For the rest of the film, Doctor Strange attempts to protect America’s powers from getting into Wanda’s hands, moving through different universes in an attempt to elude and thwart the powerful witch.
All the while, he’s encountering alternate realities of himself. He gets to see first hand who he became based on the different decisions he made in that universe. Essentially, Scarlet Witch encounters the same, as she sees the life she’s always wanted in her various alternate realities.
A key element of the movie is Scarlet Witch’s motivation for taking America’s powers. Wanda longs to be with her lost children. (The existence of her children is a story in itself, based on the Disney+ series WandaVision.) In her current reality, she doesn’t get to be a mother to her two boys. Her fictionalized family had become the one thing in life to bring her happiness. So she’s willing to destroy the lives of others and even entire universes in order to care for her children. Talk about the heart of a mother.
In the case of both Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch, they are longing for life to be different. This is seen through the many versions of Strange as he travels through the multiverse and encounters stories of himself—stories about a man who was never quite content with the power he had already amassed. It’s also seen in the actions of Scarlet Witch, as she will stop at nothing to mother her children. Neither of them were truly happy with the reality they were living in.
Wrapped in the strange elements of horror, sorcery, and mysticism, there is a very real aspect of this movie we can all empathize with: the longing for our lives to look differently.
Accepting Your Reality And Being Faithful In It
The concept of happiness is often thought of as childish or trivial. But I don’t think that’s how God intended it to be.
In the very beginning of Genesis, God describes creation as good and people as very good. Life wasn’t designed to be something we didn’t enjoy. Of course, Christians look forward to the day when all of creation and life will be redeemed. But if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s hard to always hold the promises to come to the forefront of our hearts when what we are seeing before us is less than spectacular.
When the Scarlet Witch tried to force the reality she so longed for, the result was pain and death. Throughout the film, she kept reiterating that she wasn’t a bad person: she’s a mother. In the process, Wanda became a person she didn’t want to be.
I understand for all of the Marvel fans out there that this is how it had to go for the tragic character. But Wanda is a dramatic representation of what we can see happen in our own lives. If we begin to force the reality we always foresaw, then we can become a person we never intended to become. There are very real and personal consequences for this, and we can hurt others in the process.
When King Saul heard he would no longer be king, he became a completely different person. The reality he wanted was the one where he was king of Israel. That wasn’t how it worked out, and he began to hurt everyone around him in an attempt to hold on to the reality he wanted. 1 Samuel 18-26 depicts the unraveling of Saul and how he began to make decisions that literally killed others, while also killing the person he once was.
So what do we do with the parts of life where expectations aren’t just unmet, but are truly areas of lack that bring deep pain? How do we deal with the weight of present realities that seemingly suck the life right out of us?
Doctor Strange had the advantage of seeing alternate versions of himself, which gave him insight into how to be happy with his present reality. Of course, we don’t have that opportunity. But I do think Scripture points us to something similar.