Movie Reviews

8 Biggest Ways The MCU Has Wasted Doctor Strange So Far


  • Doctor Strange’s powerful capabilities have been underutilized in MCU movies, leaving potential wasted.
  • Doctor Strange played a crucial role in key MCU moments but was sometimes sidelined or limited in battles.
  • The MCU explored bold ideas with Doctor Strange but sometimes fell short in execution.

Doctor Strange has had some memorable appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but, in several ways, he has been somewhat wasted thus far. Doctor Strange quickly became a vital character in the MCU timeline following his introduction in Doctor Strange. Since then, Doctor Strange has appeared on numerous occasions, in scenes that often depicted his impressive, reality-warping powers. However, several other notable instances arguably wasted the incredibly powerful Marvel magician.

Doctor Strange has appeared in a total of 6 MCU movies, including Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Strange is expected to appear again in the MCU’s future, with several narratives teased by Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness that are expected to be addressed in the MCU’s Doctor Strange 3. As the Multiverse Saga unfolds, it’s likely that Strange’s mystical powers will be vital, and can hopefully appear in narratives that do not waste his potential as much.


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8 Doctor Strange’s Efforts After The Portal Scene In Endgame Are Limited At Best

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Doctor Strange was undoubtedly instrumental in the fight against Thonis in Avengers: Endgame, providing one of the franchise’s most iconic scenes ever. Doctor Strange’s portals were integral in assembling the MCU’s full range of Avengers, including the Wakanda armies and the Masters of the Mystic Arts. Strange then made a startlingly impressive entrance, wherein icy tendrils burst up through the ground to grasp Thanos’s hordes.

After this, Strange memorably signaled to Iron Man that this was indeed the only successful outcome, but he didn’t really contribute much to the fight itself. Instead, Strange was tasked with holding back an encroaching wall of water. Considering that Strange is one of the strongest Avengers present, it was quite an anticlimactic complication.

The whole wall of water scene in Endgame felt shoehorned in solely to give Strange something to do. He could have achieved a lot more and contributed to the scene in a much more dynamic manner. In subsequent movies, Strange uses his magic in captivating and interesting ways, which could have made for great visuals against Thanos’s army.

Avengers Endgame Poster

Avengers: Endgame

The penultimate chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Endgame, marks the finale of the first three phases of the MCU and acts as part two of Avengers: Infinity War. With Earth’s Mightiest Heroes failing to stop Thanos from wiping out half of all existence, the heroes discover one final chance to make things right. Journeying back through space and time, the surviving Avengers attempt to stop Thanos before all is lost.

Release Date
April 26, 2019

182 Minutes

7 Doctor Strange’s Most Famous MCU Act So Far Is Dooming Iron Man

Avengers: Infinity War & Avengers: Endgame

Doctor Strange’s most famous act in the MCU was dooming Iron Man to die in order to ensure Thanos’s defeat. However, as the franchise continues to evolve and the multiverse is explored further, this appears far less necessary. Doctor Strange famously scanned millions of universes in Avengers: Infinity War to find an outcome where Thanos was defeated.

In Endgame, it was revealed that the only possible result required Iron Man’s sacrifice, leading to the hero’s iconic death while using the Infinity Stones. However, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness included an alternate possibility where the Illuminati defeated Thanos. This countered the notion of Thanos’s “inevitability,” showing that there were indeed universes where he could be defeated without Iron Man’s sacrifice.

Of course, Strange committed this act because he believed it was the only way to save half the universe – which it certainly did. Yet as a result, Strange’s biggest legacy in the MCU so far is setting up the franchise’s figurehead to die. This is perhaps the most important deed Stephen Strange performed, and, like Thanos’s victory, increasingly feels less inevitable.

Avengers Infinity War Poster

Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War is the third Avengers movie in the game-changing Marvel Cinematic Universe. This film is positioned as the beginning of the culmination of everything that has transpired in the franchise to date. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo, who previously helmed Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War, have assembled the largest ensemble in a superhero film to date. Nearly every living character in the MCU is included as the Avengers join forces with the Guardians of the Galaxy to take down Thanos in a battle that has massive repercussions for the future of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. A sequel, Avengers: Endgame, was released in 2019 and marked the end of the Infinity Saga.

