Marvel is having a great run with its What If…? animated show. In the newest episode of the series, viewers got to see a universe where Doctor Strange is obsessed with power and as a result, he brings devastation and destruction to the world.
The first 3 episodes What If…? were mainly focused on smaller changes like the death of some major characters or swapping out characters. But episode 4 asked some big questions about the MCU and the Sorcerer Supreme. It showed a starker alternate world and revealed how universes can be fully destroyed.
It can’t be denied that Doctor Strange is a powerful character in the MCU. But the limits of his magical powers have not been fully explored or tested right now. In episode 4 of What If…? Strange’s car accident doesn’t hurt his hand. It instead hurts his heart. So his love Christine Palmer ends up dying.
This tragedy sets him on a quest to save her. Thus, leading to hardcore studying for centuries. Also, he absorbs the powers of mystical creatures to store enough strength to turn back time. Since Christine’s death is an absolute point in this alternate timeline, so Strange requires pretty much godlike strength to bring her back.
But when he finally gains that ability, the universe breaks apart and gets unmade. Right now, the multiverse of the MCU is largely unexplored, and episode 4 of What If…? ends up adding another detail that strengthens the lore. This episode also explores new locations that will be familiar to Marvel comic readers.
Most importantly, it plays with the limits of Strange’s magical powers. However, it doesn’t give all the answers to the questions viewers will have. So here we will discuss the big 7 unanswered What If…? questions.
Here are the biggest unanswered questions from Marvel’s What If…? episode 4.
Doctor Strange tries and fails countless times to go back in time and save Christine’s life. After this, the Ancient One informs Strange that he can’t get her back. This is because Christine’s death is an absolute point. This is a major moment in the timeline that is so critically important to the progression of the universe that it can’t be changed.
She warns Strange that even if he got the powers to undo an absolute point, it would shake the core of the universe, and reality itself would collapse. And that’s exactly what happens in the end. But this doesn’t explain how these absolute points actually work.
Also, how do the absolute points even get selected? Not to mention that since Christine lives in the main MCU timeline, so this means that absolute points differ from one universe to the other. Now, the way What If…? explains it, makes it seem like the absolute points form the basic frame of the timeline.
So basically, there are some moments and incidences that are so concrete that the universe fluctuates and molds all around them. Basically, without these, the entire timeline would collapse. And it would take the entire universe down with it.
But this still doesn’t comprehensively explain how these absolute points are even determined in various timelines. Also, it doesn’t explain how many there are or why one can’t change them.
Doctor Strange stays in the Sanctum Sanctorum and acts as the primary line of defense for the world. But the MCU hasn’t mentioned or confirmed if Doctor Strange is, in fact, the Sorcerer Supreme in episode 4 of What If…?, he is addressed with that title.
Since Strange’s overall journey (before his obsession) mirrors the one of the Strange in the main MCU timeline, so it’s pretty reasonable to assume that he is the Sorcerer Supreme in the primary timeline as well. But obviously, it hasn’t been officially confirmed till now.
At the end of What If…? episode 4, we find out that the Ancient One revealed the fact that she split Doctor Strange into two. She did it in an attempt to stop him from destroying the universe. The Ancient One says that she used dark magic to split him into two timelines that coexist in the very same universe.
As per the rules of the MCU multiverse established in Loki, this sounds like it should have been impossible. But the invocation of dark and powerful magic makes this possible.
Still, the Ancient One’s powerful display isn’t explained, and it’s also not clear what kind of repercussions would such a split have long-term. A bit more explanation would have been welcome.
In his quest to be powerful enough to turn back time, Doctor Strange travels to the Lost Library of Cagliostro. It is an ancient place that’s filled up with knowledge of mystic arts. Strange trains and studies there for centuries. He only leaves after he gains the power to reverse the absolute point.
The library is there in Marvel comics, and as such, this means that we could see it in the main MCU timeline later on as well. After all, Cagliostro and the Darkhold are associated in the comics.
So it’s possible that Doctor Strange and the Scarlet Witch could try to find out the location of the library in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
They might do it to understand the multiverse as well as to journey through the Dark Dimension. Now that will be interesting!
We saw in the episode that after centuries of absorbing the monsters and studying the hidden secrets of Cagliostro, the evil version of Doctor Strange finally becomes strong enough to turn back an absolute point.
As a result of this, the entire fabric of the universe very quickly starts to crumble. He fails to save Christine till he reabsorbs his other split self. But before that even happens, the universe begins to collapse.
So the question is- what is the trigger for the apocalypse? Is it just the existence of a being who can undo the absolute point? Or is it the undoing of the absolute point itself? It’s clear right now that Strange’s mission isn’t one that his universe will be able to sustain.
But it’s explained why that is. Having this clarity would have helped set the rules of the multiverse clearly. However, the specifics of it all remain a mystery till now.
At the end of episode 4 of What If…? we saw Doctor Strange speaking to the Watcher. He was begging him to save the universe from his own mistakes and arrogance. The Watcher denied this request and declared that he isn’t a god. And neither is the Sorcerer Supreme.
Thus far, the Watcher has lived up to his name. So no one knows what kind of power he has, and what are the actual limits of it. As such, the question remains- could he have undone the damage caused by Doctor Strange? And if he could have undone Strange’s actions, how would that have affected the multiverse?
Whenever there are discussions about the most powerful MCU characters, then only a small handful of names pop up. Captain Marvel, Thanos, Thor, Scarlet Witch, and a few others that fans love to include in such lists.
Of course Doctor Strange is also generally a part of such lists, but episode 4 of What If…? has solidified his position in that club. His capacity for improvement and growth in his magical abilities seems to be getting nearly unmatched. And the deadly cataclysm he creates is the most catastrophic one we have seen in the MCU to date.
Now, it’s certainly possible that other magical practitioners like the Scarlet Witch could do similar levels of damage. After all, WandaVision gave fans a glimpse into how powerful Wanda could be if she got the time to train and study as well.
However, right now, it seems like the other magic practitioners might not be able to overpower Doctor Strange. After all, the title of the Sorcerer Supreme carries a lot of weight to it, and Marvel’s What If…? episode 4 clearly shows why Doctor Strange is worthy of having it.
Hopefully, he can wield it carefully in the main MCU timeline. After all, his debacle in the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer has raised some serious questions against the powerful doctor.