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Warning: there are MAJOR SPOILERS for Doctor Strange ahead! If you haven't seen the movie yet, turn back now and click on another one of your fine articles.
Kaecilius may have served as Doctor Strange's main antagonist, but it was Dormammu, ruler of the Dark Dimension, that was revealed as the biggest source of malevolent power in this movie. Fortunately, thanks to his clever use of the Eye of Agamotto (later revealed to be the Time Stone), Strange was able to end Dormammu's reign of terror in the climax. Assuming the Marvel Cinematic Universe has other plans for Doctor Strange past Avengers: Infinity War (and they probably do), this likely isn't the last we've seen of Dormammu. His conflict with the Sorcerer Supreme will continue just like it has for decades in the comics. However, for the MCU, we've been wondering about an incredible, yet bizarre way, Doctor Strange may have changed the relationship between Dormammu and the eponymous protagonist. What if Dormammu is actually a dark and significantly more powerful version of Doctor Stephen Strange himself?
We fully admit that this is an insane theory, but hear us out.
For those of you who don't know, Dormammu was voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, who told our own Eric Eisenberg that it was his idea to do the voice so that the entity would come off more as a "mirror reflection" of Strange rather than just a "big ghoulish monster." Okay, that's an interesting tidbit, but not enough to sustain the idea of Dormammu and Doctor Strange sharing a closer connection in this universe. However, don't forget that earlier in the movie, Wong told Strange there were consequences for manipulating time and breaking the laws of nature. Rewinding time to prevent the Hong Kong Sanctum from being destroyed definitely falls into the "law breaking category." Strange also showed more willingness to break certain mystical rules to protect the innocent, which was one of the reasons Mordo left.
What if Strange's showdown with Dormammu, along with any decisions he may make in the future that result in more reality fractures somehow leads to Strange's darker and more egotistical self somehow manifesting itself as Dormammu? Remember, time doesn't exist in the Dark Dimension, so if something were to happen in our reality's future that were to affect this other plane of existence, then technically such a change could exist in the Dark Dimension for all time. That's how Stephen Strange would be able to interact with Dormammu, even though in our universe, the events we're speculating about haven't happened yet. Yes, this is all very timey-wimey, to borrow a Doctor Who phrase.
To be perfectly clear, this theory isn't saying that Doctor Strange will straight-up become Dormammu in the future. The entity would somehow emerge from deep within Strange due to how he's been manipulating certain spells in ways that others have advised against. Strange's intentions are good, but if Wong and others are correct, breaking the rules so many times will have severe side-effects, which could include this Dormammu split off. So when would this proverbial bombshell be dropped? A reveal of this magnitude would like be saved for Doctor Strange 3, as this first movie set up Baron Mordo as Doctor Strange 2's big villain, not to mention director Scott Derrickson has expressed interest in using Nightmare.
Of course, longtime Marvel enthusiasts know this theory is far away from what their relationship is like in the comics. On the printed page, Dormammu is simply a god-like being who had no connection to Doctor Strange prior to their first showdown in Strange Tales #126. They've since become sworn enemies, but to go past that and make Dormammu Strange's dark doppelgänger would come off as too crazy a departure to many fans. On the other hand, narratively-speaking, it would be interesting if the very magical actions that Strange has taken to keep Earth safe would later result in him inadvertently spawning one of the greatest mystical threats to ever exist. Since this is a superhero movie, it's assumed that Strange would vanquish Dormammu again in the end (but not kill him, as the being is too strong), but it would come at a great cost. You have to admit, such a battle would make one hell of a conclusion to a Doctor Strange movie trilogy.
Assuming this theory proved correct, This wouldn't be the first time the MCU has radically altered a villain. Iron Man 3 changed The Mandarin from his comic book iteration to the impostor played by Ben Kingsley's Trevor Slattery, who was a cover for A.I.M.'s illegal activities. The short film All Hail the King later revealed that there is a legitimate Mandarin somewhere on Earth, but until the real deal shows up, Slattery (and Aldrich Killian, to a lesser degree) is who we have. That being said, changing Dormammu is not remotely in the same category of change. Marvel needed to adjust The Mandarin to avoid the racial insensitivity from the character's early history, whereas there's no such need for Dormammu. Would it make an interesting plot twist? Sure, but Dormammu is still an interesting character if just a regular being who rules over another dimension with an iron fist.
It's also worth mentioning that in another interview, Scott Derrickson said that Dormammu "imitated" Doctor Strange because he doesn't have a physical form in the Dark Dimension, so he had to model himself on the Master of the Mystic Arts during their confrontation. For now, that's the biggest problem with this theory, although it doesn't discount the possibility entirely. And let's be frank, even if Dormammu don't end up being a monstrous Strange duplicate, he'll still make a captivating villain for a future movie. Nonetheless, given the creative liberties the MCU sometime takes with the comic books, this theory is something to be considered.
What do you think? Is there even the slightest chance that Dormammu could somehow be revealed to be a darker, malevolent version of Doctor Strange, or do you think we're absolutely nuts for thinking of this in the first place? Let us know in the comments below.