The master of the mystic arts, Doctor Stephen Strange is the Sorcerer Supreme, yet Stephen didn’t start off as a hero. Rather, he was introduced as a selfish brain surgeon. After losing the use of both his hands in an accident, his perspective on life invariably changed. Seeking new ways to heal himself, he eventually came across the Ancient One. Receiving the magical being’s teaching, Strange regained the use of his hands, but not to perform surgery but rather to cast spells, becoming the Sorcerer Supreme.
One of the mightiest mortals ever, there’s little Doctor Strange cannot do. With access to incredible magic, Doctor Strange can teleport, astral project, create force fields, manipulate the fabric of dimensions, fly, sculpt reality to his will if he so desires, and possesses pretty much any other magical power one can imagine. The only limits are those imposed by the writers of the character and Stephen’s own restraint. Even so, because of the multiverse the Marvel Universe resides in, there are a bunch of different versions of Doctor Strange. Today at CBR we’re taking a look at several versions of Doctor Strange who are stronger than the real deal, and a few who aren’t quite the wizard of the hour.
15 STRONGER: SECRET WARS PUNISHER/DOCTOR STRANGE
In Secret Wars: Battleworld #1 the spirit of a different alternate reality Doctor Strange possesses the Punisher after being bitten by vampires. The possessed Punisher was not displeased by this newfound power. He fought Doom’s forces throughout realities with a combination of Strange’s mysticism and his tactical know-how. Going by the appropriately (and awesomely) named “Soldier Supreme”, Frank Castle held nothing back.
While Strange’s much-vaunted powers might be wasted in any other hero’s hands, the Punisher used them with deadly efficiency.
To him, the mystic arts were just a limitless cache of weapons. He easily killed the Hulk and Ghost Rider, blowing up the latter with a magic bazooka. Unfortunately, the Punisher was killed, going out in a blaze of glory, but not before Strange possessed the body of an evil Wolverine.
14 WEAKER: DOCTOR STRANGE 1602
Neil Gaiman’s Marvel 1602 took place in the 17th century and was a bold reimagining of fan-favorite Marvel characters like Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. The miniseries depicted a world where Marvel heroes emerged during the Elizabethan era. In this universe, Doctor Strange played a similar role to John Dee, Queen Elizabeth I’s advisor on all things mystical.
Throughout the series, Strange tried to uncover the reasoning behind the odd weather plaguing Europe. After Doctor Doom and King James of Scotland killed Queen Elizabeth, Strange convinced this world’s Nick Fury to attack Latveria. This Doctor Strange, though indeed possessed power, his expertise lay in knowledge and wisdom, rather than earth-shattering spells. When Strange learned a time traveler had caused all of this world’s problems, he was sworn to secrecy and then let himself be executed for treason. From there, he aided the world’s heroes from the afterlife.
13 STRONGER: DOCTOR STRANGEFATE
In one of their only crossovers, Marvel and DC Comics created the world of Amalgam. Ultimately, it was a failed PR stunt to try and bump up sales. Still, it was a fun ride, as they literally mashed up fan-favorite characters into different heroes. The most powerful of all the Amalgam characters was Doctor Strangefate.
A combination of Doctor Strange, Dr. Fate and Professor X, he had a wide range of mystic abilities and devastating telepathic powers.
Strangefate was so powerful he realized the temporary nature of the Amalgam Universe and sought to prevent its destruction. Though mightier than any one of his counterparts, he failed to keep his universe whole. Yet while his universe died, he found refuge in Doctor Strange’s psyche, initiating the follow-up series DC/Marvel: All Access. Fisticuffs ensued, but eventually, at Strangefate’s request, Strange recreated the Amalgam Universe as a pocket dimension and sent Strangefate back home.
12 WEAKER: WHAT IF PUNISHER/DOCTOR STRANGE
Though Doctor Strange and the Punisher don’t interact terribly often in the mainline Marvel Universe, they seem to get mashed up in alternate realities relatively often. Though the two are best known for their union during Secret Wars, that wasn’t the first time, they’d been mashed-up. In the Marvel What If…? #24, Wolverine gets bitten by Dracula, kills the evil vampire, and in turn becomes the Lord of Vampires himself. Not content with his power, Wolverine proceeds to turn every hero on Earth into vampires, or kill those who can’t/won’t be changed.
True to his nature, the Punisher is among the last heroes standing. Doctor Strange imbues Frank Castle with his magic, and the newly empowered Punisher goes about killing vampires left and right. Alas, his lack of experience with magic lends him to getting killed by Wolverine after killing Kitty Pryde.
