With each episode centered around different characters in the MCU What If…? has told each of the stories within different genres beginning with a WWII war movie, then a space heist, and last week a murder mystery with a shocking twist. The newest episode of What If…? takes a look at a different version of Doctor Strange, one who is still blissfully in love with Christine although this happiness doesn’t last long as the episode quickly becomes a hopelessly tragic love story. This tragedy leads the sorcerer down a dark path with horrifying results.
The Nexus Point of this universe takes place long before the newest What If…? episode with the change being Strange and Christine never parted ways. This means that when Doctor Strange was going to the award ceremony Christine was with him and in the car crash Strange lost the love of his life instead of the use of his hands.
Doctor Strange still finds the mystic arts following the car crash and most of the first film plays out the same way, although Doctor Strange’s hands were never injured, which could mean his powers are even greater in this universe from the start. The creators were smart about what highlights from the movie to include without getting bogged down in reiterating the entire plot.
The core of this What If…? episode takes place after the events of Doctor Strange with the sorcerer using the Eye of Agamotto in desperate attempts to save Christine. The montage of Strange futilely attempting to change things and save Christine only for her to die no matter what he does is gut wrenching. The final repeat is perhaps being the saddest as Strange tells Christine she is all that he wants as he closes his eyes and waits for the inevitable crash.
DOCTOR STRANGE GOES DOWN A DARK PATH ON WHAT IF…?
Strange’s conversation with the Ancient One following these countless heart breaks is another glimpse into the laws of Marvel time travel establishing the opposite of Nexus Points, with Absolute Points. Moments that must happen and cannot be changed. In this case the paradox presented is that if Strange saves Christine he never finds the mystic arts, never defeats Dormamu, and never becomes the Sorcerer Supreme, therefore never gaining the power to save Christine. Strange’s desperation is palpable as he refuses to give up instead deciding to find a way to defeat the laws of the universe.
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This episode of What If…? also introduces a gorgeous new location with the Lost Library of Cagliostro. The Library is stunning and the magic within it, notably the runes, is absolutely gorgeous. Strange begins searching for any way to change an Absolute Point and finds his answer, absorbing the power from others. In his first attempt he asks to borrow power from a multiversal mystic being that looks suspiciously like the tentacle beast that Captain Carter fought in the premiere episode of What If…?
When this fails Strange begins summoning and absorbing an endless number of mystical creatures from the multiverse. The animation in this portion is phenomenal as Strange briefly takes on the appearance of those he absorbs. The montage speeds up the longer Strange steals the powers of the beings over the course of centuries.
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It is revealed that the Ancient One actually split the timeline when she and Strange confronted each other at the accident site. One absorbed power for centuries while the other lived out the events of the first film once again and chose not to travel back and attempt to save Christine. As the second Strange finds out the truth, he begins figuring out how to defend himself knowing he will have to take on his corrupted counterpart.
[Click on Page 2 below for even more of this mystical review!]