In his Disney+ series, Loki learned the lesson that Doctor Strange in Marvel’s ‘What If…?’ couldn’t. In Loki season 1, the audience witnessed, the Time Variance Authority’s power over time. This allowed them to place Loki in an unending time loop of traumatic memory. This was a result of a prank when Loki chopped off a portion of Lady Sif’s hair while she was sleeping. Afterwards, Sif hunted out Loki and beat him in vengeance. In addition, Sif also announced that he would remain alone.
Doctor Strange was similarly exposed to a time loop in episode 4 of ‘What If…?’, albeit under more tragic circumstances. The MCU included “fixed spots” in time to further complicate the laws of the universe and time travel. As a result, Strange was unable to turn back time and save Dr. Palmer from her death. Strange continually looped the clock to watch Christine. However, unlike Loki, he never learned from his mistakes.
Both Loki and Doctor Strange were trapped in time loops that tortured them with a tragic memory. Meanwhile, Loki emerged from the ordeal a better version of himself, while Doctor Strange emerged a worse version of himself. However, after encountering a furious Sif on several occasions, Loki changed his mind about the incident. Eventually, Loki bowed his head and asked Sif’s forgiveness, acknowledging that he had done nothing to deserve it. This time in ‘What if…?’, Strange refused to learn from his past mistakes and persisted in his quest for perfection in the face of insurmountable obstacles. A world-ending event arose from his intransigence.
However, only one of Loki and Doctor Strange is actually arrogant. It’s clear from Loki’s character arc in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and its abbreviated form in his Disney+ series) that he’s really simply insecure. A lot of his activities were motivated by a desire to seem in control and to be rewarded for his successes. It was Loki who confessed to Mobius that most of his demeanor is really a facade to mask his fear. But unlike Loki, Strange does not feel the pressure of proving himself in the same way that the God of Mischief does. When it comes to saving Christine, he’s sure of his abilities, but he can’t accept that he can’t.
One other difference between the two is the degree to which they are able to influence the time loops. Also, Loki’s time loop was a TVA jail cell. Loki couldn’t escape the loop because magic doesn’t function there, so he had no choice but to suffer it indefinitely. However, Doctor Strange was in control of his. It’s possible that Strange could have terminated the loop at any time if he’d wished, but he didn’t. Constantly reliving this scene in his mind may well have fueled his despair and ultimately led to the collapse of civilization. So near and yet so distant from his objective led him to desperate measures.
It was revealed in the fourth ‘What if…?’ episode that Loki learned the lesson that Doctor Strange could not. Two people were trapped in a time loop that brought back an awful memory, yet one grew from the experience. Hopefully, Doctor Strange will never again feel the need to stoop to such tactics in his future appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies.