Summary

  • Doctor Strange has played a pivotal role in the MCU’s Multiverse Saga and is set for an exciting future.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch has appeared in various MCU projects, including a solo double-bill, two
    Avengers
    films, and the MCU’s
    What If…?
    series.
  • Doctor Strange’s backstory includes a tragic past, a stellar medical career, and his journey into the depths of the MCU’s Mystic Arts.

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Since 2016’s Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Master of the Mystic Arts has embarked on some incredible adventures in the MCU. Adapted from Marvel Comics’ Doctor Stephen Strange, who debuted in 1963’s Strange Tales #110, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange has been a core character in the MCU since his debut in Phase 3. Despite being introduced later than many of the MCU’s other cornerstone heroes, Doctor Strange played a pivotal role in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, and has become one of the most important figures in the MCU’s Multiverse Saga, setting himself up for an even more exciting future.

As well as leading two solo projects in the MCU, 2016’s Doctor Strange and 2022’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Benedict Cumberbatch has also appeared in a number of other stories. Doctor Strange was crucial to Infinity War and Endgame, and has also made appearances in Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and has been central to the multiverse-spanning stories of Marvel Studios’ What If…? anthology series. Following the conclusion of the MCU’s Infinity Saga, Doctor Strange has led the charge into the Multiverse Saga, and his backstory has given the MCU some of its most impressive moments.

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All 7 Doctor Strange Costumes In The MCU, Ranked

Doctor Strange is recognized by his robe and the Cloak of Levitation, but he and his variants have donned some other unique costumes in the MCU.

18 A Tragic Accident Inspires Stephen Strange To Become A Doctor (1970s/1980s)

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (2022)

Doctor Stephen Strange about to perform surgery in Doctor Strange

Not much is known about Stephen Strange’s early life, though based on Benedict Cumberbatch’s own age, it could be assumed that Strange was born in the 1970s. Despite nothing being known about his upbringing, a short exchange with his multiversal variant in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness revealed that Strange had a sister, Donna. In their childhood, Donna drowned after falling into a frozen lake, and it was Strange’s inability to save his sister that inspired him to become a doctor.

17 Stephen Strange’s Photographic Memory Helps Him Excel At Medical School (1990s)

Doctor Strange (2016)

Doctor Strange speaking to Christine Palmer in scrubs in Doctor Strange

Presumably in the 1990s, Stephen Strange attended medical school at Columbia University, a popular alma mater for Marvel’s superheroes. Helped along by his photographic memory, Stephen Strange excelled in medical school, graduating with his MD and PhD simultaneously. He learned all the technical aspects of his prospective job incredibly quickly, but spent years repeating behaviors and learning new ones in order to become the best doctor he could possibly be, inspired all the way by his sister’s tragic demise.

Doctor Strange Poster

Doctor Strange

Release Date
October 25, 2016

Director
Scott Derrickson

Runtime
126 minutes

16 Stephen Strange & Christine Palmer Meet & Briefly Date (2000s)

Doctor Strange (2016) & Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (2022)

While working in the ER Department of Metro-General Hospital in New York City, Strange met fellow surgeon Christine Palmer. Since Strange had begun specializing in neurological surgery, focusing his research on the formation of new nerve cells, Strange and Palmer invented a new laminectomy procedure. The pair began dating, but Strange’s arrogance and focus on his work drove them apart, though they remained close friends. In an alternate universe detailed in What If…?, Palmer’s relationship with Strange ended in her tragic death, marking an Absolute Point that Strange tried vehemently to break.

Rachel McAdams played Christine Palmer in Doctor Strange and its sequel, and also appeared as Palmer’s Earth-838 variant and a version of the character in What If…?.

15 Stephen Strange Works Behind The Scenes Of The MCU (2012-2016)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) & Avengers: Endgame (2019)

The Ancient One meeting Bruce Banner's Smart Hulk in 2012 in Avengers Endgame

Although not seen on-screen prior to Doctor Strange, Stephen Strange worked as an expert in his field throughout the entire history of the MCU. 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier revealed that Strange was one of HYDRA’s targets for Project Insight, suggesting his work in neurosurgery may have, somehow, posed a threat to HYDRA. During Avengers: Endgame’s Time Heist, Bruce Banner’s Smart Hulk met the Ancient One in 2012 during the Battle of New York, who revealed that Strange was performing surgery in the city while the Avengers were fighting Loki, reinforcing his dedication to his job.

14 Doctor Strange’s Accident Ends His Medical Career (2016)

Doctor Strange (2016)

Doctor Strange after his car accident in Doctor Strange

In 2016, after successfully performing an operation and saving another patient who’d been shot, Strange prepared himself to speak at an American Neurological Association dinner. On the drive there, Strange canvassed three prospective new patients, but ended up crashing his car while distracted from the road. Although his life had been saved in surgery that lasted eleven hours, Strange’s hands suffered permanent nerve damage, making it impossible for him to continue his surgical career. Strange searched for a cure, and began physical therapy, but was met with several dead ends.

