Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness not only brought back Benedict Cumberbatch as the Stephen Strange we all know and love but also saw the star on triple duty as he portrayed a couple of the sorcerer’s variants, as well. In fact, the movie dropped a major revelation about the character: the Strange from Earth-616 is the only one who is incorruptible. Something the film doesn’t explain, however, is exactly why that is.
It’s up to the fans to come up with a convincing reason for Strange’s unique pure spirit, then. And this theory suggests that it’s all to do with a key lesson the Ancient One taught him before she died, one that perhaps the other Stranges did not receive. Redditor Khala77 pitched on the FanTheories subreddit that the late Sorcerer Supreme’s message that “it’s not about you” is what helps 616’s Strange remember to temper his ego, whereas his variants allow themselves to be consumed by their arrogance and personal ambition.
The theory gained a few favorable responses from fans, although someone else believes that it might actually be Wong’s influence that’s kept our Strange on the straight and narrow.
Another fan pondered if it was Strange’s viewing of all those alternate timelines in Avengers: Infinity War that did it. “He saw 14 million different outcomes of defeating Thanos and the only one where it worked was one where he barely played a role,” the user wrote, adding that maybe “the lived experience of seeing all the scenarios where it wasn’t he who saved the day played a role” in shaping him into a better hero.
Some just think we don’t need to theorize about it as it’s all there in Strange’s character arc.
Given the infinite possibilities of the multiverse, it’s pretty mind-blowing that 616’s Strange is the only good one out there, although clearly some of them remain mostly heroic but make mistakes — like Defender Strange — and not all of them are as cruel as Earth-838’s version. Although, who knows, maybe his newfound third eye will start to corrupt our Doctor Strange and he’ll go the same way as his variants.