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Everything We Know About The Doctor Strange Villain

We won't be seeing Marvel's Doctor Strange until November 4, and apart from Benedict Cumberbatch being cast in the title role, we know almost nothing about the evils he'll be fighting—or at least we didn't until recently. Images of Mads Mikkelsen have emerged on Twitter, revealing the unusual appearance of the villain he's playing. Marvel is trying to keep his identity under wraps, but fans are speculating like crazy. What do we know, and who can this bad guy be?

Who Can It Be Now?

Mikkelsen's character is a long-haired pale dude in a brown tunic and wizardy boots. All of Doctor Strange's villains are either demons or other wizards, and shape-shifting and possession are pretty standard tricks for all of these guys, so his appearance really might mean next to nothing. Mikkelsen's makeup seems to depict a purple-skinned character who is living inside the cracking skin of a human host, and it's creepy as heck, even without fancy special effects. We also know that two other actors were spotted wearing the same effects, pointing to a possible evil trio. Director Scott Derrickson wrapped up the day by posting a picture of himself with the Strange volume Don't Pay the Ferryman. What does it all mean?



Fans seem pretty sure that this villain is Dormammu, one of Strange's main arch-nemeses, and the ruler of an alternate demonic dimension. Marvel isn't always one to stick too close to canon when it comes to how they interpret their movie villains (Iron Man 3's version of the Mandarin, for example), but Dormammu is usually an energy creature of blackness and flame whose head is constantly on fire. Strange and Marvel's heroes have had dozens of critical encounters with the villain, so his presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is almost unavoidable. Plus, he just got a new action figure. Odds: 1 in 4.


Marvel magic gets a bit complicated, but Doctor Strange draws his power from the Vishanti—a trio of magical beings who are generally kind to humanity, but occasionally start problems on Earth because magic is continuously corrupted. The amulet that Strange wears is actually an artifact used by Agamotto, who was the first Sorcerer Supreme and is now one of the Vishanti. He can easily change his appearance and is generally benevolent, but has been known to attack Earth when he feels the current Sorcerer Supreme isn't doing their job correctly—and Earth hasn't been doing too hot lately. Thanks, Thanos and Ultron. And could the Eye of Agamotto actually be an Infinity Stone? Odds: 1 in 10.


Chthon is described as being one of the Elder Gods, who were the first gods of Earth, according to Marvel canon. Brother to the life-giving Gaea, Chthon becomes a god of death and the underworld after discovering the power of black magic. Fearing for his life, Chthon records all of his knowledge on the pages of an indestructible book known as Darkhold and escapes to another dimension. Chthon occasionally returns to influence the lives of countless heroes and villains, from Spider-Woman to Scarlet Witch. He's bad news, and another of Doctor Strange's primary villains. Odds: 1 in 30.


While the hierarchy of Marvel's Hell can be terribly confusing, Mephisto is essentially Satan. Whether or not he's an aspect of The Big S or just the Satan of the Marvel dimension is a bit ambiguous, but he's the biggest demonic entity that the Avengers and their pals generally deal with. Mephisto doesn't come to Earth too often, preferring to manipulate things Loki-style from his throne, but he's pretty much the only other demonic character that would make sense to introduce if Marvel really wants to thrill fans. Plus, Mads Mikkelsen would make an amazing Mephisto, and he's on the first page of Don't Pay the Ferryman. Odds: 1 in 25.

Modred the Mystic

If you're looking for visual similarity, Modred the Mystic and Mikkelsen are pretty close—and if you're looking for a connection to Chthon and the Darkhold, that's there too. Chthon once possessed and used Modred as a vessel to mess stuff up on Earth, so the magical creature living within a human host idea would definitely work here. He also has complete knowledge of everything in the Darkhold, which is kind of like the evil companion to Doctor Strange's good Book of the Vishanti. As far as Marvel's tendency towards matched villains goes, Modred seems like a sure thing. Odds: 1 in 5.


The Ancient One is the character who trains Doctor Strange in the mystic arts, and will be played by Tilda Swinton. Baron Mordo, who studies alongside Strange, attempts to sap the Ancient One's power until Strange stops him, setting off a lifelong rivalry between the two. Also important is Kaluu, a sorcerer who turned to evil after studying alongside the Ancient One roughly 500 years before the events in Doctor Strange. Much like the struggle between Strange and Mordo, the Ancient One and Kaluu are arch-nemeses, and Kaluu has been known to come back for revenge. Odds: 1 in 20.

Who Else?

There are hundreds of demons, great and small, who populate the Marvel Universe and are entangled with all aspects of Marvel's heroes—the Octessence, the Fear Lords, and the Six-Fingered Hand, just to name a few. Marvel's own encyclopedia also lists 319 magic users in canon. Keeping Mikkelsen's character secret means that it's a villain we'd recognize, so until someone in production slips, we'll keep playing the odds. It could be just about anyone under that Mikkelsen-shaped mask.