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The Haunting Reality Of Doctor Strange's 14,000,605 Futures

Doctor Strange is nothing if not diligent.

In a Q&A with fans on Twitter on Wired's Tech Support video series, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo revealed a haunting truth about the Sorcerer Supreme's future-viewing party, which enabled him to pinpoint the one scenario in which the Avengers could triumph over Thanos.

You'll remember that during Infinity War, the good Doctor used the Time Stone to view all of the possible outcomes of the coming conflict with Thanos, who was intent on gathering all of the Infinity Stones so that he might wipe out half of all life in the universe. Strange told Tony Stark that he had viewed 14,000,605 possible futures — and that out of all of those, there was only one in which the Avengers emerged victorious.

It turns out, however, that Strange was doing a little more than simply viewing. The revelation came in response to a fairly innocuous question from Twitter user SimplyMarrisa, who asked: "When Doctor Strange is seeing all the scenarios for how the war could end, does he see it as like a montage or a movie? How do you as the creators see this happening in his brain?"

The Russos' shocking response spelled out the fact that Strange's sojourn through all possible futures wasn't actually taking place "in his brain" at all. "Strange has to exert an immense amount of energy to go into this state," the director said. "And the amount of time that he's in this state, as we know from the history in his own standalone film, Doctor Strange, he could be in that state for who knows how long. So, it could have taken Strange an immensely long time to actually review all these scenarios."

"He has to physically live them," Joe Russo chimed in, "and then die in each of them, and right before he dies, he has to reset it, as we saw at the end of Doctor Strange, and do it again. And take copious notes each time he does it."

We're going to go ahead and admit that we had not considered this possibility, and opine that it is absolutely insane. As the Russos pointed out, though, it makes sense considering Strange's history of creative problem solving through dying, over and over again. At the conclusion of Doctor Strange, he was able to vanquish Dormammu, ruler of the Dark Dimension, by bringing the Time Stone into said dimension (in which time does not exist). He then created a time loop, allowing the nefarious entity to dispatch him time and again in myriad highly unpleasant ways.

Being completely unfamiliar with the concept of time, it took Dormammu awhile to realize that the loop was unbreakable and inescapable — and once it did, it had no choice but to agree to leave Strange's universe alone forever in exchange for the good doctor breaking said loop.

Well, we don't know how many times Strange bit the dust to protect the universe in that instance, but we now know that the total number of times he's willingly died for the greater good number significantly more than 14,000,605. If you ever had any doubts as to whether Doctor Strange is a total badass, those doubts should now be put to bed.

Think about it like this: Tony Stark knew that in order to vanquish Thanos, he would have to die. When Bruce Banner used the Infinity Stones (housed in the Stark Gauntlet) to return all of the dusted heroes to life, he was quite clear on the fact that he was almost certainly the only one capable of surviving such an action.

Yet, when the moment came — the crucial moment in all of those millions of futures, a fact which Strange imparted to Stark with a single upraised finger — Iron Man didn't hesitate. He snapped away Thanos and all of his minions, mortally wounding himself in the process. He gave his life to save the universe — a noble and heroic action by any measure, and one which ensures that he'll forever be recognized as the Marvel Cinematic Universe's greatest hero.

But... Stark only had to die the one time. 

We'll see if Strange continues with his so-far unbeaten strategy of repeatedly dying in the interest of the greater good when the sequel to his solo flick, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, hits theaters on May 7, 2021.