Spider-Man: No Way Home established that Wong assumed the role of Sorcerer Supreme in Doctor Strange's absence during the five-year Blip. And although Doctor Strange returned in Avengers: Endgame, it seems there hadn’t been any need for a “take-back” rule regarding the rights to leadership over Masters of the Mystic Arts when someone returns from the dead.
According to Doctor Strange, Wong got the title of Sorcerer Supreme thanks to “a technicality.” Even so, this meant that Stephen Strange could only resume his role as the Master of the New York Sanctum when he came home; he would no longer have the power, or “higher duties,” of the Sorcerer Supreme and would be strictly devoted to the Sanctum.
Because of this, Doctor Strange is going to be much more limited in terms of assisting the Avengers. This could explain why Strange hasn’t been around for some of the MCU’s biggest problems lately, including a mishap in Westview that left a whole town traumatized just over state lines.
Stephen Strange: Doctor or Defender?
Doctor Strange and the Sanctum Sanctorum seem somewhat synonymous at this point, and now they really will be.
As it turns out, the capacity in which Doctor Strange appeared in Spider-Man: No Way Home may be the extent of his ability in his new MCU role right now.
For reference, when Doctor Strange was appointed to Master of the New York Sanctum in his 2016 origin film, it was because Master Daniel Drumm had died defending it mere minutes prior. Following the developments of No Way Home, Doctor Strange’s number-one job is to defend his mystical mansion at any cost, just as Master Drumm did.
When Doctor Strange appeared in No Way Home, it wasn’t until after Peter Parker stole something from him and created a bigger threat that Strange was shown stepping outside of the Sanctum Sanctorum. It quite literally took danger being within his own walls for Doctor Strange to step outside of the New York Sanctum in the wall-crawler’s third MCU outing — much like the Sanctum’s previous MCU appearances.
Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum Has Seen Better Days
It takes a lot to convince a wizard to get some fresh air.
Similar to how Doctor Strange doesn’t take action beyond the Sanctum walls in No Way Home until he deems it absolutely necessary, the same is seen in Avengers: Infinity War when neither Doctor Strange nor Wong left the compound until after Hulk crashed through their ceiling and aliens were descending onto the streets.
When Doctor Strange was abducted and taken to space in Infinity War, Wong stayed behind to secure the New York Sanctum. Rather than going after Strange, Wong told Bruce Banner that he had to stay behind because “the Sanctum (remained) unguarded.”
In fact, this same rule may even be the reason why Wong couldn’t tag along with Strange to snag a sandwich at the start of Infinity War. Wong at least deserves a thirty-minute lunch break from defending the New York Sanctum so he can say yes to that New York deli tuna melt.
Wong knew the stakes that came with Thanos collecting the Infinity Stones, yet he still chose to defend the Sanctum rather than stop the Mad Titan. As soon as there wasn’t an immediate threat at his doorstep, Wong returned to the Sanctum and wasn’t seen for the rest of the film.
Some called it cowardly, but Wong was showing that there’s no one more faithful than he is to the ways of the Mystic Arts. And unfortunately, it looks like Doctor Strange will be subject to the same rules moving forward.
Doctor Strange’s Absence in WandaVision: A Technicality
If Wong wasn’t able to leave the New York Sanctum unguarded to stop Thanos from wiping out half of all life in the universe, then Doctor Strange’s new job is going to seriously impair his ability to lend a hand when an Avenger needs one.
In fact, the way that fans saw Peter consult Doctor Strange in Spider-Man: No Way Home is pretty much exactly how the magician is currently of use in the MCU. Much like his appearance in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, Doctor Strange is essentially a mystical consultant that can help another hero on their quest but can’t accompany him unless the fate of the world is at stake.
Ironically, both times Doctor Strange has been shown helping another hero on his quest, he’s indirectly helped unleash the Goddess of Death in Ragnarok and effectively broken open the Multiverse in No Way Home.
Nevertheless, Doctor Strange has resumed his duties as Master of the New York Sanctum, so he probably hasn’t left Manhattan for much of anything. This means he wouldn’t have been able to make the trip out to New Jersey to stop Wanda Maximoff from forcing four thousand people in Westview to play dress-up with her because he can't leave the Sanctum unguarded.
This also means that something will have to happen in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in order for Strange to be allowed to track down Wanda, since she’s a bit further away than New Jersey now. Nevertheless, rather than saying, “he just didn’t make the final draft of the show,” fans now have a more concrete answer to why Doctor Strange didn’t intervene in WandaVision.