The Doctor Strange film has been host to a number of timeline misconceptions since before it even hit theaters. Some believed the line referencing Stephen Strange in Captain America: The Winter Soldier was an indication that Doctor Strange was already Sorcerer Supreme by 2014. He wasn’t. Others made the connection that the Air Force Colonel “who crushed their lower spine” was a reference to War Machine’s injuries in Captain America: Civil War. It wasn’t. And most recently, thanks to Avengers: Endgame, we’ve seen many fans take to believing the climax of Doctor Strange takes place in 2017.
Endgame insisted that, when the Ancient One claimed Bruce was 5 years too early in 2012, the Eye of Agamotto and the Time Stone would be present in New York in 2017. This naturally led many to assume that either Doctor Strange’s timeline placement had been retconned from 2016, or that we misunderstood it in the first place. Neither is true. In fact? Nothing changed about the timeline whatsoever. At Geekritique, we’ve long held that Stephen’s journey begins in February 2016, per the date on his watch, and ends in present day – present day being relative to when the film dropped, so November 2016.
Thanks to Twitter user @PeekWil asking the film’s writer, C. Robert Cargill, to clarify the dating issues, we have a more concrete answer.
This lines up with the original estimate of when Stephen’s journey began and ended in Doctor Strange. We can rationalize that the opening scene, a fight between the Ancient One and Kaecilius occurred in Fall 2015, as per comments made by director Scott Derrickson on the Empire Film Podcast. He claims “I think it goes roughly from late Fall to late Fall.” The film picks up early in the following year, and this estimate is now backed up by writer Cargill. So where does the 2017 date come into the picture?
Well if we take stock of the final moments of the film, we see that Strange leaves the Eye of Agamotto in Kamar-Taj after his fight with Kaecilius. This is still Fall 2016. It isn’t until the mid-credits scene, which occurs nearly a year later during Thor: Ragnarok’s runtime, that we actually see Stephen Strange wearing the Eye of Agamotto in the Sanctum Sanctorum in New York. This is the 2017 that the Ancient One was referring to in Endgame.
It’s always nice when things line up neatly. And it’s good to finally have some confirmation that Doctor Strange’s climax occurs in 2016, as opposed to the widely believed misconception of it happening in 2017. It’s a small issue, but a huge win for fictional chronologists everywhere.