Doctor Strange Just Easily Defeated His Next MCU Villain

Warning: This article contains spoilers for What If...? episode 4.

Marvel's What If...? pulls off a curious move, having Doctor Strange seemingly defeat the rumored upcoming villain of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. In What If...? episode 4, the Marvel Cinematic Universe explores what it'd be like if Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) breaks bad. The episode immediately changes the events of 2016's Doctor Strange, with Strange losing Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) in his tragic car crash instead of his hands. Looking to bring her back, Strange pursues the mystic arts, and he eventually travels back in time to try to reverse her death. However, the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) warns Strange that Palmer's death is an absolute point in the timeline, and reversing it could destroy reality. To stop Stange, she splits the Sorcerer Supreme into two, allowing an evil Doctor Strange and a good version to exist in the same timeline. Unfortunately, the bad Doctor Strange wins in the end, which destroys his universe.

In Marvel's comics, Shuma-Gorath is a one-eyed, tentacled beast. The monster is rumored to appear as the main villain in the upcoming Doctor Strange 2, and the MCU already teased the beast in the What If...? premiere. In the series premiere, Hydra's plans drastically change from Captain America: The First Avenger. One of the alterations involves Hydra summoning a champion from beyond the stars, which seemingly shows up as a tentacled Shuma-Gorath. Though Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell) fights the monster back through a portal, making the monster's appearance brief, the episode seemingly teases the upcoming villain.

Related: The MCU Explains Why Tony Stark Can Never Be Revived

Besides the premiere, What If...? may have included another tease for Shuma-Gorath. In episode 4, the evil version of Doctor Strange is seeking additional power to gather enough strength to reverse Palmer's death. To do so, he absorbs the powers of various mystical beasts. The first beast he encounters is seemingly Shuma-Gorath, who quickly overpowers Strange with its tentacles. However, Strange gains more power and eventually faces the beast again later. This time, he adds the monster and its tentacles to his mythical beast arsenal.

It's an interesting move to have Strange defeat his supposed upcoming villain. In one sense, it's a fun tease for Shuma-Gorath, slyly introducing the adversary to the MCU. By including the beast in episodes of What If...?, fans may be more familiar with it during its potential Doctor Strange 2 debut. However, Strange makes quick work of the beast in the episode. Though he initially gets pulverized by the monster's tentacles, Strange faces the beast again later, swiftly cutting off its tentacles and absorbing its powers. Considering Strange already defeated the monster incredibly quickly, Shuma-Gorath could wind up as a letdown in the sequel.

However, the tease may indicate Strange will face a different adversary in Doctor Strange 2. Marvel is a stickler when it comes to spoiling future films. If Shuma-Gorath is appearing in the Doctor Strange sequel, it's odd that the MCU already included the creature in the What If..? premiere and What If...? episode 4. It's even stranger that Strange defeated the beast quickly, though any future battles would likely last longer. With all this in mind, it seems Strange could face another villain in his upcoming movie. If not, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness could be an incredibly short film.

More: Doctor Strange's Spider-Man Mistake Makes Scarlet Witch Look Even More Powerful

Marvel's What If...? releases new episodes Wednesdays on Disney+.

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