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The What If...? Episode You Need To Watch Before Spider-Man: No Way Home

Contains spoilers for "Spider-Man: No Way Home"

If you haven't seen "Spider-Man: No Way Home" yet — or heard about its second post-credits scene — then there's a particular episode of the animated Disney+ series "What If...?" for you to watch that's going to make it all so much sweeter. 

Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) plays a prominent role throughout Tom Holland's third Spidey movie and he's also getting ready for his second outing as an MCU leading man with "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," which is currently scheduled to be released in May 2022. In "No Way Home," Strange is tasked with trying to help people forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man by casting a very specific magic spell. However, as seen in the trailers, things don't go so well for the Doctor and company. 

In the aforementioned episode of "What If...?," a similar issue arises that deeply affects the animated version of Doctor Strange, and considering how things go down in the post-credits scene of "No Way Home," it looks as though Marvel plans to tell a similar story with the live-action Strange. Here's the episode to watch and how it connects to "No Way Home." 

What If...? Episode 4 sees the rise of Strange Supreme

Airing on September 1, 2021, "What If... Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?" is the perfect Marvel appetizer for fans to snack on before digging into "Spider-Man: No Way Home."  

Voted as one of the best "What If...?" installments by IMDB users, the episode features a grieving Doctor Strange attempting to bring back his deceased girlfriend Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) by using the Eye of Agamotto to repeatedly turn back time. Palmer, who is killed in a car crash, is unable to be saved due to her death being an "absolute point" in time. However, Cumberbatch's Master of Mystic Arts refuses to let go and instead turns to the power of the Dark Dimension for help. There, Strange begins to absorb the energy of powerful beings from across the multiverse until he finally becomes the evil Strange Supreme. Another more benevolent version of Cumberbatch's character eventually sprouts up — thanks to the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) — and tries to stop Strange Supreme to no avail. The evil Doctor absorbs his counterpart and successfully brings back his girlfriend Dr. Palmer, but also tears apart reality and destroys the entire universe in the process. 

The reason this is all-important heading into "No Way Home" is because of how the MCU version of Doctor Strange ultimately acts and behaves in the new movie. Not only does he knowingly cast a spell that leads to a tear in reality, but there's also that jarring post-credits scene at the end, which features an evil version of Doctor Strange that appears strikingly similar to his "What If...?" counterpart. That is all the more reason to check out Episode 4.