True to its title, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness continues the MCU’s Phase 4 variant trend with several different versions of Stephen Strange appearing in the movie. How many Doctor Strange variants in Multiverse of Madness are there? Though the movie focuses on five key Strange variants, it’s likely that there are just as many Doctor Strange variants as there are Loki variants in the MCU – so, an infinite amount.
The Disney+ Loki series introduced the concept of variants into the MCU with numerous different versions of the God of Mischief appearing throughout the show. Some of these variants like Classic Loki are deep-cut tributes to the comics, while others like Boastful Loki are new additions, while a unique few like Alligator Loki are there just to steal the hearts of Marvel audiences. This multiverse of countless diverged timelines and variations on iconic characters was again explored in Marvel’s What If…? series and Spider-Man: No Way Home. In turn, these earlier Marvel releases laid the foundations for the main plot and the introduction of various new characters in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which dives even deeper into the concept by introducing several pre-destined Sorcerers Supreme.
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Though the Doctor Strange 2 cast includes five Stephen Strange variants, it is never truly revealed exactly how many Doctor Strange variants in Multiverse of Madness exist – likely because the infinite variation across multiple realities means that the precise number is incalculable. However, what’s truly important is that just as the near-infinite variants of Loki reflect the God of Mischief’s limitless adaptability and indecisiveness, so do the five Sorcerers Supreme represent the distinct paths that Stephen can take. Narratively, each significant Stephen Strange variant touches on key aspects of his true nature – from his potential to become the multiverse’s greatest hero and Sorcerer Supreme to his childish handling of near-infinite power and the danger he poses as a walking, talking, wise-cracking, Eternals-level threat. Here’s everything that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness reveals about each variant and Stephen’s future in Doctor Strange 3.
Stephen Strange (Earth-616)
No matter how many Doctor Strange variants in Multiverse of Madness actually exist, there is only one Earth-616/Earth-19999 Stephen Strange, a misguided genius who – believe it or not – is the Strange variant who represents wisdom. The only Avenger on the list, the MCU’s original Doctor Strange was crucial in stopping Thanos, Dormammu, and the Scarlet Witch, whose actions threatened not just the Earth but the entire multiverse. Though he is no longer armed with the Time Stone, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness sees Stephen’s spellcasting abilities increase tenfold, a by-product of his duty as the keeper of the Sanctum Sanctorum. After using the Darkhold to dreamwalk into the corpse of Defender Strange and how he seems to be using the now-empty Eye of Agamotto to store Wanda’s Chaos Magic, Stephen gets a third eye, which is actually the most significant of the various Doctor Strange 2 easter eggs in terms of Stephen’s future.
In Marvel Comics, Doctor Strange’s third eye develops as a result of his repeated use of the all-seeing Eye of Agamotto, and it allows him to see the future. This is why, during the post-credits scene of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Strange wasn’t surprised by the sudden appearance of Clea and was ready to accompany her at a moment’s notice. The third eye might even allow Stephen to determine not just exactly how many Doctor Strange variants exist in Multiverse of Madness but also see their intentions and potential to cause incursions. Despite his faults, what’s clear is that in the MCU, Earth-616/Earth-199999 Doctor Strange represents balance and wisdom. Stephen exists as an argument for how power itself is neither inherently good nor evil, and that morality is instead measured by how infinite knowledge and power are applied. America Chavez’s powers, which Stephen now has full access to after he gained America’s trust, will further test the mettle of his wisdom.
Strange Supreme (Earth-838)
Strange Supreme, also known as Earth-838 Strange, is the variant executed by Black Bolt for killing Thanos using the Darkhold and becoming an even bigger threat to the multiverse himself. Strange Supreme nobly accepts his death, but before that, he was perfectly happy to risk universe-ending incursions for the “greater good.” How many Doctor Strange variants in Multiverse of Madness are there, really? Only Strange Supreme might know the precise answer. As revealed in Christine’s stories about this variant, Strange Supreme is a warning about how even infinite knowledge is not always enough to prevent the misuse of infinite power. Unlike Earth-616 Stephen, who had enough faith in his fellow Avengers to know that the best option was to hand Thanos the Time Stone, Strange Supreme was killed by Doctor Strange 2’s Illuminati ultimately because he believed that amassing power unimaginable even to Thanos would be the most efficient way to stop the Mad Titan. Given the chance, Strange Supreme would have simply obliterated Scarlet Witch – along with everything else in existence.
