Spoilers for Episode 4 of Marvel’s “What If…?”. Now available to stream on Disney+.
Supreme Strange, seen here attempting to prevent the Universe’s collapse
To quickly recap the events of Episode 4: In lieu of losing the use of his hands in the dreaded car accident, Stephen Strange instead loses Christine, who was riding alongside him in the car when the accident happened. This leads Strange down a similar path of exploring the mystical arts, but with a completely different purpose in mind. Instead of regaining the use of his hands, the newly minted sorcerer, Doctor Strange, attempts to utilize the power of the Eye of Agamotto to save Christine’s life, only to soon discover obstacles at every turn preventing him from doing so. This causes Strange to turn evil, consuming the powers held by mythical beings in his quest to reverse the Absolute Point in time, inadvertently causing the destruction of the universe and receiving a terrific reprimand from The Watcher himself.
Dr. Stephen Strange, seen here attending Dr. Christine Palmer’s funeral
In what is arguably What If…?’s most bleak and engaging episode, we are treated to a glimpse of the chaos that could ensue should Doctor Strange turn evil. Aside from being a terrifically well-executed premise, the reason we consider this episode to be the best we have seen thus far is due to it being the scariest and most plausible “What If” scenario, questioning our understanding of Doctor Strange’s origins and human nature in general.
In his former life as a medical professional, Stephen Strange believed that he could fix anything and would go to extreme lengths to accomplish this goal, not simply because it saved lives but because it satisfied his ego. This then begs the question: what if Stephen Strange had pressed on in his pursuit to correct his damaged hands? Would he have stumbled down a similar path as that of Supreme Strange? Or is the loss of Christine a more potent catalyst to create this darker side? We would argue that regardless of the loss he would face, Stephen Strange could have very well turned evil and destroyed the universe had he not given up his pursuit to rectify problems.
This is to do with the understanding of human nature and our relentless need to be right. Our stubbornness to concede defeat in difficult situations, while admirable at times, could certainly get the better of us, as it did to Doctor Strange in the episode. The Sorcerer Supreme could not accept his loss, being a man who could repair anything, and thus, he would so quickly destroy the universe only to quench the thirst of his ego in knowing that he achieved in doing what he set out to do. Therefore, it would be safe to say that Supreme Strange — lives in all of us, and that is precisely why we regard this episode of What If…? as the best we have seen thus far.
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