13 Doctor Strange Travels To Kamar-Taj & Meets The Ancient One (2016)

Doctor Strange (2016)

Strange was recommended to travel to Kamar-Taj by paraplegic Jonathan Pangborn, who used magic to enable himself to walk. Journeying to Kathmandu, Strange eventually found Kamar-Taj and met Baron Mordo and the Ancient One, with the latter opening his eyes to the true magnitude of the universe and its energies. Strange began training in the Mystic Arts, not only regaining some use of his hands in the process, but also learning about the Time Stone and other dimensions. During this time, Strange built a close friendship with Wong, Kamar-Taj’s librarian, who would later become Sorcerer Supreme.

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Every Type Of Magic In The MCU & Which Is Most Powerful

Several different types of magic exist in the world of the MCU. Here’s what they all are, and which one of them is considered the most powerful.

12 Doctor Strange Battles Kaecilius & Dormammu With The Time Stone (2017)

Doctor Strange (2016)

While still studying at Kamar-Taj, Strange found himself in New York’s Sanctum Sanctorum, where he witnessed Kaecilius, an agent of the Dark Dimension’s ruler, Dormammu, murdering the Sanctum’s Master, Daniel Drumm. Strange fought Kaecilius and his zealots on several occasions, though managed to outsmart them with the help of the Cloak of Levitation and the Ancient One. Following the Ancient One’s death, Strange used the Time Stone to reverse damage Kaecilius had done in Hong Kong, before meeting Dormammu and trapping the entity in a loop until Kaecilius was taken from the Earth.

11 Doctor Strange Helps Thor & Loki Find Odin (2017)

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Thor drinking beer with Doctor Strange in Thor Ragnarok

After saving the world from the dangers of the Dark Dimension, Doctor Strange began to keep a list of potential threats to reality, which included the Asgardian God of Mischief Loki. When Thor and Loki traveled to Earth to retrieve their father, Odin, Doctor Strange intercepted them. However, upon learning that Thor and Loki would promptly return to Asgard after finding Odin, Strange decided to help their quest, pointing them in the direction of Norway. During this time, Doctor Strange also emplored Wong to teach him about the Infinity Stones.

10 Doctor Strange & Wong Battle Kalkartho (2018)

Avengers: Infinity War: The Heroes’ Journey (2018)

Wong and Doctor Strange in Kamar-Taj in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

As detailed in the Avengers: Infinity War: The Heroes’ Journey book, which acted as a prologue to Avengers: Infinity War, Strange was plagued by visions of a tentacled creature named Kalkartho attacking Earth. In an effort to stop Kalkartho’s attack, Strange and Wong opened a portal to the Magenta Dimension to use the Bonds of Baelzar, trapping the creature. They traveled to the moon in their astral forms to distract Kalkartho, but ended up fighting it back in the New York Sanctum, though Kalkartho was thankfully pulled into the Magenta Dimension, despite both Wong and Strange almost meeting their ends.

9 Doctor Strange Teams Up With Iron Man & Spider-Man To Fight Ebony Maw (2018)

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Tony Stark and Doctor Strange on the ship to Titan in Avengers Infinity War

In 2018, Bruce Banner crashed into the Sanctum Sanctorum with news of the Mad Titan Thanos’ impending attack. Doctor Strange collected Tony Stark, who Strange and Wong informed of the Infinity Stones. The heroes were soon approached by Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian, two members of Thanos’ Black Order, who attempted to steal the Time Stone. Strange was tortured aboard Ebony Maw’s ship, but Maw was blasted out into space by the combined efforts of Iron Man and Peter Parker’s Spider-Man. Together, the trio traveled to Titan, hoping to have the upper hand by bringing the fight to him.

8 Doctor Strange Battles Thanos On Titan, But Gives Up The Time Stone & Is Killed (2018)

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

After meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy on Titan, Strange looked into 14 million possible futures, but only witnessed one in which the Avengers defeated Thanos. When Thanos arrived, the heroes fought him valiantly while trying to relinquish the Infinity Gauntlet. Doctor Strange and Thanos’ battle in Infinity War was beautiful, with Strange using the Mirror Dimension, butterflies, and multiplications of himself to try and defeat the villain. However, Strange eventually gave Thanos the Time Stone in exchange for Stark’s life, which allowed Thanos to complete his quest and wipe out half the population of the universe, including Strange himself.

Related

Infinity War’s Best Fight Scene Still Hasn’t Been Beaten 5 Years Later

Avengers: Infinity War has one of the best fight scenes in the MCU thanks to Doctor Strange and Thanos, and it hasn’t been beaten yet.

