Did Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) see further into the future in Avengers: Infinity War than we were led to believe? When some of Earth's Mightiest Heroes and the Guardians of the Galaxy arrived on Titan, they quickly tried to devise a plan to defeat Thanos (Josh Brolin) on his home turf. As the Sorcerer Supreme, Strange used his magical abilities and those of the Time Stone to view 14,000,605 possible outcomes of the conflict with the Mad Titan.
Through all of these futures, there was only one where the Avengers were victorious in defeating Thanos. This future is the one audiences saw play out in Avengers: Endgame earlier this year. The only reason Strange was able to see this future though is because he was brought back to life from Hulk's snap. As explained in Doctor Strange, sorcerers cannot see beyond their own death. That's why Strange had to live through each of the 14 million futures until he found the one where the Avengers won.
This did raise some questions though, such as if there were other futures where Strange stayed dead the Avengers could've been victorious. Strange did coordinate the armies arriving to fight Thanos, but he had no way of knowing whether or not something like this happened if he stayed dead. It took coincidences like a rat letting Scott Lang out of the Quantum Realm to ultimately defeat Thanos; surely there had to be at least one future where Strange actually died, and the Avengers still won. One aspect of his visions of the future being overlooked, however, is just how far into the single winning future did he look?
Strange's primary goal when looking into the future was finding a way for the Avengers to defeat Thanos. This future resulted in an MCU where Iron Man and Black Widow died, Captain America grew old with Peggy Carter, and Hulk was permanently damaged. Sure, all of this did mean Thanos was defeated, but it did come at a cost. Not only did some major heroes have to die, but they also created several branched realities because of their time travel antics.
As more details start to come out about Phase 4 of the MCU, all of this may come back to haunt the remaining heroes. 2012's Loki could bring his sinister and trickster ways to the main MCU timeline if the rumors are true. This is just one possible way Strange may have been shortsighted in finding "victory" over Thanos. He may have stopped looking into this future when Thanos and his army disappeared, or even shortly after. If that is the case, Strange may not have accounted for the possibility that Thanos being defeated in this way would bring about even more significant threats in the future. Someone like Kang the Conquerer could put the main MCU timeline in his sights after they messed with various realities.
It's also possible Strange went further into this future then he is letting on. Since he was brought back to life with Hulk's snap, Strange would be able to see the MCU's future up until he died - either naturally or in battle. In either case, the future where the Avengers "won" may have been about more than just defeating Thanos in the present. Strange could've ensured that the universe would be safe from anything else that came during Strange's lifetime. Strange may have already witnessed future conflict with Kang, Galactus, or whoever becomes the MCU's new mega-villain. He won't be able to look into the future going forward after losing the Time Stone, so he probably won't get the chance to pull off such a trick again. That's all the more reason to hope he got as much out of his vision of the future as possible.
Either way, how far into the future Doctor Strange saw could make him an even more fascinating character moving forward. If he did see everything else that would come and put the MCU on a path towards greater safety, will he be able to make sure this future is still realized? And, if that future means others continue to sacrifice their lives instead of him, will that create any friction with other heroes? But, if he didn't look past Thanos' death, then we could soon see him grapple with the possibility of his failure once the next threat arrives. If we do learn more about Strange's visions in future MCU films, it could add even more weight to the moment in Avengers: Infinity War on repeat viewings.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021