Doctor Strange Was Actually Too Powerful to Join Marvel’s Civil War

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Doctor Strange’s magical powers could easily win any fight, so Marvel banned him from ever taking part in Civil War – but where did he actually go?

Marvel’s Doctor Strange is one of the most powerful superheroes on Earth – but when the world needed him most, he vanished. The famous Sorcerer Supreme possesses immense and awe-inspiring magical abilities that could easily turn the tide of a single battle, and has single-handedly saved the day on numerous occasions. But in Marvel’s Civil War event, the good doctor was nowhere to be found; exactly where did he go and why?

During an otherwise-routine battle between the New Warriors and a group of supervillains, the villain Nitro exploded, severely damaging a school and killing 600 people, many of whom were students. In the wake of the disaster, the American people are suitably outraged and the government responds with the Superhero Registration Act: a law requiring all heroes to reveal their true identities to the government. Captain America leads a faction of anti-registration superheroes against Iron Man’s pro-registration group, and Marvel’s Civil War event begins.

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Despite the powerful heroes on each side, Doctor Strange takes no side at all; he bows out of the conflagration before it even begins. In New Avengers: Illuminati #1, the titular group (Iron Man, Namor, Black Panther, Black Bolt, Reed Richards and Strange) gathers to discuss the issue. Namor doesn’t care about the outcome – it’s a surface word situation to him – and Doctor Strange disagrees with Stark’s position completely. « It’s wrong. It’s giving in to other peoples’ ignorance and fear. And a lot of our peers will fight for their rights. To the death. » Stunned that Reed Richards agrees with Stark, Strange teleports elsewhere, asking the Illuminati not to contact him further.


Strange clearly would have sided with the anti-registration faction, but perhaps he felt that as the Sorcerer Supreme, his time was best spent protecting the planet and not fighting in a terrestrial affair. During the conflict, Strange secluded himself in the Arctic, communing with the Watcher. When asked his preference regarding an outcome while meditating, Strange simply said « Whichever victory is best for all mankind, my friend. » Strange later came to regret his non-participation in the conflict, perhaps wondering if he could have done more to prevent it in the first place.

The Doylist interpretation, of course, is that Doctor Strange is simply too powerful to join either side, for that side would immediately win. This is also the reason why, narratively speaking, the Hulk and Thor didn’t take part in the fighting either. Doctor Strange’s power is immense, but sometimes it can be a narrative nightmare for writers who want the good doctor in their battles without ending them in seconds.


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