*SPOILERS FOR EPISODE FOUR BELOW*
Given Marvel is known for its lighter tone in TV and film, the latest episode of the animated series, What If…?, challenged this creative motif with an emotionally dark entry featuring Doctor Strange. According to Comicbook.com, series star Jeffery Wright, who narrates the anthology series, touched on how he was even “rocked” by the unfortunate end to this specific timeline’s Sorcerer Supreme.
“Strange’s dilemma is such a timeless one,” Wright stated to Entertainment Weekly. “And when I saw this episode for the first time, I guess that timelessness was very timely for me. It just rocked me. It hit me pretty close to home,” Wright said via EW.
In this week’s episode, titled “What If…? Dr. Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands,” Benedict Cumberbatch’s (The Courier) prolific surgeon, Stephen Strange, didn’t lose his hands in his origin story’s tragic car accident, but the love of his life in Christine Palmer, voiced by Rachel McAdams (The Notebook). When attempts in altering time to save her life fail, Dr. Strange devolves to using dark magic in reviving Palmer, losing everything in the process. Fans have raved this as the best episode thus far since premiering Wednesday morning.
“We all, at times, have tried to reverse circumstances and undo events, or at least we all, at times, have wished we were able to trace our steps backward and try to undo events that have not turned out as we might have desired they turned out the first time,” Wright continued via EW. “The framing of that temptation for him was really well-conceived of in this episode, and I just found myself sinking further and further into this hopelessly tragic abyss with Strange as it unfolded — for reasons that I won’t go into detail about.”
Wright plays the series’ narrator, The Watcher, who views all the events of these alternate universes in real-time. But, he must not interfere in the developments that unfold before him. Even when Strange – whose errant behavior tragically causes a universal collapse – begs for The Watcher’s assistance, Wright’s character must refrain from doing so. As much as Wright recognizes Strange’s episode as a departure from the series’ somewhat jovial tone, he wouldn’t necessarily describe it as dark.
“I use the term dark differently than some. I just saw it as tragic,” the Westworld actor said, according to Comicbook.com. “I don’t know if that’s dark, tragedy is something that we will all experience. There’s something deeply human and emotional about it for me. Yes, he’s tortured by this loss and desperate and full of hubris and lost, but for me it just seems so perfectly human. So I think I describe it more in those terms than it being dark. It’s just filled with pathos. And for that reason I really empathize with that journey. I found myself, like The Watcher, there with him,” Wright finished via Comicbook.com.
Expect to see more of The Watcher and other MCU misadventures as new episodes of What If…? stream every Wednesday on Disney+.