The Doctor Strange mid-credits scene might have tricked us all

With so much mind-bending wizardry on display throughout Marvel's Doctor Strange, it shouldn't be too surprising to discover that moviegoers might have been led astray along the way to its big finish … and beyond. Now that we've all had some time (wink) to reflect on what went down in the story, there's one scene in particular—the mid-credits clip—that might be a particular head-scratcher.

On the surface, it seems very clear what was happening in the moment, but those who've answered the Ancient One's call to tap into their deeper thought processes have postulated that there may have been some cinematic sorcery at play. Here's why some people think the Doctor Strange mid-credits scene might have tricked us all (and why some argue it might not actually be the case).

What we thought we saw

The scene involves just two characters in a very brief exchange: Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) meets with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) over drinks—in Thor's case, a tall mug of beer that the good Doctor continues to magically refill.

Strange shows an interest in Thor's decision to bring Loki (unseen, but played by Tom Hiddleston in the prior MCU installments) to New York in search of their father, Odin. Thor's a potential threat to the locals—as his prior presence in the city well proved—and since Strange has now assumed command of the New York Sanctum, it's his job to monitor and rid his sector of such problems. With that in mind, he volunteers to help Thor on his mission so the Asgardians will faster take their leave of the Big Apple—and Earth altogether, for that matter.

It certainly raised some continuity questions about what happened after the events of Thor: The Dark World to get to this point, but those queries might've been easily shrugged off as to be answered in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok or, eventually, Avengers: Infinity War.

Not so fast, though

As some theorists have pointed out, though, there was something a little unsettling about Thor's physical presence in the mid-credits clip. His countenance was a little more, erm, low-key than usual (a hooded sweatshirt, really?), and combining that with a few other events and revelations in prior MCU films, some think there's a chance we might not have really even been looking at Odin's golden-haired boy at all.

In Thor: The Dark World, Loki was last seen occupying the throne of Asgard disguised as Odin, while as far as Thor was concerned, his nefarious bro was dead. At the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor embarked on a quest to find out who was behind the resurfacing of so many Infinity Stones, with the confidence that his father still governed over his homestead while Loki was no more. So, how could it have possibly come to this?

As Thor explains in the Doctor Strange mid-credits scene, he and Loki are supposedly in New York in search of Odin—whom Thor last knew to be planted firmly on his throne. Absent some kind of stunning sibling reconciliation of the two brothers, it wouldn't make much sense for Thor and Loki to be tag-teaming, particularly given that in order for Thor to discover Loki's actually alive—and go out looking for Odin—he'd presumably need to find out that Loki had been impersonating Odin in the first place. What was even happening here?

Here's the new theory

The idea now is that Loki, who's already proven himself to be a master of disguise, was actually the one sitting in that chair. Now that Thor's out of the way on his own mini-mission, it's theoretically easy for Loki to impersonate him in the hopes of getting his hands on the Eye of Agamotto (otherwise known as the Time Stone) in service of his real boss: Thanos.

Chances are, Loki has probably already been able to gain access to the Space Stone-slash-Tesseract thanks to donning his dad's duds in Thor: The Dark World, so the Eye would certainly be a key next addition to Thanos' collection. Pulling the wool over Strange's eyes would be a simple way, in theory, to acquire the Time Stone since he's so new to this game and might not understand the full scope of Loki's deception skills. Of course, it wouldn't be that easy in practice, but the setup might still make sense.

But there's reason to dispel it

While the theory is interesting, there's just as much reason to dismiss it. For starters, the scene indicates that Doctor Strange was the one to reach out to Thor to discuss the Asgardians' presence in New York, so it would be reasonable to infer that Strange could tell the difference between Thor and Loki. Sure, we didn't get a full scope of Strange's powers in his first cinematic appearance, but it's hard to believe that the Sorcerer Supreme-to-be would be that easily fooled, even at this early stage in his career.

Most importantly, perhaps, is the fact that there have been some Thor 3 set photos that have shown Odin (Anthony Hopkins) appearing as a now-homeless exile living on the streets of New York, with both Thor and Loki lurking around in search of him. Why? Well, one working idea is that Loki may have realized he bit off a little more than he could chew when he usurped his adoptive daddy for the Asgardian crown, once Hela (Cate Blanchett's character) and her fire demons bring their death-dealing into the fold. So, he'll turn to Thor to help restore Odin to power and protect Asgard from harm.

That would certainly align with the mid-credits scene's claim that there was some "family drama" that brought Thor and Loki back to NYC in search of Odin, but, hey, the "Loki in Disguise" idea is certainly still fun to consider. We should know more when Thor: Ragnarok arrives in theaters on Nov. 3, 2017.