Release Date
April 27, 2018

149 minutes

6 Doctor Strange Never Used The Time Stone In The Fight Against Thanos

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Doctor Strange’s decision not to use the Time Stone while battling Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War was a curious one, particularly considering its past utility. In Doctor Strange, he successfully used the Time Stone to reverse Kaecilius’s actions, effectively demonstrating its immense power. Similarly, he employed it in an endless loop to defeat Dormammu, indicating his willingness to use it strategically in dire situations.

During the battle on Titan, Doctor Strange could have utilized the Time Stone when Star-Lord’s emotional outburst jeopardized their meticulously planned assault. By reversing time, Strange might have prevented Star-Lord from punching Thanos, thereby preserving their chances of subduing him. Additionally, employing the Time Stone to create a time loop could have allowed the heroes to repeat their efforts until they achieved victory.

Thanos himself acknowledged the peculiarity of Strange’s inaction, noting that Strange hadn’t used their “most powerful weapon.” It suggests a deliberate choice, perhaps rooted in his foreknowledge of the single successful future he witnessed among 14 million possibilities. Regardless, Strange could have at least tried something before simply relinquishing the stone to the Mad Titan.

5 Doctor Strange’s Dormammu Fight Was Cool (But Missed The Chance To Show Off His Powers)

Doctor Strange (2016)

Doctor Strange’s confrontation with Dormammu in Doctor Strange was memorable for its inventive approach but missed an opportunity to showcase the full extent of his magical prowess. In this climactic encounter, Strange cleverly traps Dormammu in a time loop, repeatedly subjecting himself to death only to reset the moment. This strategy is undeniably effective, ultimately forcing Dormammu to relent and bargain for his release.

However, this resolution sidesteps the chance to display an array of engaging magical abilities. Throughout the film, Strange is seen rapidly mastering various spells and artifacts, hinting at the vast potential of his powers. The Dormammu battle could have been the culmination of this, with an epic showcase of these abilities complete with visually stunning action sequences.

Such a display would have highlighted Strange’s growth and resourcefulness as a sorcerer, making for a more thrilling and visually spectacular climax. Instead, the repeated loop, while clever, reduced the confrontation to a test of patience rather than a battle of mystical might. Strange simply annoyed the interdimensional being into leaving. This felt anticlimactic and underutilized the character’s cinematic potential.

Doctor Strange Poster

Doctor Strange

Enter the world of Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a world-famous neurosurgeon whose car accident left him unable to use his hands. As he desperately tries to find a cure to enable his hands to perform operations again, he comes across a world that leads to another dimension. After being taught about the different dimensions and learning about the constant threat that looms on Earth, he began to embrace his role as the humble protector. Taking after the responsibilities of the Ancient One who trained him before her demise, Strange goes on to become the Sorcerer Supreme himself.

Scott Derrickson

Release Date
October 25, 2016

126 minutes

4 Doctor Strange’s Biggest Spell Is The One That Went Wrong

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Doctor Strange performed his most ambitious spell in Spider-Man: No Way Home, when he attempted to Peter Parker’s identity from everyone’s memory. Strange’s spell backfired disastrously, however, and nearly unraveled the entire multiverse. While the repeated interruptions from Peter significantly contributed to the spell’s failure, the scene still casts a shadow over Strange’s reputation as one of the most formidable sorcerers in the MCU.

The catastrophic outcome suggests that Strange, despite his extensive experience and knowledge, can be fallible and susceptible to unforeseen complications, especially under duress. Additionally, his defeat in the Mirror Dimension by Spider-Man further diminishes his standing. In the scene, Peter Parker outsmarted Strange by leveraging geometry, which ultimately felt contrived to elevate Spider-Man’s narrative at the expense of Strange’s established prowess.

These events collectively undermined Strange’s status as a master sorcerer. They depicted him as underqualified and inexperienced, curtailing his apparent trajectory to becoming the most powerful sorcerer on Earth. While this humanized Strange and added depth to his character, it simultaneously wasted his potential as one of the MCU’s most powerful magic users.

Spider-Man No Way Home Poster

Spider-Man: No Way Home

For the first time in the cinematic history of Spider-Man, our friendly neighborhood hero is unmasked and no longer able to separate his normal life from the trials and tribulations of being a superhero. In Spider-Man: No Way Home, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) asks for help from Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) when his identity becomes a problem for the ones he loves. Unfortunately, when the spell goes wrong, Spider-Man will now have to face off with villains such as Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) and Electro (Jamie Foxx) as Peter finally comes to terms that he can’t run from being Spider-Man. Supported by his close friends and help from an unexpected place (or multiverse), Spider-Man will go toe-to-toe with some of the most legendary foes in his storied history.

