As always, there are spoilers ahead for Episode 3 of What If…? And the wider MCU. If you haven’t yet seen the episode, bookmark this post and return to it once you have.
Episode 4 of What If…? Showed us what would happen if Doctor Strange lost his heart instead of his hands. It was probably the most emotional episode so far, and as always, was full of details and references. Here’s everything of importance we noticed.
Christine says yes.
In case you need a refresher, Christine refused Stephen’s offer to attend his event in Doctor Strange. In this episode, she agrees to join him, which means she’s in the car when he crashes.
During the tragic accident, Stephen Strange’s car lands in precisely the same way it does in Doctor Strange; seeing the same shots is an excellent call back to the movie and shows the level of detail the writers have gone into for this show.
Another cool side-by-side is when Doctor Strange uses the time stone to manipulate time on an apple, the scene is pulled directly from the film. There are many scenes drawn from the Doctor Strange film, and this is probably one of the best and most easily recognisable.
If you recognised the newscaster on the television when Stephen learns of Christine’s death, that’s because it’s Christine Everhart, seen in Ironman and Ironman 2. She is even voiced by Leslie Bibb too.
Absolute point in time
The Ancient One explains that Christine’s death is an “absolute point in time,” which is very important for the future of the MCU. This means that certain events cannot be changed, even in other timelines. This theory will undoubtedly prove vital as we move into Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. If I had to guess, I would say that Peter Parker’s identity being revealed could be an “absolute point,” which is why we see the chaos of the multiverse happening in the recently released trailer.
Stephen finds the lost Library of Cagliostro, which Wong previously mentioned in Doctor Strange.
O’Bengh, who guards the Library of Cagliostro, is a character from the comics, where he IS Cagliostro. He studied the Darkhold, the book currently being used by Wanda after the events of WandaVision.
While Stephen is looking for a book on time manipulation, he skips past books on transmutation, telekinesis and teleportation. These are all skills both he and Wanda Maximoff have in the Marvel comics.
When Strange opens the book on time manipulation, the symbol for time travel can be seen. It’s the same symbol previously seen when as he studied the Eye of Agamotto in Doctor Strange.
The first creature Strange encounters while trying to gain power appears to be the same monster Captain Carter encountered in What If…? ‘s first episode. This could be Shuma-Gorath, the mythical tentacle monster that Doctor Strange clashes with in the comics, rumoured to appear in Doctor Strange 2.
Strange interacts with The Watcher, which is the first time we’ve seen anyone who is aware of his existence. He asks for his help, which is refused. In the comics The Watcher has been known to interfere with timelines on more than one occasion…
After being injured by the monster, Strange is reminded by O’Bengh that “mystic beings do not bargain”, which sounds like a nod to when Strange tried to bargain with Dormammu in Doctor Strange.
The Ancient One explains that two timelines are occurring in the same universe. It seems to me that this is what will happen in Spider-Man: No Way Home, and is how we see old villains and possibly Andrew and Tobey showing up alongside Tom Holland’s Peter.
Because of the two timelines, there are two versions of Doctor Strange; it’s possible for this to occur in Spider-Man and could explain why something felt weird about Strange in the trailer. Could Spider-Man: No Way Home feature an alternate Doctor Strange?
Wong places a “heavy-duty protection spell” on Strange and calls it “The Guardian Vishanti.” In the comics, The Vishanti are a trio of beings who help the Sorcerer Supreme.
Evil Strange isn’t taken from the comics, but he does look very similar to The Necromancer, an evil version of Strange from Counter-Earth. In the comics, The Necromancer paralleled Doctor Strange until his path diverged when he killed Baron Mardo.
When Strange is seen fighting his evil self, he uses the magical lasso spell, the same one he used against Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.
When Evil Strange absorbs Doctor Strange, his magic turns from green to red. In the MCU, red is typically used to symbolise Chaos magic, which Wanda uses, so it’s safe to assume that he’s using chaos magic here.
In the end, as Christine disappears, it mirrors when Vision did the same at the end of WandaVision.
Similar to Wanda in WandaVision, Stephen Strange goes through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These are shown throughout the episode. Also similar to Wanda is how Stephen Created false realities and messed with timelines to save the one person he loved.
Where there any important details you noticed that we missed? Do you think anything from this episode of What If…? will come into play in future MCU projects?