In Avengers: Infinity War, Doctor Strange inspired roughly 14,000,605 fan theories when he handed Thanos the Time Stone and led our heroes into what he claimed to be the only possible reality where they emerge victorious.
Sure enough, in the subsequent Avengers: Endgame, the Mad Titan is defeated and the Snap victims are revived, but not without some significant losses on the side of the heroes. According to a popular new fan theory conceived by Reddit user Arc_the_lad, however, the various deaths and injuries suffered by Earth’s Mightiest Heroes weren’t just a means to an end, but all part of Stephen Strange’s plan to solve several problems at once.
The theory goes that Strange identified numerous threats to the reality he was guarded to protect. One, of course, was Thanos, the genocidal villain of the Infinity Saga. Another was the Infinity Stones, which not only enabled the purple tyrant to wield god-like powers, but were also pretty hazardous individually.
More controversially, the theory suggests that Stephen also regarded Tony Stark as a threat, partly because of his tendency to create dangerous new problems like Ultron. Meanwhile, it’s speculated that Hulk, Thor and Vision were all seen as similarly powerful and unpredictable figures who needed to be taken out the picture.
From here, the theory argues that it’s no coincidence all of the above characters and objects are out of action in some way or another by the end of Endgame. While Thanos, Vision and Iron Man are all dead, the Infinity Stones (in the main reality, at least) have all been destroyed, Hulk’s suffered a potentially permanent injury and Thor is busy traveling the galaxy, meaning he’s no longer the ruler of Asgard or one of Earth’s key protectors.
According to the speculation, this leaves Strange with two loose ends: Wanda (an immensely powerful, potentially dangerous ex-villain) and Loki (who’s currently running wild in another timeline with an Infinity Stone). And what’s interesting about these two characters is that they’re both expected to appear in the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, suggesting that Stephen may have some unfinished business to resolve in his next solo outing.
Honestly, a lot of these ideas seem a little hard to buy, especially when you consider all the backlash that Marvel would inevitably get if they ever revealed Doctor Strange to be a secret villain. Still, you can at least appreciate all the work and attention that went into Arc_the_lad’s theory, which you can read in more detail via the link below.
In any case, while it’s unlikely that the writers of Avengers: Infinity War had this exact vision in mind, we’ll find out if there’s any truth to the speculation when Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on May 7th, 2021.