11 STRONGER: DOCTOR STRANGE 2099
Despite the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme being passed on from student to student, it’s uncanny how few Stranges end up being women. That changed with the Doctor Strange of the year 2099. Calling herself “Strange”, the young woman is the world’s Sorcereress Supreme. She’s stronger than nearly any other Strange before or after her, and she secretly shares her body with a demon.
Though she might not have all the experience of Doctor Stephen Strange, this hardly hinders her -- she has enough raw power than it almost doesn’t matter.
Capable of everything from time travel to firing off crazy powerful energy blasts, one of Strange’s greatest advantages is that the demon who lives in her also protects her from major world-shifts. This means she knows if she’s been trapped in an alternate reality, as seen in "Secret Wars", and she won’t be affected by time discrepancies.
10 WEAKER: AGE OF X DOCTOR STRANGE
In the timeline known as Age of X, the world has gone to shambles. After a mutant girl set off fiery explosion that resembled the Phoenix, 600,000 people were killed and Albany, New York was destroyed. As a result, the U.S. government passes anti-mutant legislation and begins hunting and rounding up mutants.
Magneto, a known “terrorist”, liberates scores of mutants and turns downtown New York into his Fortress X. Unwilling to stand for it, the government sends in a bunch of heroes to kill the mutants. Among the heroes on the government’s roster is Doctor Strange. He’s a mutant-hunter for hire and is rather good at his job. In actuality, it’s all a deception as he’s really working for Magneto and teleports mutants to safety once he finds them. This Doctor Strange can’t topple world governments like his mainline self can.
9 STRONGER: DOCTOR STRANGE BRUCE BANNER
Incredible Hulks Annual #1 introduced an alternate reality where Bruce Banner is the Sorcerer Supreme. Over on Earth-11638, the Amazing Spider introduced Bruce Banner to Doctor Stephen Strange. Doctor Strange taught Banner everything he knew until he felt confident enough to leave the planet, allowing Banner to be Sorcerer Supreme. One of Banner’s first acts was to banish the Hulk from himself and cast the rage monster down into Hell.
This wasn’t a fantastic idea, as the Hulk later returned, corrupted by his time in the underworld and was now known as the Infernal Hulk.
He defeated the Infernal Hulk, but at the cost of his life. Still, before he died, Bruce left his physical form so he could explore the astral plane. From there, he also freed the Amazing Spider from Hell and gave him a chance to be a hero as the Ghost Spider.
8 WEAKER: BULLET POINTS DOCTOR STRANGE
A defining element in the life of Doctor Stephen Strange was the loss of his hands. A world-renown brain surgeon, Strange’s inability to perform surgery was soul-crushing to him. When he met the Ancient One, he was given another use for his hands: magic. That said, there are still a few alternate universes where Stephen Strange never acquires the title of Sorcerer Supreme, his path to magic cut short. In the 2006 series Bullet Points, written by J. Michael Straczynski, readers were introduced to an alternate reality.
In this world Steve Rogers never received the Super Soldier serum and thereby never became Captain America. The Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. is not Nick Fury, but Reed Richards. Because he could, Richards fixed Strange, giving him cybernetic hands. This meant that the Ancient One was left as Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme.
7 STRONGER: LOKI AS DOCTOR STRANGE
There have been but a handful of characters to try and take up Doctor Strange’s mantle of Sorcerer Supreme. It’s usually too daunting a task, but not to Loki, the Asgardian God of Mischief. After sneakily taking Strange’s title from under the sorcerer’s nose, Loki undertakes the chore of protecting the Earth.
Initially, it might sounds like a terrible idea to put Loki in charge of anything, much less a planet’s safety, but he actually did a pretty decent job.
Loki being Loki, he wasn’t much for dressing up for the occasion. Rather, he just wore his iconic horned helmet, but also has the Cloak of Levitation hanging off him and occasionally letting it do its own thing. Due to his godly nature, Loki boasts nearly Thor-level physical strength, and already a master at magic, the combination made for a remarkably powerful Sorcerer Supreme.
6 WEAKER: ULTIMATE DOCTOR STRANGE
The Ultimate Marvel Universe is notorious not only for killing off major characters at the drop of a hat, but having its superheroes be far weaker than in the mainline Marvel Universe and Ultimate Doctor Strange is no exception to this rule. Though his origin is practically the same, he ends up marrying Clea and having a son, Stephen Strange Jr. Doctor Strange Senior disappears and Clea raises Stephen Jr. Strange’s former assistant Wong then teaches Strange Jr. the mystic arts. Even so, Strange Jr.’s abilities were unrefined and nowhere near as powerful as they should be.
