While Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness delivered one of the most expansive stories in MCU history with its characters and plotlines, it also brought one of the MCU's most focused stories to date as it highlighted both Wanda Maximoff and Doctor Stephen Strange. As Wanda's journey continued in the aftermath of WandaVision, Strange met a few of his Variants and learned more about himself than ever in his second solo movie.
Warning - the rest of this article contains spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
These Variants of Strange took one wild turn after another as the story pushed forward, kicking things off with Defender Strange giving his life for America Chavez all the way to meeting Sinister Strange in a downtrodden Sanctum Sanctorum. While these interactions helped push the story forward, leading to Prime Strange using the Darkhold to stop Wanda's rampage, fans also had a couple of moments to see Strange's individual story evolve as well.
Yes, even in a movie that features the first take on the Illuminati and the introduction of powerful heroes like America Chavez and Clea, some of the deepest scenes took a dive into Stephen Strange as a human being. In that light, one of those scenes came in the movie's final stages, as fans saw a follow-up to a moment that was initially meant to be in Cumberbatch's first solo outing.
Doctor Strange Reveals Family History
Near the end of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the prime Stephen Strange meets his darker Variant, Sinister Strange, from a universe that was in the middle of its destruction due to an Incursion. To show that he's the same person, 616-Strange mentions to Sinister Strange that they had a sister, Donna, who passed away tragically when they were kids.
“We had a sister. Donna. She died when we were kids... We were playing on a frozen lake and... she fell through the ice. I couldn’t save her.”
Donna Strange was actually utilized in a deleted scene from 2016's Doctor Strange, which showed her death on camera in the same way Strange described in the scene from the sequel. This is a plot line that comes directly from the comics, as the good doctor's sister actually played a huge role in leading him to become a doctor in the first place.
On the page, Stephen first helped Donna with a sprained ankle that she suffered while skating, first sparking his interest in becoming a doctor at a young age himself. Then, she died tragically after drowning in a lake while she and Stephen were swimming, leading Stephen to feel largely responsible for her death.
During an interview with Collider from 2016, Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson discussed how that deleted scene would have played into the original movie, describing it as a particularly great scene that they had to leave on the editing room table.
“Strange has a backstory where his sister died... that she drowned. That had a real significant effect and probably was instrumental in him becoming a doctor. We shot that scene. I loved that scene, it was a really great scene. It just didn’t fit in the movie, it didn’t work.”
Doctor Strange Becomes Comic Accurate
Before he became a master magician and an Avenger, Doctor Strange was a brilliant but exceedingly arrogant neurosurgeon who felt he could control anything he wanted as a result of his brilliance and skills. His chats with Rachel McAdams' Christine Palmer at the start of his own solo movie showed how deeply invested he was with his work, to the point of obsession, giving him the "overinflated ego" that the Ancient One spoke to him about.
In the same way that his sister Donna inspired him to become a doctor in the first place in the comics, this deleted scene seemingly did the same thing for his MCU counterpart. This event gave Doctor Strange that single-minded focus towards making sure that he could save lives after being unable to save his sister, giving him a somewhat protective nature hidden deep beneath his outwardly condescending persona.
Looking at both sides of that persona, however, leads to an interesting question: could his sister's death be the reason he's so protective over his younger MCU companions?
Strange Looks Over Spider-Man, America Chavez, & More
Particularly in Phase 4 of the MCU, Doctor Strange has become somewhat parental and protective over some of the MCU's younger heroes - most notably Spider-Man in Spider-Man: No Way Home and America Chavez in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
In this latest adventure, fans see the evolution in Strange from beginning to end, starting with Defender Strange being willing to take America's powers in order to save the Multiverse from complete disaster. By the end of the movie, 616-Strange is possessing the corpse of another Variant to make sure that America keeps her abilities and uses them to defeat Wanda herself, reinforcing that she's had the power in her to do it all along.
Losing his sister could be the biggest thing keeping Strange's heart in tact, shown through how he went to such drastic measures to try to keep anything like what happened to Donna from happening to anybody else by becoming a doctor. Seeing him admit it to Sinister Strange helped push him even further toward becoming the best version of himself, especially as he tries to protect the next generation of heroes in the process.
While the scene featuring Donna Strange may not have come to fruition in the original movie, its impact on the sequel can't be understated as the hero's journey moves forward.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now playing in theaters worldwide.