10 Essential Rules About Magic In The MCU That Every Doctor Strange Fan Should Know

Tickets just went on sale for the highly-anticipated Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and fans cannot wait for another magical Marvel adventure.  Magic is featured in many movie franchises, but magic in the MCU is very specific and relatively new to Marvel movie fans.

Related: 10 Clues From WandaVision That Set Up Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness

That's because the MCU thus far has relied heavily on science and science fiction for its fantastical elements.  From Iron Man to Captain America, to even Nebula of The Guardians of the Galaxy, superpowers and strength have largely been attributed to scientific advancements.  Fortunately, the first Doctor Strange film laid out the rules of MCU magic so viewers won't get lost.

Stephen Strange was not born with magical powers but did grow up with a photographic memory. This enabled him to read voraciously enough to earn his MD and Ph.D. simultaneously, and ultimately become a world-famous neurosurgeon.

This particular talent is how Strange eventually becomes the Sorcerer Supreme.  Upon meeting the Ancient One, she confirms that magical powers are earned the same way he became a surgeon: through years of study and practice. Agatha Harkness in WandaVision echoes this path to magical powers, as she spent centuries learning her own spells.

The MCU has, thus far, existed mostly in a single universe, but between Loki, Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and, most recently, Spiderman: No Way Home, fans have seen a few glimpses of the infinite worlds without end.  According to the Ancient One, sorcerers can draw energy from other dimensions to conjure weapons, shields, and all sorts of magic.

There is one dimension, in particular known as the Dark Dimension, that especially poses problems if drawn upon.  Its main occupant and conqueror, Dormammu, intends to usurp the Earth and those who draw power from the Dark Dimension risk becoming corrupted into doing his bidding.

There are some forms of magic that cannot be sustained by normal means, so sorcerers imbue certain objects with it instead.  That way, the objects carry the burden and stress of the especially powerful spells and are referred to as "relics."

The original Doctor Strange film features many of them, like the Staff of the Living Tribunal, the Eye of Agamotto, and the Cloak of Levitation.  Another essential magical object is the sling ring, which sorcerers use to cast portals. It's important to note that aside from sling rings, sorcerers don't choose their relics, the relics choose the sorcerer.

Not all magical objects are available to the sorcerers who want to use them, which is a cause of many conflicts in the magical community and sometimes even splinters them into different sects. There is even an entire section of the library at Kamar-Taj that is only for use by the Sorcerer Supreme.

Kaecilius, one of the most powerful villains of 2016's Doctor Strange, opened the film by stealing pages from a forbidden text, thus setting the dramatic stakes of the movie.  He is not the only magic user who has violated these rules, as Doctor Strange's first use of the Eye of Agamotto was forbidden at the time.  In the new film, fans may see similar consequences for Wanda's use of the Darkhold.

The path to mastering the mystic arts is a long one that requires forgetting everything a person thinks they know and setting aside their ego.  But some, like Doctor Strange and Wanda Maximoff, are either so naturally talented or powerful that they sometimes skip steps.

Related: Agatha Harkness’ 10 Witchiest Acts Too Evil For TV

Even Agatha Harkness found herself tied to a stake by her own coven for learning and practicing magic that was above her apparent station.  The precedent is set for magic users to be punished for overstepping their apparent abilities, and so Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is likely to feature some sort of backlash for such infractions.

These are large, magical structures built by the "father" of the mystic arts, the original Sorcerer Supreme Agamotto.  There are three, each residing on powerful sites throughout the world, where important cities grew around them; Hong Kong, London, and New York City.

The sanctums form a shield around the world that protects against multiversal threats such as the aforementioned Dormammu and house many relics and the sorcerers themselves.  The sanctums and Kamar-Taj all have portals to each other, providing Doctor Strange a very quick route from Nepal to Bleeker Street.

Whereas the Avengers typically protect the Earth against physical villains, the sorcerers of Kamar-Taj live to defend and protect the Sanctums, thus maintaining the protective shield they form around Earth.

While Doctor Strange is largely associated with the New York City Sanctum - it's where Bruce Banner crashed and Wong explained the Infinity Stones to Tony Stark in Avengers: Infinity War - the promotional material for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness shows many sorcerers defending Kamar-Taj, possibly from other-dimensional beings.

Doctor Strange introduced many magical dimensions and how to get there.  The Ancient One frequently uses the Mirror Dimension, a parallel universe wherein actions do not affect the "real world," and sorcerers can surveil and train.  But don't get stuck in there without a sling ring, as fans saw Peter Parker trap Strange in Spiderman: No Way Home.

Similarly, the Astral Dimension is one where souls exist apart from the body, typically requiring the body to be unconscious.  However, WandaVision fans will note that in the post-credit scene in the series finale, Wanda is seen physically and astrally conscious, raising a lot of eyebrows and concerns about the implications. Finally, the sling rings themselves can be used to create portals to these, and more, locations, requiring the magic user to visualize their desired location.

Stephen Strange ruffled some feathers at Kamar-Taj with his exceptional intelligence and stubbornly questioning nearly all of the teachings.  But by far, the worst offense he committed was jumping to practice magic that was deemed above his abilities and that interfered with "Natural Law."

Related: Who Would Win? Iron Man Vs Dr. Strange, Based On Intelligence

This was when Strange first opened the Eye of Agamotto and used the Time Stone without permission or supervision.  Both Mordo and Wong were quick on the scene, immediately halting Strange's experiment.  They both made it abundantly clear, to the audience, perhaps not to Strange, the drastic and dangerous consequences of meddling with such universal elements as time itself.

Time was heavily featured as a theme in the first Doctor Strange film, and for his character in the rest of the MCU.  From Strange's obsession with his own watch to silencing the ticking of a watch during surgery, and even Strange's use of the Time Stone itself to defeat Dormammu show his repeated attempts and failures to truly control time.

This speaks to themes of control and the fear of death, as Strange shows in his What If..? episode.  It also foreshadows the manipulation of timelines via multiversal antics in Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,  similar to the plot points in the Loki series.

Next: Which MCU Cast Member Best Handled The Heat On Hot Ones?



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