Doctor Strange trapped himself and Dormammu in a loop in the Dark Dimension so they could make a deal, but how long was he there?
Warning: The following contains SPOILERS for Doctor Strange 2.
2016’s Doctor Strange saw Stephen Strange saving Earth from being consumed by the Dark Dimension when he made a deal with Dormammu, but for that, he had to be killed over and over again, which was possible by trapping themselves in a time loop – so, how much time did Doctor Strange spend in the Dark Dimension with Dormammu? Exactly how long was Doctor Strange in the time loop? The precise answer to this question remains unknown, and even the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ending offers no specific details about it. That said, judging by how Stephen Strange’s powers and abilities grew and expanded quickly after this fateful encounter with Dormammu, the time he spent there can be loosely estimated. The Marvel Cinematic Universe began to explore other realms with Thor, different planets with Guardians of the Galaxy, and mysterious dimensions with Doctor Strange, expanding this universe of connected movies and making way for the multiverse, which was deeply explored in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Doctor Strange gave the audience a glimpse at some of the dimensions found within the multiverse in the sequence where the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) sent Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) through the multiverse, showing places like the Mandelibus Dimension and the Dark Dimension. The latter was revisited in the final act of the movie, where Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and the Zealots succeeded in bringing the Dark Dimension and Dormammu to Earth, killing Wong (Benedict Wong) in the process. Strange then used the Eye of Agamotto to reverse time and bring Wong back, and as he, Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and Wong prepared to fight, they were interrupted mid-spell, resulting in time being frozen. Kaecilius declared that Dormammu’s arrival couldn’t be stopped and that the Dark Dimension is beyond time, inspiring Strange’s brilliant/insane plan.
Strange headed to the Dark Dimension and took time with him, a concept Dormammu was not familiar with. Strange requested a bargain, and after defending himself, Dormammu killed the sorcerer, who then reappeared and repeated the same words as before. Confused, Dormammu asked if it was an illusion, with Strange explaining that he “brought a little power” from his world, and that power was time. Strange created a loop that trapped him and Dormammu, thus allowing him to be killed by this evil entity over and over again and come back every time. Strange was killed in many different ways, with Dormammu telling him he was going to spend eternity dying in agony, but Strange assured him it was a price worth paying to protect Earth, and that also made him his slave. Dormammu eventually gave up and made a deal with Strange, who then returned to Earth.
Doctor Strange Was In The Dark Dimension Long Enough To Level Up
As time froze on Earth, when Strange returned only a couple of minutes seemed to have passed, but he spent a lot more time in the Dark Dimension. In 2018, Doctor Strange screenwriter Robert C. Cargill explained that Strange spent a lot of time in the Dark Dimension, but that was something they left “intentionally vague with room to address it later”. Cargill confirmed that, while on Earth only a few minutes passed, Strange wasn’t in the other dimension “just a few minutes”, and it was long enough to “gain even more mastery over his powers”. This explains why he was a lot more skilled in Thor: Ragnarok, even though not much time passed between these movies. If Strange was in the Dark Dimension long enough to master his powers, experiment, and learn new tricks, the safest bet is to assume he was there for years. Moreover, although Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness‘ post-credits scene reveals that Doctor Strange’s time loop came with certain repercussions, it doesn’t address anything related to answering how long was Doctor Strange in the Dark Dimension.
Director Scott Derrickson told Empire back in 2016 that there was originally a line in that scene where Strange said they had been “through this a thousand times”, which would have been a good hint at how long he was trapped in the loop. That said, even with that clue, time doesn’t exist in the Dark Dimension and time was frozen on Earth when Strange left. Given the available information on the matter, it’s tricky to calculate the exact time. What’s sure, however, is that Doctor Strange spent at least several years in the Dark Dimension.
Dormammu’s Marvel Comics Daughter Clea Explained: Why Is She Important?
Alongside Doctor Strange 2’s Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Mr. Fantastic (John Krasinski), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness also introduces the character of Clea (Charlize Theron), who is actually Dormammu’s niece in the comics. According to Marvel comic book lore, Clea was born in the Dark Dimension. Unlike much of her family, Clea is a kind and stalwart person, and she actually helps Doctor Strange fight Dormammu in the comic canon.
As Clea and Doctor Strange head for the Dark Dimension to deal with the incursion in Doctor Strange 2’s post-credit scene, it would seem that the futures of the two characters in the MCU will be similarly intertwined. It’s highly possible that Doctor Strange 3‘s story will be focused on the blood ties between Dormammu and Clea. Moreover, because of Clea’s true nature, she could provide more information on how time works in the Dark Dimension. Clea’s insight, combined with Doctor Strange‘s newly acquired third eye, could finally determine how long was Doctor Strange in the time loop with Dormammu.
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