7 Doctor Strange Returns For The Battle Of Earth (2023)

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Doctor Strange signaling to Tony Stark in Avengers Endgame

After the five-year-long Blip, the surviving Avengers embarked on the Time Heist to retrieve the Infinity Stones and bring back everyone Thanos had killed. They were successful, but 2014’s Thanos attacked Avengers HQ only moments later. Facing the Mad Titan and his armies would have been an impossible task for the few Avengers present, but Doctor Strange opened portals across the cosmos to allow all the returned heroes to join the fight in Endgame’s Battle of Earth. Strange revealed that Tony Stark would need to sacrifice himself, as he had foreseen, and he was later present at Stark’s funeral.

6 Doctor Strange Tries To Help Spider-Man, But Makes Everyone Forget Him Instead (2024)

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Doctor Strange returned after five years to find that Wong had become the Sorcerer Supreme in his absence. Strange’s inferiority complex perhaps drove him to make rash decisions when Peter Parker arrived in the wake of his identity being revealed, as Parker hoped to make everyone forget him. Strange botched the initial spell, instead pulling multiversal villains who knew Peter Parker’s identity into the MCU, and though Strange wanted to send them back to their deaths, Spider-Man refused. Later, Parker urged Strange to complete the spell, saving the multiverse, but making everyone forget Spider-Man’s identity in the process.

5 Doctor Strange Meets America Chavez & Battles The Scarlet Witch (2025)

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (2022)

America Chavez meeting Doctor Strange and Wong in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Shortly after his experiences with Spider-Man, Doctor Strange attended the wedding of Christine Palmer, though was interrupted during the reception by Gargantos’ attack on America Chavez, a multiversal traveler. Strange and Wong defeated Gargantos, and after learning of America Chavez’s ability, thought that she would be safe under Wanda Maximoff’s protection. However, Maximoff’s Scarlet Witch had actually been the one chasing Chavez across the multiverse, hoping to steal her power, so Strange reaching out for her help only brought the Scarlet Witch’s wrath down on Kamar-Taj, where Chavez had been given refuge.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness continued on from the ending of WandaVision, which saw the Scarlet Witch using the Darkhold to try and find her sons, Billy and Tommy Maximoff, in another reality of the multiverse.

4 America Chavez & Doctor Strange Travel To Alternate Realities (2025)

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (2022)

During battle with the Scarlet Witch, America Chavez opened a portal through the multiverse that she and Doctor Strange jumped into. The pair blasted through several different realities in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, including one inhabited by dinosaurs, one in which HYDRA won, an underwater universe, a reality made entirely of paint, and one which was animated, before finding themselves in Earth-838. There, Strange and Chavez were taken captive by the Illuminati, a team comprising the leaders of other superhero groups, but the Scarlet Witch found them, killed the Illuminati’s members and took Chavez back to Earth-616.

Earth-838’s Illuminati included Reed Richards’ Mister Fantastic, Charles Xavier’s Professor X, Maria Rambeau’s Captain Marvel, Peggy Carter’s Captain Carter, Black Bolt, and Baron Mordo, the Sorcerer Supreme.

3 Doctor Strange Experiments With The Darkhold (2025)

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (2022)

Doctor Strange with his cape of spirits in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

While the Scarlet Witch took America Chavez back home, she sent Doctor Strange and a variant of Christine Palmer to a reality ravaged by an incursion. Strange met his own variant, who had become corrupted by the Darkhold, similarly to the Scarlet Witch. After a brief skirmish, Sinister Strange was defeated, but the original Strange decided to use the Darkhold to dream-walk into the corpse of another of his variants, allowing him to help Chavez fight the Scarlet Witch in his original reality. This perversion of nature left Strange with a third eye, akin to his more evil variant.

2 Doctor Strange Causes An Incursion & Meets Clea (2025)

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (2022)

Clea and Doctor Strange with a third eye in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

At some point during the events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Doctor Strange caused an incursion, which, if left unchecked, has the potential to destroy the multiverse. Strange was given this warning, and called up to help, by Clea, a mysterious sorceress who appeared to him on the street. Clea sliced open a portal into the Dark Dimension, and the pair jumped through together, presumably to deal with Strange’s incursion. Charlize Theron played Clea in Multiverse of Madness, adapted from Doctor Strange’s love interest, and eventually wife, from Marvel Comics.

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Clea’s Existence Means Dormammu’s SISTER Can Be Doctor Strange 3’s Villain

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ post-credits scene debuted Clea in the MCU, who could open the door for an iconic Doctor Strange villain.

1 Doctor Strange Will Be Returning In Doctor Strange 3

Doctor Strange 3 (TBD)

Doctor Strange saying goodbye to America Chavez in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange 3 hasn’t yet been officially confirmed, but since Doctor Strange is playing such a pivotal role in the expansion of the MCU’s Multiverse Saga, it’s likely the trilogy-capper will release prior to, or between, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars. Recent speculation has suggested that Doctor Strange 3 may adapt Marvel Comics’ intense Time Runs Out storyline, which immediately preceded 2015’s Secret Wars event. This would make the potential sequel one of the most important Multiverse Saga projects, and allow Doctor Strange to continue to change the landscape of the MCU.

Doctor Strange 3 doesn’t yet have a scheduled release date.

Key Release Dates

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