Doctor Strange’s Biggest Iron Man Difference Is Actually Bad For The MCU

The mystical Doctor Strange shares many similarities with Iron Man, but the biggest difference between the two characters is actually a problem for the MCU – and Phase 4 proves it. Since Stephen Strange’s first appearance in the MCU, it has been impossible not to notice the similarities between the character and Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, both in terms of personality and role in the Marvel universe. With Iron Man dead after sacrificing himself in Avengers: Endgame, there is now a vacuum in the MCU regarding who the new face of the franchise will be, and Doctor Strange is one strong contender.

Doctor Strange, the first Doctor Strange film in the MCU, follows a structure very similar to that of Iron Man. Strange is portrayed as an egocentric, often selfish person who, despite being a doctor, was more interested in being the best in his field than in necessarily saving lives. Similar to what happened with Tony Stark after being kidnapped, the accident that cost Stephen Strange’s career also put him on a path of self-discovery and redemption, leading to the birth of the sorcerer Doctor Strange.

The journey from a narcissist to one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the strong personality, the cutting sense of humor, and the popularity of the actor who plays the character are all some of the key similarities between Doctor Strange and Iron Man. However, one major difference is that, so far, Strange is being treated more as a plot device than as a true character. While Tony Stark had a lot of screen time in the MCU, including in a Spider-Man film and a Captain America film, each of his appearances evolved the character in some way. However, for Doctor Strange, it has been the other way around – the character is being used to advance the plot. The Avengers: Infinity War’s long-term plan to defeat Thanos, the Spider-Man: No Way Home’s memory spell, and the setup of incursions in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness all had crucial importance to the MCU, and yet those did nothing to evolve Doctor Strange as a character.

Why The MCU Needs To Change How It Treats Doctor Strange

For comparison, Iron Man’s role in Captain America: Civil War served to show how much the events of The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron had changed the way Tony Stark perceived the matter of superheroes dealing with national security, while Strange’s role in No Way Home was limited to performing the memory spell. If Marvel wants Doctor Strange to take on the role of Iron Man in the MCU, then the character should be treated with the same dept as Tony Stark did. That is not to say Doctor Strange cannot continue to be important to the MCU’s Phase 4 plan, especially now that incursions and the multiverse are set to be the next major saga, only that those lore-heavy storylines should be followed by a solid character arc. Strange’s happiness and fears were discussed in Doctor Strange 2, but only on a superficial level.

What made Iron Man so special in the MCU was not his role in major events like the Battle of New York and the final fight against Thanos, but rather how well developed the character was over the course of ten years. Doctor Strange has been part of the franchise for more than six years, and yet he’s still far from being as well developed as Iron Man. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Doctor Strange 3 to happen, and if the film, unlike Strange’s role in Phase 4, will focus more on the character than on the plot.

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