relate To Doctor Strange?
For those of you who tuned into the Marvel Comics around 2006 you might be familiar with the relationship between Doctor Strange and Linda Carter. After Linda saved Strange’s life when he was shot at the beginning of The Oath, the two began working together to save Wong from dying of cancer, and Linda’s hospice clinic was destroyed by a demon for her part in the story.
Strange then offered his home — the Sanctum Sanctorum — to Linda to use to see patients as he felt responsible for the destruction of her hospice clinic — well, that and his ulterior motives, which ended with the two making out.
Strange and Linda then dated for a while, but their relationship ended when Strange lost control of his powers in the aftermath of messing with dark magic in World War Hulk. At this point he relinquished the title of Sorcerer Supreme and pretty much disappeared, leaving his home, friends and Linda behind. She’s come into his orbit a few more times since then, but mostly in relation to his work with the New Avengers and Luke Cage.
How Is Night Nurse Being Adapted For The MCU?
As previously mentioned, we’ve already seen an adaptation of Night Nurse in the form of Claire Temple — the Night Nurse OG of the MCU. But it's pretty certain that Christine Palmer is going to be another Night Nurse in at least some capacity, due to both her namesake and what we’ve heard of her character so far.
For one thing, she’s a surgeon. Linda Carter’s Night Nurse was always more than a nurse too, able to perform complex surgeries and other medical procedures. But her position as a surgeon is wound very tightly into Doctor Strange’s backstory, in a way that we haven’t seen before.
Though Linda may have performed surgery to save Strange’s life when he was shot during The Oath, Doctor Strange’s Christine Palmer is a fellow surgeon and colleague to Strange, who appears to support him.
In the first Doctor Strange trailer we see her present when Strange is rushed to hospital following his accident, so it's possible that she is directly involved in the surgery that fails to save the nerves in his hands, sending him spiraling into depression and heading down the path that leads him to the Ancient One.
She’s also a potential love interest as per Linda Carter — though it seems she might have been a lost love of Stephen Strange, rather than a new one. As Marvel Studio's president Kevin Feige described her to Entertainment Weekly:
"Rachel McAdams plays a fellow surgeon that has a history with Strange and is his sort of lynchpin to his old life, once he steps into the role of a sorcerer. She is someone he connects with at the beginning, and reconnects with, and helps anchor his humanity."
Why Is She Important?
Christine is important as she will provide a certain lens through which to view Strange, as she’s one of the few characters in Doctor Strange who will have knowledge of him both before and after his accident, and his subsequent “rebirth” as Sorcerer Supreme. As per executive producer Stephen Broussard's comments to EW:
"Rachel McAdams is sort of [Doctor Strange’s] contemporary in the modern-day New York world, before and after he goes on this crazy journey. So, she sees him before, she sees him after. She’s kind of this audience point of view."
How important she will become is yet to be seen though, as she hasn’t been particularly prevalent in any of the promotional material so far. But you don’t get an actress like McAdams on board if you aren’t planning on doing something pretty exciting with her.
There’s no word yet as to whether or not McAdams has signed on to a multi-picture deal with the studio. But given Marvel’s predilection for doing so, it wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that they have bigger plans for Christine Palmer further down the line.
Whether or not we’ll see her becoming the Night Nurse proper, we’ll have to wait to find out when Doctor Strange rolls around. Thankfully, there’s not much longer to go now, as the movie releases November 4th in the US.
What do you want to see from Christine Palmer in Doctor Strange? Start a conversation in the comments, and check out our OG video of the first sightings of Doctor Stephen Strange in the MCU below!
(Source: Entertainment Weekly)