Doctor Strange Awaits His Final Fight with the MCU’s Mordo

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness continues exploring plot threads from various prior installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from the grim consequences of Avengers: Infinity War to the birth of the Scarlet Witch during WandaVision. However, one key character from Strange’s past is notably absent, delaying the final showdown between the pair teased in the first Doctor Strange.

That film’s post-credits scene depicted Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) draining power from Jonathan Pangborn (Benjamin Bratt), having become disillusioned with magic users due to the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) harnessing strength from the Dark Dimension. He declares that the world has “too many sorcerers,” teasing his evolution into the Mordo that serves as Doctor Strange’s nemesis in Marvel Comics.

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However, the MCU’s Mordo has been absent since this stinger, with the version in Multiverse of Madness hailing from Earth-838. While Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) alludes to his Mordo having a murderous vendetta against him, implying further encounters beyond the original movie, none of them have appeared onscreen, meaning that the six-year-old cliffhanger remains unresolved.

That is especially intriguing given that Multiverse of Madness did intend to provide such a resolution, albeit an anticlimactic one. The film would have opened with the MCU’s Mordo being beheaded by Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), establishing the Scarlet Witch as the true antagonist. By choosing instead to reveal her villainy later in Act One, Multiverse of Madness spares Mordo from being cast aside to demonstrate Wanda’s self-evident might, giving him a chance to live up to the threat promised in the first Doctor Strange.

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Indeed, recent events should only reinforce Mordo’s crusade against humanity’s use of magic. In particular, the Darkhold seemingly corrupts anyone who uses it, with the Scarlet Witch and many Doctor Strange variants creating havoc while enthralled by its power. Even the MCU’s Strange is not immune to its curses; after possessing his own variant’s corpse to defeat Wanda, the Darkhold curses him with a third eye, a reminder of the dark magic he dared to use and the risk of further corruption in the future.

What complicates matters is the possibility that more than one Mordo will return to the MCU. Earth-838’s variant became the sole surviving member of his universe’s Illuminati, his teammates being massacred by the Scarlet Witch after she and Strange arrived in their world. Having already held a grudge towards Earth-838’s deceased Strange, it is not inconceivable that he could transfer his hatred towards the MCU’s Strange and seek to avenge his friends.

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Whether that means the two Mordos can become allies is up for serious debate. As much as both may wish to destroy Strange, Earth-838’s Mordo is not an apostate like his MCU counterpart, having become his world’s Sorcerer Supreme. Even if they join forces, the MCU’s Mordo will likely aim to eventually drain or kill his variant, freeing magic from human abuse on a multiversal scale.

Regardless, Multiverse of Madness creates a wealth of potential futures for the MCU’s Mordo, frustrating though the wait may be to see him again. As well as it does in bringing back many elements from the original Doctor Strange, it leaves open richer possibilities than it would have had it stuck to its initial plan for him. In fact, Mordo’s exclusion has only ensured that his inevitable confrontation with Doctor Strange will be a momentous chapter in the MCU.

To meet the Earth-838 variant of Karl Mordo, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is in theaters now.

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