Wait – Did The MCU Forget About Doctor Strange’s Villain Set Up?

Wait – Did The MCU Forget About Doctor Strange’s Villain Set Up?
Wait – Did The MCU Forget About Doctor Strange’s Villain Set Up?

2016’s Doctor Strange was the first film in the MCU to introduce audiences to the titular doctor, and it set up a villain that seems to have been forgotten. As well as making the concept of “true magic” a reality in the franchise (the first Thor film punted this by explaining away Asgardian magic as simply “advanced technology”), it introduced the most famous rivalry in Strange’s comics, that between Stephen Strange and Mordo. But while the film did a fantastic job setting up the friends-to-rivals scenario, the MCU dropped the ball in actually following through on it. 

At the end of Doctor Strange Mordo parts ways with Benedict Cumberbatch’s Strange after a disagreement on how the two of them should go about defeating Dormammu, the more-powerful-than-gods cosmic entity the film’s villain Kaicilius sought to unleash upon the earth. Stephen believes no methods, no matter how dangerous, should be left off the table; this is the fate of reality at stake. Mordo believes that because reality is at stake, utilizing reality-bending magic might not work out. Strange uses the power of the Eye of Agamotto (and the Time Stone contained within) and wins the day. This, combined with learning of the Ancient One’s hypocrisy, leaves Mordo vowing to destroy all sorcerers on the planet in an attempt to protect it.

What Happened To Mordo From Earth-616?

Baron Mordo yelling at Stephen Strange while Kaicilius attempts a spell in the background

At the end of Doctor Strange, it’s really not clear what happens to Mordo from Earth-616, but a future path is laid out for the sorcerer. A mid-credit scene from Doctor Strange shows Mordo, played by Oscar-nominated Chiwetel Ejiofor, hunting down a completely benign sorcerer that Stephen Strange met early in his journey, who had used magic to regain the ability to walk. Mordo kills him in cold blood, saying in no uncertain terms that the problem with the world is “too many sorcerers.” This clearly sets up a very strong motivation and character arc for a magic user second only to Strange and Wong. 

But despite multiple appearances of magical characters throughout the MCU in the years since, this version of Mordo has yet to make another appearance. Wanda created a bubble reality in WandaVision using magic, which was strong enough for mundane forces to notice. Nico Minoru and her mother in Runaways used some of the most powerful magic on the planet with the Staff of One. Even gods are on Strange’s radar in Thor: Ragnarok. However, it seems that Mordo did not notice any of this (or indeed Moon Knight)—there was not one appearance from Karl Mordo.

Doctor Strange 2 Made The Mordo Snub Worse

Karl Mordo in Doctor Strange 2

When Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was announced, many viewers believed this was where the setup of Mordo as a villain would be paid off. Mordo would go on a rampage across Earth, slaughtering sorcerers before finally learning that there is an infinite number across the multiverse. With the announcement that Wanda Maximoff would be joining, the belief was that the two of them together would have to join forces against Mordo’s reality-hopping genocide.  

But to the dismay of many, Mordo’s appearance in Doctor Strange 2 was far from this. Strange does encounter his old frenemy, but not the version from Earth-616. He runs afoul of a completely different version of the man, who had a completely different relationship with his own Strange. What’s more, Strange never seems to even contemplate his fallout with his own Mordo and how his own actions led to that deterioration. With every chance to integrate a classic character in a compelling way, Marvel chose a story that left that character in limbo, while keeping the world at large stuck in the status quo, leading many to believe that the MCU bubble may have burst.

Next: Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania Post-Credits Scenes Explained

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