The Disney+ series, which aired its first season last summer, introduced Marvel fans to the concept of “variants” by bringing multiple versions of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to life on-screen. Now this year’s Doctor Strange sequel promises to do the same for several characters, with variants of Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) all expected to appear in Multiverse of Madness.
A recent TV spot for the film even gave MCU fans their first look at an interesting new Doctor Strange variant known only as “Defender Strange.” Played by Benedict Cumberbatch, the Defender Strange variant sports a very different costume and haircut than his prime reality self, and he appears to have an important interaction with America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) at one point.
Here’s what you should know about Defender Strange, including the Marvel Comics run that inspired his look in Multiverse of Madness.
Who is Defender Strange?
In the comics, the Defenders are a group of superpowered individuals brought together by Doctor Strange to help fend off various powerful and extra-dimensional threats. Originally comprised of Strange, The Hulk, and Namor, the group has evolved since its initial formation and has counted characters like the Silver Surfer, Valkyrie, Hawkeye, Nighthawk, Luke Cage, Daredevil, and many others as members over the years.
In the 2010s, the Defenders comics were taken over by Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson, and throughout the resulting run of stories fans were surprised to see the Sorcerer Supreme don a completely new outfit. Reimagining the character’s typically blue and red costume, Fraction and Dodson gave the Sorcerer Supreme a red and black ensemble that is very similar to the one worn by Defender Strange in Multiverse of Madness.
Unfortunately, it’s unclear what role Defender Strange will play in the upcoming MCU film, which means there’s no way of knowing just how influenced by Fraction and Dodson’s Defenders comics the character will actually be in Multiverse of Madness. For all we know, it’s possible the variant’s connection to the comics may end with his outfit.
The Inverse Analysis — Defender Strange is one of three versions of Stephen Strange that we already know will be in Multiverse of Madness. The film is also set to bring back the prime reality version of the character as well as a dark variant of Strange that could very well be Doctor Strange Supreme from What If…? Season 1.
Knowing Marvel Studios, there’s a high chance that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will ultimately feature even more variants of its hero. Whether any of the film’s other variants strike quite as immediate of an impression as Defender Strange, however, seems unlikely.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on May 6, 2022.