It’s Wednesday and we all know this means it’s time for another Marvel review! Today we’re talking about What If … Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?, so continue at your own peril. Spoilers ahead!
What was it about?
Doctor Strange’s entire life changes when he loses Doctor Christine Palmer in an accident rather than his motor skills.
So, that was quite something! Maybe I will really like every other What If …? reality more than the previous one. This episode truly felt like the Marvel version of a Black Mirror story and I didn’t mind it. That obviously means that the ending was quite depressing, which probably won’t be to everyone’s liking, but if you think about it, it is also not very likely that every reality in the multiverse is a happy one. Let’s break down the events of What If … Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?
- Stephen Strange and Christine Palmer were on a date. They were goofing off, clearly having a great relationship, when the dreadful car accident happens. Instead of Stephen losing the precise motor skills in his surgeon hands, he loses Christine, the love of his life, instead.
- I thought it was interesting that his grief for her sent him on the same journey as the despair about his hands did. He traveled the world, eventually trained in the mystic arts and became the Sorcerer Supreme. However, it’s after that, where the story really changes.
- Unable to let go of the past, Stephen uses the Eye of Agamotto to travel back in time and redo his date with Christine. No matter what he tries, even if he stays away completely, she always dies though. Her death turning out to be an absolute point in time, unchangeable and irreversible.
- The Ancient One tries to warn and explain to Stephen that he is endangering the entire universe with his obsession, but they fight and he escapes to the lost library of Cagliostro. There, in the midst of all the hidden mystic knowledge, he learns that he can reverse an absolute point in time, but will need more power. This power can be absorbed from other beings. While a regular person would probably stop at the thought of consuming creatures, Doctor Strange goes on to absorb every powerful being, small or big, he can find (yes, the tentacle monster from What If … Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? makes a reappearance) for centuries.
- What this version of Doctor Strange wasn’t prepared for was the fact that his last interaction with the Ancient One led to a split timeline. All the while he got stronger, there was another half of him, who hadn’t chosen to change time, running around and still being good. This means we got a Doctor Strange vs. Doctor Strange face off.
- Where a usual Disney or happy storyline would have the good Stephen, the hero, win, this story is not that. The evil and now monstrous looking Doctor Strange cannot convince his counterpart to help him save Christine. So, instead, he even consumes himself, ultimately resurrecting Christine into a crumbling universe.
- Christine doesn’t recognize Stephen when she comes to. He looks like an amalgamation of all the monsters and creatures he consumed, having no resemblance of his former self anymore. But worst of all, his entire effort was for nothing as Christine starts to disintegrate with the rest of the universe. He had broken the fabric of his reality to the point of no return. Even begging the Watcher himself to help resulted in nothing. So, Stephen created a bubble to shield him and Christine from the destruction, but in the end, he was all alone in vast nothingness.
Something I enjoyed a lot during What If … Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands? is the fact that The Watcher was involved, albeit he did not intervene. In one of the earlier scenes, The Watcher talked to us and told us that Stephen was on the wrong path. He could intervene, but the safety of one universe was not more important than the others, while he also didn’t think that Strange would actually listen. However, Stephen did hear him and later directly talked to him. As I said last week, he seems to get more present in the storylines each week. Be it in the imagery or by actually talking with the characters now. I wonder if this will amp up even more in the future.
While I still think that the episodes deserve to be longer to make full use of the storylines and the potential emotional impact, it worked better here than with some previous ones. Once again, there were some fun visual and dialogue references to movies we know. There was a whole montage of how Stephen learned his craft and jokes about his name and hilarious moments with the cloak. At the end of all of this, I might do a personal ranking of all the What If …? episodes. Would anyone be interested in that?
PREVIOUSLY: WHAT IF …
- Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?
- T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?
- The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?