- Doctor Strange’s experience of the “curse of knowledge” is arguably worse than both Tony Stark and Thanos. He saw millions of timelines and the deaths of trillions of inhabitants, unable to intervene.
- Strange alone carries the burden of this knowledge, as he kept the fates of alternate universes to himself, never disclosing them to the other Avengers.
- The consequences of Strange’s intervention include incursions and the erosion of barriers between realities, leading to the elimination of universes. He now understands that there is nothing he can do to save lives, emphasizing the weight of his quote: “In the grand calculus of the multiverse, their sacrifice means infinitely more than their lives.”
Doctor Strange has been through many traumatic experiences in the MCU, but there is one less-considered aspect of his arc that means he endures a much worse version of Thanos’ “curse” laid out in Avengers: Infinity War. Doctor Strange and Thanos’ interactions on Titan were a chance for Thanos to detail his motives before the epic Battle of Titan ensued. During that fight, as Thanos fought Tony, Thanos revealed his familiarity with Stark and that they shared a commonality: being “cursed with knowledge.” Thanos saw Tony as an equal at this moment, while belittling Doctor Strange’s powers as the “tricks” of a wizard, seemingly unaware of Strange’s similar burden.
Doctor Strange has proven multiple times that he is one of the strongest superheroes in the MCU. Still, his abilities being overpowered by Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet was a chance to show just how threatening the Mad Titan had become. While Strange pulled off some mystic moves capable of overcoming the power of the Power Stone, albeit briefly, their brief interactions skirted over the fact that Strange was also subject to that same curse. Not only that, but Strange’s experience of the “curse of knowledge” is arguably far worse than that of both Tony and Thanos.
Thanos’ Curse Of Knowledge Explained
The Battle of Titan reveals much of Thanos’ MCU backstory in a short dialogue when he regales Strange about the history of Titan and its inhabitants, which ended in their extinction due to overpopulation. His solution, to stave off the extinction that he could see coming, was to kill half of Titan’s population in a way that was both random and dispassionate. These were the same motivations that formed his arc in the Infinity Saga, with his goal being to save the universe from the same fate as Titan by carrying out the designs that saw him branded a “madman” on his home world.
Thanos being proven right when not allowed to intervene is precisely the curse of knowledge that he refers to. His knowledge was a tragically vindicated prediction and one that he felt no pleasure in. Tony’s curse was similar, predicting that his home world would befall a similar fate unless he intervened. This fueled Tony’s attempts to create a “suit of armor around the world,” which is in stark contrast to Thanos’ more extreme solution, thereby creating Ultron and ironically dooming Earth instead. Both predicted the doom of their planets if they did not somehow intervene. Doctor Strange, meanwhile, is cursed with that same knowledge millions of times over.
Tony’s “suit of armor” plan came as a direct response to the Chitauri invasion, hoping that his AI would protect Earth from large-scale threats.
Doctor Strange’s Curse In Infinity War Is Worse Than Iron Man’s
Moments before the Battle of Titan took place, Doctor Strange used the Time Stone to look at 14,000,605 possible timelines. Out of all of these timelines, he could see one in which Thanos’ designs did not come to pass. This means that Doctor Strange saw how millions of timelines and trillions of their inhabitants were going to die. The significant differences were that Strange knew their fates with certainty, and knew that he could not intervene thanks to the Masters of the Mystic Arts Code.
To add insult to injury, Scott Lang revealed in his book that Doctor Strange kept the fates of the alternate universes to himself, never revealing the details to any of his fellow Avengers. This means Strange alone is burdened with the curse of his knowledge, the weight of which far supersedes that of Tony and Thanos. With Tony and Thanos proving that they were incapable of letting such fates come to pass, Strange has proven the strength of his will in the face of such cataclysmic consequences.
The MCU’s Multiverse Rule Curses Doctor Strange Even More
Unbeknownst to him at the time, however, was another more tangible consequence of his intervention: incursions. In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it was revealed that messing with the fates of other universes would cause the barriers between realities to erode and result in the complete elimination of at least one of those universes. This is precisely what led to Doctor Strange’s execution at the hands of the Illuminati in Earth-838, as he used the Darkhold to search other universes for a way to defeat their universe’s Thanos.
Now that Strange has experience of incursions, however, the knowledge he harbors from using the Time Stone on Titan must weigh on him even more heavily than before. The Doctor Strange on Earth-838 brought about an incursion while attempting to do the right thing through questionable means; even going so far as to condone his execution as a necessary repercussion. Doctor Strange prime, meanwhile, now knows that there is nothing he can do to save trillions of lives no matter how much he wants it, lending more poignant air to his otherwise dispassionate quote: “In the grand calculus of the multiverse, their sacrifice means infinitely more than their lives.“