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Though Sinister Strange shares similarities with the power-hungry Strange variant in What If…?, Sinister Strange is a new variant that demonstrates the dangers of the Darkhold. Living alone in a universe that was destroyed by an incursion, Sinister Strange exhibits exotic mastery of the mystic arts, particularly in the musical duel with Earth-616 Strange and the fact that he already has a third eye. Rivaling the insanity of Wanda’s quest to steal her own kids from an alternate reality, Sinister Strange tells Earth-616 Strange that he can use the Darkhold if he can have his Christine. However, he is shortly defeated by Earth-616 Strange, revealing Sinister Strange’s inexperience. While John Krasinski’s Mister Fantastic certainly deserved more screen time, Sinister Strange’s short-lived scenes were well-deserved and so was his unceremonious and brutal death. This variant represents Stephen’s worst qualities – his selfishness, overconfidence, his unhealthy obsession with Christine, and most importantly, Stephen’s alarmingly high capacity to misuse his power. In the end, Sinister Strange was just a way for Earth-616 Strange to access the Darkhold and create what might be Sam Raimi’s greatest twist on the character: Zombie Strange/Defender Strange.
Defender Strange/Zombie Strange
Defender Strange was the first variant shown in Multiverse of Madness, the one accompanied by America Chavez in his search for the Book of Vishanti in the space between universes. Though Defender Strange seeks the Book of Vishanti for use against the Darkhold and the Scarlet Witch, he also doesn’t hesitate to try and absorb America Chavez’s powers and kill her when she almost gets absorbed by a demon sent by Wanda. However, like Doctor Strange 2’s Professor X, Defender Strange falls to Wanda’s superior Chaos Magic and brutally dies. This prompts America to open a portal and transport herself and Defender Strange’s corpse to the relative safety of Earth-616.
Later, after Earth-616 Strange defeats Sinister Strange, he uses the Darkhold to dreamwalk and possesses the body of Defender Strange that he buried earlier inside a rooftop on Earth-616, giving rise to Zombie Strange. Channeling his spirit from Sinister Strange’s destroyed universe, Stephen rejoins the battle at Mount Wundagore right before Wanda can complete the ritual to consume America Chavez’s powers, and Zombie Strange turns the tide in Wong and the Kamar-Taj’s last stand against Wanda. More importantly, it is Zombie Strange who talks to America and allows her to realize her full potential, proving once and for all that the Avengers can still kick some ass, and leading to the eventual defeat of the Scarlet Witch in the Doctor Strange 2 ending.
Defender Strange/Zombie Strange represents Stephen’s evolution throughout his MCU appearances. From being a highly capable and well-meaning but ultimately selfish and misguided genius, Stephen has come a long way to become the stalwart Avenger that he is in Phase 4. Even as Stephen uses forbidden magic to discover his own natural command over the spirits of the dead, he is able to resist his inherent hubris and simply trust in what he has known all along – not only is America Chavez in full control of her powers, she already knows exactly what to do to stop Wanda. Zombie Strange is proof positive that Stephen will literally crawl out of his grave to save the multiverse. Now irrevocably bound to the Darkhold, this is when Stephen gains his third eye, which is how he knew exactly what to do. Though this ends in Scarlet Witch’s death, it also gives rise to potentially the most powerful Young Avenger in America Chavez, who is last seen training at Kamar-Taj with Strange and Wong.
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Is Clea A Doctor Strange Variant?
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, in its post-credits scene, also introduces Charlize Theron into the MCU as Clea, who in her solo comics series Strange becomes the Sorcerer Supreme after Stephen’s death. It’s unclear whether or not Clea is a variant of Doctor Strange. However, she is also known as the Sorceress Supreme or the Mistress of the Dark Dimension and was also Stephen’s prize pupil – just like Stephen was to the Ancient One before she died. Clea is also the niece of Dormammu. There’s not much else that’s revealed about Clea during her short appearance in the Doctor Strange 2 post-credits scene, but there’s a possibility that her next MCU Phase 4 appearance will reveal that she’s actually another Sorcerer Supreme variant from an alternate universe. Clea is the variant that challenges the rules of MCU’s multiverse because although there are clearly various Stephens across realities, the multiverse might not be big enough for more than one Sorceress Supreme.
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About The Author
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A Movie and TV Features Writer for Screen Rant, Autumn Cejer has spent her life chatting about popular media to anyone who would listen. She has co-hosted a podcast and presented at several conferences analyzing the ways in which entertainment influences society and vice versa. Her research interests include the intersection of gender, sexuality, and disability in works such as the animated Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra TV series, as well as the “House of M” and “The Mighty Thor” comic books.
Autumn Cejer has a master’s degree in English literature and writing, and plans to pursue her doctorate to teach at the college level. She especially enjoys combining her love of teaching with her love of popular culture, and has previously themed her introductory composition courses on superheroes. She spends her free time drinking coffee and bingeing whatever latest TV show has caught her eye.
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