Tony Stark, the lead of the 2008 epic Iron Man, functioned as a spark for several of the most important events in “The Infinity Saga,” just as he did in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He was the MCU’s anchor in many respects, but he also had a negative side, with an ego that not only blinded him to imminent harm but deliberately manufactured emerging risks.
Stark’s self-sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame repented for his prior failings and ultimately save the universe from Thanos, bringing Marvel’s Phase 3 to an end. Since then, speculation has centered on who would succeed Stark as the MCU’s central figure. Given his recent rise in popularity, Doctor Strange seems to be the most plausible choice at the present. Unfortunately, that may not be a positive factor, because Stephen Strange shares many of Tony Stark’s problems but possesses a vastly greater amount of power.
Strange and Stark come from similar origins and have comparable personalities. Both are privileged children who have been given unrestricted access to their amazing (but non-superhuman) abilities. Both were used to being the masters of their particular domains, and they became heroes after moral reckonings: Strange, a talented surgeon, lost his ability to use his hands while Stark personally witnessed how his company’s missiles were utilized. Both watched as what they cherished most in the world was destroyed and decided to do better.
However, neither man’s ego was affected as a consequence, and their relative irresponsibility resulted in a series of catastrophes. Stark did this by turning away the people he meant to bring around, most memorably in Captain America: Civil War when his conflict with Steve Rogers split the Avengers. Strange, for his part, apparently on the heat of the moment organized the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, with multiverse-altering consequences. In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, he appears to be doing much the same thing, and with the multiverse’s debut set to affect the rest of Phase 4, his interference could result in incalculable dangers.
The fact that both men are actively or passively responsible for the development of several criminals is particularly telling. Ultron was Stark’s great Frankensteinian disaster, but Whiplash, Vulture, and Mysterio all arose from his efforts and exploited his equipment, while Aldrich Killian in Iron Man 3 accomplishes what he does because Stark ignored him. It’s not a good track record, and it’s just getting worse as Stark technology will continue to spread throughout the MCU.
Strange, on the other hand, appears to be making up for the lost time in that regard. Five of Spider-most Man’s dangerous opponents crossed dimensions and entered the MCU as a result of No Way Home, and if Peter Parker hadn’t made the sacrifice he did, there may have been many more. Mordo hasn’t vanished, and with Moon Knight on the way, the MCU’s magical side is expanding and becoming more threatening with each new endeavor. Strange’s confident demeanor and unwavering commitment to preserving reality at all costs may easily convert him into a spell-casting counterpart of Stark.
The possibility of Strange Supreme — the character from Marvel’s What If…? – is perhaps the most striking hint. In Multiverse of Madness, he formally entered the mainstream MCU by destroying his own world in an attempt to fix what he couldn’t. He’s a menace on par with Ultron, yet he’s nothing if he doesn’t make one bad decision. Stark’s errors cost the MCU money, but he eventually made amends. However, if Strange follows in his footsteps, the results could be even more catastrophic.