MCU theory might explain Doctor Strange’s strange behavior in ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’

doctor strange
Photo via Marvel

A popular fan theory might just explain why Doctor Strange comes across as “different” or “off” in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Posted to the Reddit’s Fan Theories sub, user TheMediocreCritic digs into why they feel Strange may have been acting a bit, well, strange, over the course of the recent MCU release.

Warning: This article contains minor spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home. Please proceed with caution if you have yet to see the film.

MediocreCritic begins their post by explaining that, after the blip, “everything changed.”

They expand on the small amount of fallout we’ve seen through MCU movies, digging into some of the far-reaching consequences of seeing half the population disappear for five years, only to return abruptly. They note that almost everyone lost family, friends, children, or spouses “just to have them magically appear again.” While regaining lost loved ones is certainly a wonderful thing, MediocreCritic notes that, in some instances, their reappearance would be heartbreaking. Particularly in instances in which the family has moved on.

“To [the blipped], it would’ve seemed like 5 seconds, then bam, everything in your life is different. Your kids are old, and your spouse is remarried, people you loved have passed,” they explain in the post. As they point out, the world would be thrust into a “mental health crisis” as both the blipped and those they left behind strive to adjust to their strange new world.

This sets the stage for their theory about Doctor Strange. As anyone who’s seen the films knows, Strange was blipped along with Black Panther, Spidey, and the rest. He lost five years to the blip and returned to a life he didn’t recognize.

Due to this, MediocreCritic believes that Strange plunged into a depression after returning in Endgame.

“He is responsible for saving the world and bringing back those who were snapped, but he is also responsible for Iron Man’s death,” they note. Then, to top it off, they note that not only did Strange miss out on “the job he thought he would have,” but recent trailers appear to indicate that he also lost out on Christine.

While, to Strange, he was gone for seconds, Christine had a full five years to mourn his loss and move on. Trailers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness show Christine walking down the aisle in a wedding dress, and — as MediocreCritic points out — Strange appears to be a guest.

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness
Photo via Marvel Entertainment/YouTube

“After he was snapped, she moved on and found someone and fell in love,” MediocreCritic writes. “This would be heartbreaking to anyone. Imagine if you disappeared for 5 seconds and you opened your eyes, and the love of your life was getting married to someone else.”

This, according to MediocreCritic, sets the stage for the altered behavior we saw from Strange in No Way Home and trailers for Multiverse of Madness. Dr’s Strange’s anguish over all he lost in the blip eats him up, and he finds himself in a unique position. He, more than most, can change the lot life has given him. MediocreCritic believes he will tamper with space and time in an effort to lift the weight of his depression and find a world in which he and Christine are together and, as a result, will fracture the multiverse.

Noting that “depression is a terrible condition” that “affects so many of us,” MediocreCritic points out that “it would be good to see the MCU take on a real-life issue.”

They’re certainly not wrong. Depression is on the rise around the nation, particularly as the pandemic stretches into its third year and continues to be stigmatized by many. So seeing it handled sensitively in a blockbuster film — one about superheroes, no less — could mean a lot to the people around the globe who suffer from depression.

Commenters noted this and shared their own guesses at why Strange seemed off in No Way Home. Many agreed that he is likely struggling to adjust to his new life, with one going even further to guess that Multiverse of Madness will set up “the downfall of Strange.”

User Kreegs commented with their own theory that Strange is on the path to a destructive story arc similar to Tony’s numerous mistakes during the Ultron MCU arc. They point out that, in No Way Home, the entire events of the film could have been prevented if Strange “acted like a normal adult and not some bitter guy who was overconfident in his abilities.” This, they think, was the first step toward establishing him as the new Tony, of sorts — capable and thoroughly necessary, but wielding too much power and in the wrong way.

In general, commenters seem to agree that Strange is headed down a dangerous path. Some even think the MCU is setting him up to be the franchise’s next major baddie, leaning on all he’s lost to motivate his turn toward evil.

Several episodes from Marvel’s What If…? bolster the points raised in both the comments and MediocreCritic’s original post, leading even more people to jump on the “Strange is headed toward disaster” train. The theories certainly present an intriguing possibility for Strange’s future, particularly if Marvel is brave enough to juggle mental health alongside all those epic CGI battles.

It would be a bold move by Marvel to dig so deep into a character’s psyche, but it appears the fanbase is thoroughly ready for an arc that treats mental health as a genuine factor. We won’t know for sure until Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on May 6, 2022, but the MCU might just head down a very unique path.