Before Endgame went on to be the biggest superhero movie of all time, it was Infinity War that had achieved this feat. Endgame’s story was complex, but this complicated plot was set up by Infinity War, and in particular by Doctor Strange who saw 14 Million 605 alternative futures in a matter of minutes. He didn’t have a bigger role in Endgame, but what he did in the Infinity War was extremely crucial to the plot.
What’s crazy is that he actually had more screen time than the likes of Captain America who is one of the big three. Doctor Strange was established as one of the strongest Avengers in a span of just 3 film appearances. His sorcery really raised a lot of eye brows since he had grown so powerful following the mystic arts. That’s what really excites us about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Things are gonna go 180 degrees crazy.
His screen time in Infinity War actually would have been even more as there was a certain side-trip which the creatives spent quite a lot of time on, but ended up dropping it anyway. Talking to Backstory Magazine, writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely said:
“McFeely – I won’t go into great detail about what it was, because you never knew when Marvel might go to the attic and use it, but we went down a long and very complicated tangent into the Doctor Strange world that was super fun. It had next to nothing to do with the Thanos story, but it was vaguely caused by the Thanos story. It was a side trip, and we spent a lot of time on it because everybody liked it — in theory.
Markus – But what we kept bumping up against is why in a movie about a guy collecting six stones are we off doing this? And staying on story really was the big lesson to take away from both of these movies. As fun as it is to take a left turn into Easter egg land, it’s gonna kill your movie.”
While the writers didn’t give us any specifics about the scene they’re talking about here, they do tease that the future movies could use this side-trip in a way that may suit the story. Back at Comic-Con, the writers revealed that there was a deleted scene which would have seen Doctor Strange take Thanos on a wonky trip to fight the Living Tribunal.
This massive cosmic entity would have popped into the story right during the fight between Doctor Strange & Thanos. The Living Tribunal is a big 3 headed creature whose main function of is to safeguard & protect the entire multiverse. He has the duty to oversee and maintain balance in all realities, so his appearance in Infinity War may have been fitting, but the writers weren’t allowed to use the character since it was a story about Thanos going for the Infinity Stones, and a massive identity like this would have had people more confused than ever.
Apparently, Strange would have sent Thanos on a tour through the multiverse just like the Ancient One sent him, and that would have been the land of Easter Eggs that Christopher Markus was talking about above. The writers described this scene:
“Christopher Markus – [Kevin Feige suggested not losing the ] psychedelic aspect of the ‘Starlin-verse,’ where people travel inside their eyeballs and things like that. Doctor Strange blew Thanos’ mind and sent him through the mindscape.
Stephen McFeely – So the idea was that [Thanos is] sort of zipping through the universe being presented with all of his many, many crimes. So bodies are being thrown at him, he lands and things turn into bodies, hands are grasping at him, and it’s just really kind of grim. And at the end he gets dumped in front of the Living Tribunal who judges him guilty. It was great, it was really… when you introduce the idea of the Living Tribunal, it does open up a whole new era. I don’t know if my grandmother would understand that.”
A version of this could be used later on in the MCU. Imagine if Doctor Strange does this to Nightmare in the third act of Doctor Strange 2. The film will most likely have Nightmare torture Doctor Strange, and right at the end when Strange finally fights back, he could unleash the full might of his powers on Nightmare and give him a taste of his own medicine!