Doctor Strange is one of the most iconic magic users in Marvel Comics, and despite most of the time being shown in the heroic light, Doctor Strange has been known to blur the lines between heroism, anti-heroism, and even villainy by displaying vain and self-absorbed behavior. This is why we decided to analyze his actions as well as personality in a bit more detail so we can answer a pretty straightforward question, is Doctor Strange a villain or hero?
Doctor Strange is a hero, even though he displayed some character lines that are usually associated with villains, such as arrogance, materialism, vanity, and haughtiness. Despite these early character traits, Doctor Strange has since undergone significant character growth, becoming the protector of the world against both magical and multiversal threats with a unique understanding of magic, and he does this selflessly, often at his own expense. He might not be the most clear-cut superhero around and sometimes makes choices that can be morally grey, but he is not a villain.
Now that we’ve covered that Doctor Strange is a hero and has been for the most part of his life, it’s time to analyze it in a bit more detail. If you’re interested in more, stay with us and keep reading!
Doctor Strange was more of a villain before he gained superpowers
Stephen Strange was born in 1930 at the family’s Nebraska farm. He had one sister younger than him called Donna, and a brother named Victor, and incidents related to his siblings are both what inspired him to pursue a medical career and what ultimately made him disillusioned with the profession since he couldn’t save her life while she was drowning and she passed away.
Still, he decided to start studying and earned his medical degree in record time, soon after that becoming eligible for residency in New York. Stephen Strange made it big in record time, and this left him with a sort of chip on his shoulder. Things took a turn for the worse when he became an extremely popular and respected neurosurgeon by the time he was 30.
But as I’ve mentioned, Strange became disillusioned with “helping people” after his sister died, and he mostly valued money over the lives of his patients. He was vain and materialistic, cold and reckless, and he was interested in helping people as long as there was something in it for him.
This outlook and terrible personality overall is what broke his engagement with Madeleine Revell, who realized in time that Strange is not going to become a better person. He will keep on sliding into this cruel and insensitive persona he created to shield himself from trauma.
What happened to Strange’s sister, however, was not the only trauma that he would face. He lost his mother and then his father. Strange refused to visit his father on his deathbed as he was incapable of dealing with such a thing. He rather opted to be cold and detached instead of facing his feelings and all the pain that came with it. Following his father’s death, Strange’s brother Victor confronted him in an argument because he was seemingly unaffected by their parent’s deaths.
The two fought, and Victor stormed out of the apartment and got hit by a car. Strange could never say a proper goodbye to his brother and decided to freeze him in the hope that in the future, he would be able to revive him. (It didn’t end well).
As you can see, Strange was a major ass, and he was everything but a hero. In fact, he had an opportunity to help people heroically even before he gained superpowers, but he chose not to, so I guess Strange was a villain at one point, but everything changed the moment he got into a car accident.
Strange is a damaged regular person turned superhero and inspires hope
As we’ve mentioned, Strange was a celebrated neurosurgeon, which means that he mostly relied on his hands. One of the most devastating blows to his character and (and financial state) came after the fateful accident where the nerves in his hands were damaged beyond repair.
Strange was unwilling to go past that, and I guess you can say that he refused to accept the loss and move on. He offered other positions, the ones that would provide him with less money and less influence, but it is what it is. He refused and instead focused his sights on trying out any alternative and potentially unproven treatment.
Strange would eventually spend every last dime chasing rumors, and he actually spent his last money to reach Ancient One’s Tibetan palace, and after pondering the mistakes from his early life and coming to terms with his grief and losses, he was finally able to move on and become a hero that the humanity needed.
Even though Strange started as an ass, his character has evolved nowadays Strange is among the most powerful protectors of humanity against supernatural threats. He follows a strict code of ethics and always strives to prevent harm and protect the innocents. He is also a member of several superhero teams and fights threats on several fronts. He sacrificed many things over the years in his pursuit of peace, faced his internal demons, and overall represents hope that no one is beyond redemption. This is what makes Dr. Strange a hero rather than a villain. Still, he was never a straight-edge superhero like Superman, for example.
Dr. Strange has done some morally gray things in the past
Of course, when we’re talking about villainous Doctor Strange, we mostly have alternative versions of the character as a reference, but it’s important to point out that he is not your classical superhero.
During ‘The Oath’ storyline, Strange was willing to dabble in Black Magic in order to save Wong’s life, who was at the time dying of cancer. Strange had some good arguments. For example, one might rationalize that using advanced medicine to cure someone might fall in the same domain as using magic. Still, the fact remains that this storyline wasn’t the brightest display of his potential.
In ‘Doctor Strange: Damnation,’ Doctor Strange’s actions indirectly lead to the destruction of Las Vegas. He then makes a pact with Mephisto to resurrect the city, which leads to some morally gray decisions and consequences. He was also known to be aligned with Dormammu, one of his greatest enemies, on several occasions.
Doctor Strange was also no stranger to being possessed by dark forces, but this is hardly his fault. He also sometimes had quite a radical stance toward mutants and other magic users.
However, none of this manifested in Doctor Strange turning into a straight-up villain.
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