Is Doctor Strange’s Dark Side Too Dark For The MCU?

Explore the intricate layers of Doctor Strange’s psyche and the controversial exploration of his dark side in the MCU.

By Amitabh Mukherji
September 22,2023
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In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, superheroes often grapple with their own inner demons while battling external threats. Benedict Cumberbatch‘s portrayal of Doctor Strange is no exception, as director Sam Raimi delves into the character’s “dark side” in the 2022 blockbuster, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” This article explores the intricate layers of Stephen Strange’s psyche and the implications of his internal conflict for the future of the MCU.

The Complex Character Of Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange

Doctor Stephen Strange, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, has always been a character with depth and complexity. In “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” director Sam Raimi takes the opportunity to delve even deeper into the psyche of this iconic sorcerer. Raimi’s background in horror filmmaking lends itself perfectly to unraveling the darker aspects of Strange’s character.

A Hero With Psychological Struggles

Doctor Strange

Raimi acknowledges that Doctor Strange is, at his core, a good person. However, he is far from perfect. The character grapples with his own psychological problems, which add layers of imperfection and relatability to his persona. Strange can be selfish, arrogant, and prideful, qualities that prevent him from being a flawless, traditional hero. Raimi notes that this inner turmoil is what makes Doctor Strange so compelling:

“He sometimes can be a little selfish, a little arrogant, proud. And this prevents him from being some flawless good guy. He wrestles with his dark side, and he delves into the supernatural in a way that some other magicians who are fighting for good think is immoral.”

This internal conflict creates a rich character arc, as Strange battles not only external threats but also his own inner demons. It is this war within himself that Raimi believes makes Doctor Strange exceptionally relatable, despite his extraordinary abilities:

“Therein lies a great conflict with the character. I find him to be a character at war with himself, which we all are. And so he’s very relatable in that way, even though he’s a superhero.”

Isolation And Misery: Doctor Strange’s Starting Point

Doctor Strange (2016)

Raimi’s portrayal of Doctor Strange in “Multiverse of Madness” paints a picture of a hero who is isolated and, in some ways, miserable. The consequences of his arrogance and devotion to his craft have distanced him from the people he loves. The director elaborates on Strange’s initial state:

“So I think that he’s lonely and a little upset and has not yet come to terms with those things that have put him aside from the ones he loves, such as his arrogance. I think it’s isolated him and made him a little bit miserable.”

As the film begins, viewers find Doctor Strange at a crossroads, dealing with the repercussions of his choices and personal flaws. This emotional state sets the stage for a character journey that promises to be transformative.

The Path Forward For Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange 2
Doctor Strange

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” concluded with the titular hero embarking on a mysterious journey alongside Clea, portrayed by Charlize Theron. This open-ended conclusion leaves fans wondering where Doctor Strange’s path will lead next. What remains intriguing is whether the darkness hinted at by Sam Raimi will continue to be a central element in the character’s future.

Embracing The Darkness

Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

Writer Michael Waldron has suggested that one of the central themes of “Multiverse of Madness” was “embracing the darkness.” This theme, it appears, was not only a creative choice but possibly an intentional direction from Marvel Studios. The decision to focus on this darker aspect of Doctor Strange’s character may signal a long-term commitment to exploring his internal struggles.

The Continuing Evolution Of Doctor Strange

Top 10 Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

While Marvel Studios has not officially confirmed “Doctor Strange 3,” it is reasonable to assume that the hero’s “dark side” will remain a prominent theme in his narrative. The MCU thrives on character development and exploring the complexities of its heroes. Doctor Strange’s internal conflict adds a layer of depth that is sure to be further explored in future films.

In conclusion, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange is a character who embodies the classic struggle between light and darkness, not just in his battles against mystical foes but within himself. Sam Raimi’s take on the character in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” highlights the hero’s flaws, making him all the more relatable and compelling. As the MCU continues to evolve, it is certain that Doctor Strange’s dark side will remain a central aspect of his journey, ensuring that his character remains multi-dimensional and emotionally resonant.