There’s a lot to enjoy about Spider-Man: No Way Home, but the most awkward part of the entire movie has always been how two franchises of Spider-Men were brought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Doctor Strange casually trying to cast a spell to make the world forget Peter Parker is Spidey, only to get distracted, screw it up, and tear some major holes in the multiverse. Cumberbatch has a justification for the ex-Sorcerer Supreme’s actions, but... it’s not a particularly good one.
Speaking with the Hollywood Reporter on all things Strange, Cumberbatch’s explanation is as follows:
“He’s a human being, and I think it was a very human error. He saw Peter as a fellow foot soldier and then as a teenager going through a very formative experience of not being able to be his true self because of being exposed, and having lost a mentor, [Strange] decided to step in with a gesture of pretty good intention.
“But people seemed to think, ‘Well, it’s a very cavalier thing to do.’ I think the spell, on its own, might have been all right. Everyone forgets that Peter interrupts the spell so many times, and that’s what corrupted it. That’s what lets it in. Peter, through the ability he has with his powers, affects the spell with his words. It’s not really Strange’s mistake. He’s right to want to help Peter. What kind of superhero would he be if he didn’t want to help another superhero?”
People make mistakes, even Sorcerers Supreme, sure. And the actor is right that superheroes would and should want to help their fellow superheroes, especially if they were both blipped out of existence together, even if noted asshole Strange doesn’t really seem to have any real affection for Peter when the latter stops by to ask for help in No Way Home. But no one is saying otherwise!
The problem is that Wong told him the magic was too dangerous, Strange did it anyway, and then he somehow wasn’t competent enough to prevent a chatty teenager from screwing up the spell? He couldn’t have teleported Peter away, or magicked his mouth shut, or something? Can Doctor Strange be defeated merely by talking to him while he’s trying to cast magic? Well, in No Way Home, yes.
So the spell was done very cavalierly, it was half-assed, and then Strange left Peter to clean up the mess. Even if Cumberbatch is right and Strange had the noblest of reasons underneath his dickish demeanor, he still managed to be an asshole and bad at his job. That’s the problem. But at least it led to a highly entertaining movie.
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