What If...? has been exploring several alternate realities throughout the vast multiverse, and one of them tackles a universe where Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange lost his heart.
The reality was pushed to the forefront during the fourth episode of the series, and it showed Stephen Strange losing Christine Palmer instead of his hands in the fateful car accident that changed his life.
After the death of Palmer, Strange went to Kamar-Taj to seek answers, eventually becoming the Master of the Mystic Arts. However, this version of Strange was still reeling from the death of Palmer, forcing him to use the Eye of Agamotto to go back in time in an attempt to save her.
Given Palmer's death is an "Absolute Point" in time, this act led him to a darker path that ultimately ended his universe.
Now, the writer behind What If...? shared new details about the original plan for the episode's ending.
Doctor Strange Originally Received a Darker Ending
What If...? head writer A.C. Bradley sat down with Entertainment Weekly to talk about the episode revolving around Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange Supreme.
In the original plan, Bradley shared that the death of the "regular Strange" was a "lot more gruesome:"
"Originally in the script, regular Strange, his death was a lot more gruesome. He was actually beaten to death by the Eye of Agamotto. Then when the storyboard artist took it over, they were like, 'We're going to make this a little bit more visual and fantastical instead of horrifically violent.' Because I went too dark."
During the fourth episode, the "real Strange" died when Doctor Strange Supreme absorbed him in order to effectively bring Palmer back to his reality.
The MCU writer then referenced the original What If...? comic books for having "tragic endings and twist endings" which were later translated to the animated series:
"But this was our chance to be big comic book dorks and show the different sides and have some fun. And the original What If...? comic books were notorious for having tragic endings and twist endings which I wanted to play with. And we were free to go wherever we wanted."
What If Doctor Strange Received a Happy Ending?
It would have been interesting to see the original ending play out since unleashing the full might of the Eye of Agamotto would've been a visual treat.
Still, the fact that Bradley and the What If...? crew decided to go with "a bit more visual and fantastical" approach instead of violence is a good decision, mainly due to the praise that the episode received from fans and critics.
Bradley's reference to the What If...? comic books goes to show that the creators behind the series are still honoring the past while also adding new ideas that enhance every episode.
It remains to be seen if Doctor Strange Supreme will debut in the live-action MCU, but the Master of the Mystic Arts will need to deal with Ultron first in the What If...? finale. At the tail-end of the penultimate episode of the series' first season, The Watcher is seen asking Strange for help to defeat the Infinity Stone-infused AI robot.
Given that the Guardians of the Multiverse will now be formed in the finale to potentially defeat Ultron, it appears that Doctor Strange Supreme is poised to have a happier ending this time around instead of experiencing another tragic fate.
The season finale of What If...? is set to premiere on Disney+ on Wednesday, October 6, 2021.