When Does Doctor Strange Take Place?

For a film that introduces the Time Stone, it should come as no surprise that Doctor Strange has a confusing timeline, but there are two major misconceptions about the film that we’ll discuss in this video, and why they’re wrong. This is part 14 of a 20 part video series discussing when each film in the MCU takes place. So when does Doctor Strange actually take place?

“Doctor.” “Mr. Doctor.” “It’s Strange.” “Maybe. Who am I to judge?”

We can only presume that the scenes that open the film, with Kaecilius stealing the Dormammu ritual, occur at some point in 2016, simply because of the next few scenes taking place thusly. Getting ready for a party, we see several dates that set the stage for the rest of the film. Here we see a trophy plaque dated to 2016, and his watch reads February 1st, 2016. While the watch features later in the film, it’s always seen as broken and unreadable. On the way to said party, however, Stephen gets a phone call from a colleague named Billy who wants to know if he’d like to work on an Air Force Colonel who’s got a lower spinal injury due to experimental armor. This was almost certainly supposed to be Rhodey, whose back breaks in Civil War, but the event doesn’t occur for another two months, so they added in the 35 year old line to compensate, as Rhodey is 47 by that time. For an adequate estimation of when that film occurs, see part 13. Stephen crashes his car and destroys his hands during that time.

Because Stephen couldn’t shave during this time period, we can presume that 2-3 months pass, but more conservatively 4 months, before he visits Jonathan Pangborn who supposedly was healed miraculously. Another month passes, before his trip to Kamar-Taj, wherein he began his studies under the Ancient One. It’s unknown how much time actually passes while at Kamar-Taj, but we can guess about 3 to 5 months, considering the massive change in his personality, and the amount that he learns in that time period. All things considered, he learns very quickly, as Wong seems quite impressed by his speed. “You finished all of this?”

The film’s third act likely occurs sometime between September and October, 2016. The mid and end credits scenes likely occur during 2017, as one is literally a scene from Thor: Ragnarok, which we discuss in part 17 of this series, and in the other Mordo claims to have been away for many months.

97.6% of the runtime takes place in 2016, and the remaining 2.4% occur in 2017.

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