Jon Watts

Release Date
December 17, 2021

148 minutes

3 The MCU Still Hasn’t Included Any Of Doctor Strange’s Mental Powers

In Marvel Comics Strange Boasts An Array Of Mental Abilities

Doctor Strange’s portrayal in the MCU spotlighted his formidable command over mystic arts, yet several of his mental abilities are missing. In Marvel Comics, Strange boasts a range of mental powers, including hypnosis, telepathy, and the ability to enter others’ dreams. These could have been valuable in numerous instances and were hinted at in Multiverse of Madness’s post-credits scene when Strange’s third eye appeared.

The subdued representation of Doctor Strange’s abilities suggests a deliberate choice by the MCU to focus on more visually dynamic aspects of Strange’s powers. His battles are often characterized by impressive spells, energy blasts, and reality-bending magic. While visually spectacular, this did overshadow his subtler, yet equally significant, mental abilities.

This limitation in showcasing the full range of Strange’s powers may be a narrative choice to maintain balance among characters. However, it also meant that audiences have yet to see the true extent of Doctor Strange’s abilities, frittering away his potential somewhat. Exploring these mental powers in the future could add breadth to his mystical expertise and add new dimensions to his role within the universe.

2 Doctor Strange Took A Backseat In His Own Sequel

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (2022)

In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the titular character surprisingly takes a backseat. Instead, much of the movie focused on America Chavez and Scarlet Witch, who assumed more central roles. Despite being a sequel to Doctor Strange, much of the narrative focus shifts towards exploring America Chavez’s unique abilities and Scarlet Witch’s descent into darker paths of magic.

America Chavez, with her power to traverse the multiverse, became a pivotal character, driving the plot forward and introducing new dimensions to the story. America’s struggles and growth were prominently featured in Multiverse of Madness, sometimes surpassing Strange’s arc. Strange’s role was more supportive, guiding and protecting Chavez rather than leading the action. Similarly, Scarlet Witch’s storyline dominates much of the film.

Wanda’s transformation into a formidable antagonist commanded significant screen time and narrative weight. While Doctor Strange remains integral to the film’s narrative, his character’s exploration and growth take a backseat to the more immediate and dramatic arcs of America Chavez and Scarlet Witch. He is even ineffectual in the movie’s climax, where Scarlet Witch reconsiders her actions independently of anything Strange does himself.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Poster

Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness

In Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the MCU takes a deeper dive into the Multiverse and the unknown, introducing variants of Strange and other familiar friends and foes – including The Illuminati – and offers a new perspective on how it works and connects. The story follows Stephen Strange, now post-blip and no longer the Sorcerer Supreme. When a terrifying monster rampages through New York seeking to capture a young girl from another multiverse named America Chavez, Strange finds himself as her newfound protector. Unfortunately, his new foe is a former ally, Wanda Maximoff. To protect Chavez and stop Wanda’s rampage, Strange travels the Multiverse looking for answers – and encounters engrossing and terrifying realities that expand the Marvel Universe in a whole new way.

Release Date
May 6, 2022

126 minutes

1 Zombie Strange Was Fun But Anticlimactic

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (2022)

The concept of a zombie Doctor Strange in Multiverse of Madness was a captivating and visually striking idea. The undead sorcerer’s macabre appearance and spectral abilities proffered a thrilling and unconventional twist that showcased director Sam Raimi’s horror mastery. Zombie Strange had an incredibly memorable entrance in what seemed like the movie’s final fight.

However, the execution of this concept ultimately felt anticlimactic. After making a grand and memorable entrance with impressive visuals, the zombie Doctor Strange’s impact on the plot was disappointingly minimal. He was swiftly overpowered and rendered ineffective by Scarlet Witch, reducing what could have been a climactic showdown to mere seconds.

Instead, Wanda was defeated by her own deeds, curtailing Strange’s impact on the narrative even further. Zombie Strange became indicative of his role throughout the sequel, giving the character a great potential narrative, and then focusing almost entirely on America and Wanda. While this scene reflected the film’s willingness to explore bold ideas, it also highlighted missed opportunities in depicting Doctor Strange and his fantastic abilities throughout the MCU.

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