Because of this, Ultimate Doctor Strange’s most memorable moment occurred during the 2009 event “Ultimatum,” when he suffered one of comics’ most gruesome and undeserved deaths. Killed by Dormammu, Strange’s head literally explodes as the demon enacts his sadistic act.
5 STRONGER: DOCTOR STRANGE(S) OF THE FUTURE
It shouldn’t be terribly surprising, but despite his vast power, Doctor Stephen Strange is not immortal. His role as Sorcerer Supreme, however, is. The title has been carried on for hundreds, if not thousands of years. In different Marvel futures, there’s usually a Doctor Strange of some kind.
In 2014’s 100th Anniversary Special: Avengers readers saw a future incarnation of Avengers face off with a descendant of Mole Man- -- present was the 17th reincarnation of Doctor Strange.
In the 1990s Guardians of the Galaxy series, the alternate future showed a version of the Marvel Universe in the 31st century. In this continuity, Doctor Strange became the new Ancient One and trained Krugarr. Nearly every future version of Doctor Strange seems more powerful than the original, as they all had more centuries more wisdom imparted onto them.
4 WEAKER: DR. ORPHEUS
Though he’s not technically a version of Doctor Strange, nor does he exist in the Marvel Comics Universe, Dr. Orpheus from The Venture Bros TV show is a direct reference to the character. Known for taking the Johnny Quest formula and unabashedly turning it on its head, The Venture Bros takes clever shots at pop culture and is incredibly self-aware. One of the earliest characters on the series was Dr. Orpheus, a necromancer who moved into part of the Venture family’s compound.
Dr. Orpheus was something of a gag character, poking fun at the ridiculousness of magic-based comic heroes. Though his appearance resembles Doctor Strange’s, Orpheus is clueless in protecting the planet from mystical threats. Additionally, Orpheus is a member of the Order of the Triad, a group of supernatural characters. One of them is Jefferson Twilight, a riff on Marvel’s Blade.
3 STRONGER: MORDO DOCTOR STRANGE
Every superhero has a nemesis. For Doctor Strange, Baron Mordo is the hero’s cautionary tale. In 1983, What If...? #40 addressed the question, what if Baron Mordo had become Doctor Strange? In this story, Mordo was enlisted by Nightmare to prevent Strange from becoming a hero. And so, Mordo and Nightmare manipulate the Ancient One into naming Mordo the Sorcerer Supreme. When Strange arrived to train with the Ancient One, he was taught simple meditation techniques and sent on his way.
Strange returned years later, having been plagued by nightmares, and sought Mordo’s help.
Instead, Mordo trapped him in Nightmare’s Dream Dimension. Later, Dormammu and Nightmare fought, the Ancient One died, and Strange meditated his way to freedom. Mordo was a deadlier Sorcerer Supreme than Stephen Strange ever was, but since this is Strange’s story, he somehow accessed unfathomable power and defeated Mordo, Dormammu, and Nightmare.
2 WEAKER: ZOMBIE DOCTOR STRANGE
Doctor Strange is no stranger to battling the unusual and macabre. It comes with the job description of being Sorcerer Supreme and protecting the world against magical threats. Unfortunately, Strange wasn’t lucky when it came to surviving the alternate reality of Marvel Zombies. Thanks to a zombified version of the Sentry, the world’s heroes are turned into superpowered cannibals. While he survived longer than most and helped destroy a dimensional doorway that would’ve let the zombies travel between realities, it wasn’t enough to keep him alive.
Oddly, though nearly every other Marvel Zombie became stronger or deadlier, Zombie Doctor Strange did not. He appeared dumber than ever and spent the majority of his time merely looking into alternate realities to try and find new sources of potential victims.
1 STRONGER: MCU DOCTOR STRANGE
Fans occasionally give the Marvel Cinematic Universe a hard time, what with the heroes and villains being generally weaker than their comic book counterparts. The MCU version of Doctor Strange is another matter altogether. Though his origin is practically as the same as in the source material, he doesn’t suffer from getting his power reduced. In fact, he might even be stronger than the Doctor Strange from the comics.
One of the primary reasons for this is the MCU Strange’s control over time and space.
Thanks to wielding the Infinity Stone of Time, Strange can reverse time, freeze time, and use time in all sorts of creative ways, like to keep coming back to life after Dormammu repeatedly kills him. Additionally, in Thor: Ragnarok, we saw him teleport a being as powerful as Loki into an endless limbo; it was implied he could have kept him there forever.