Warning: Contains SPOILERS for Marvel’s What If…? episode 4.
One of the split timelines in Marvel’s What If…? episode 4 continues its course without the looming presence of Thanos — where is he while Doctor Strange Supreme becomes increasingly corrupted? Doctor Strange’s insistence on undoing Christine Palmer’s death in What If…? episode 4 leads him to turn into an evil sorcerer powerful enough to make his universe collapse. As the evil “Strange Supreme”, he manages to affect the flow of time in a manner never seen before, with the timeline splitting the moment he first decides to tinker with the Time Stone. But if Strange Supreme spends centuries isolated absorbing other creatures, what happens with Strange’s role in the battle against Thanos?
Doctor Strange plays a crucial part both in Thanos’ victory in Avengers: Infinity War and in his defeat in Avengers: Endgame. Without Strange, Thanos wouldn’t be able to collect the Time Stone, but the Avengers also wouldn’t be able to reach the one future where the Time Heist succeeds and Iron Man sacrifices himself to snap Thanos away. These events would definitely change in Strange Supreme’s timeline, but not necessarily for the worse.
The final battle between the two versions of Doctor Strange in What If…? episode 4 happens in the timeline that hasn’t progressed past the point where the corrupted sorcerer begins time-traveling back to Christine Palmer’s death. Hence, the consequences of Strange being absent while Thanos collects the Infinity Stones aren’t reflected in this universe. Similarly, only Strange Supreme and O’Bengh are shown in the timeline where Strange secludes himself for centuries, so what has happened to the rest of the world can’t be verified. However, the fact that Strange never loses possession of the Time Stone in the latter suggests the Mad Titan was never able to complete the Infinity Gauntlet.
Thanos would still be incredibly powerful without the power of all six Infinity Stones, but he wouldn’t be able to make half of all life in the universe vanish instantly. Although it’s a challenge, the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy would still be able to kill the Mad Titan. Perhaps they would have much better odds than Doctor Strange’s “one in 14,000,605” scenario now that Thanos can’t perform the snap and destroy the Infinity Stones afterward. What’s for certain is that the heroes would be spared from the world-changing consequences of the Blip.
One question that arises is where exactly the temple of Cagliostro is located. If Thanos could destroy Xandar effortlessly in order to obtain the Power Stone, it wouldn’t have been hard to scourge the Earth and ravage anything in his wake until he reached the temple and confronted Strange Supreme. He, like plenty of other beings who may be interested in the Time Stone, had plenty of time to do so, after all. Marvel’s What If…? episode 4 continues episode 2’s trend of diminishing Thanos’ threat in the MCU. It also explores little about Strange Supreme’s split timeline, but barring the neglected Sanctum Sanctorum, his part of the universe seemed to have been fine until he destroyed it.
Marvel’s What If…? releases new episodes Wednesdays on Disney+.