Scarlet Witch vs Doctor Strange: Who Is the Stronger In Comics and MCU?
Doctor Strange and Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch) are the mightiest sorcerers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They were introduced in MCU’s Phase 2 and in the same movie: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). Stephen Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) was only mentioned but had his first solo movie in 2016. Wanda (played by Elizabeth Olsen) and her brother Pietro were first shown in the post-credits scene of that movie. Soon after, she reappeared as a villain-turned-heroine in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).
In the following films, Wanda and Stephen’s trajectory made them the most powerful heroes in the entire MCU. The Avengers’ trajectory against villains like Ultron or Thanos would be very complicated without these two. But which of the sorcerers is more powerful in a magic duel?
Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (2022) tried to answer this question. But the movie ended up provoking more controversy than providing conclusive answers. So let’s take a look at the incredible magical abilities of both sorcerers.
Dr Strange vs Scarlet Witch (Who is Powerful in the MCU?)
Both are extremely powerful, but in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Wanda demonstrates the extent of her powers like never before. So in terms of raw force, she is definitely the more powerful of the two. Stephen, however, benefits from years of training as the Sorcerer Supreme. Let’s review the pros and cons of both to try to find a more definitive answer.
First of all, there are different types of magic in the MCU. Wanda was born with the ability to harness Chaos Magic and, according to veteran witch Agatha Harkness, she is the incarnation of a mythical being called The Scarlet Witch. Doctor Stephen Strange conquered his magical powers as an adult after his brilliant professional career was cut short by a car accident. He was trained in Eldritch Magic, light-based magic utilized by the Masters of the Mystic Arts
Though born a witch, Wanda was unaware of her powers. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, she had her powers augmented by the Mind Stone and learned to deal with them in subsequent films. Strange, on the other hand, wasn’t born with magic powers but had the advantage of being trained by the Ancient One. So, unlike Wanda, he learned quickly how to control his powers and the best way to use them.
While Stephen relies more on enchantments and magical artifacts, Wanda has developed incredible psionic and telekinetic abilities. But their powers are kind of similar. Let’s see:
Wanda can use her psionic and telekinetic powers to manipulate energy, projecting blasts on her enemies, moving and levitating objects, and generating energy force fields for protection. Using his Eldritch Magic, Strange can cast spells to form constructs of energy – weapons, protective shields, and even platforms to walk on. Here we have a tie.
The same telekinetic powers allow Wanda to levitate. Stephen can also fly, but only while using his Cloak of Levitation. So Scarlet Witch has the upper hand in the air.
Wanda can use telekinesis to read minds and manipulate enemies with illusory hypnosis. Strange can do the same things through spell-casting. Another tie.
Both characters also have the power to manipulate reality. In his first movie (Doctor Strange, 2016), Stephen used the Eye of Agamoto to mess with time, changing the past when the villains won. He lost this power during the confrontation with Thanos in Avengers: Endgame (2019). Maximoff, meanwhile, learned how to warp reality. She was even able to create a whole city according to her wishes – Westview, the idealized place she lived in during the TV show WandaVision (2021). She is by far the winner in this category.
Other magical relics give Doctor Strange some perks. Using his Sling Ring, he can open portals that lead to different locations. Stephen has also mastered the ability of astral projection and can separate his spirit from his body. Starting from WandaVision, Maximoff begins to study a spellbook called Darkhold. This new form of black magic makes her a more powerful witch than a Sorcerer Supreme like Strange – a statement made by Agatha Harkness in the TV show.
So if we consider just the number of powers/resources available, Wanda is indisputably more powerful than Doctor Strange in the MCU. But there’s a problem: she is influenced by her emotions. Wanda’s abilities grow as she loses emotional control. Meanwhile, Stephen can keep his cool and draw on his knowledge of spellcasting and strategy.
Another advantage Stephen has over the Scarlet Witch is that Wanda needs extreme concentration while using her powers. If she loses focus while levitating, her powers momentarily cease and she falls. Stephen can always resort to his magic items: in the same example, even unconscious, he will keep flying thanks to the Cloak of Levitation.
In short, Wanda may be the most powerful, but Doctor Strange is more skilled and strategist. Even so, he would hardly be able to defeat his fellow sorceress by himself (something the new film makes very clear). And let’s remember that if Stephen is deprived of his magical artifacts, he wouldn’t be half as powerful as he is.
Wanda Maximoff vs Dr Strange (Who is Powerful in Marvel Comics?)
Wanda Maximoff is arguably more powerful than Doctor Strange in comic books. You just need to briefly analyze her tortuous trajectory during the last decades to reach this conclusion. Although they are relatively new in the movies, both have long trajectories in the comic books. Stephen Strange was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963) and has always been the Supreme Sorcerer. Wanda was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby the following year in X-Men #4 (March 1964), at the time as an enemy of Charles Xavier’s students.
Their personalities, motivations, and even powers changed over time. But Wanda’s trajectory is ridiculously complicated: she went from villain to member of the Avengers, then then a powerful, out-of-control goddess!
In the beginning, Wanda and her brother Pietro (aka Quicksilver) were members of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Both fought the X-Men on several occasions. The Maximoff siblings regenerated the following year (1965) and decided to join the Avengers.
It took two decades to begin transforming Scarlet Witch into a powerful threat – a process similar to the one that turned Jean Gray into the Dark Phoenix. In 1989, John Byrne became responsible for the West Coast Avengers magazine. Within a few months, he destroyed Wanda’s husband, Vision, and make the couple’s children, Tommy and Billy, disappeared. Finally, in Avenger West Coast #55 (February 1990), Byrne turned Wanda into an evil being to fight her colleagues. Everything was resolved in the end. But for the first time in the comics, Scarlet Witch demonstrates some new, incredible powers.
A decade later, in Brian Michael Bendis’ infamous Avengers Disassembled story arc (2004), Wanda suffers a big breakdown. She attacks fellow Avengers and even kills several of them (Vision, Ant-Man, and Hawkeye). The surviving heroes decide to split, something that encourages the creation of the Young Avengers.
Shortly thereafter, in the miniseries House of M (2005, also written by Bendis), the Scarlet Witch warps reality into a new world where mutants are the majority. At the end of this series, there’s another proof of her astonishing powers. Wanda simply changes the world back with only three words (“No More Mutants”), thus eradicating 90% of the mutant population in Marvel Comics!
Recently (2022), the Scarlet Witch has become more powerful than ever by absorbing dark magic from Darkhold book and also the God of Chaos, Chthon. It all happened in the Darkhold mega saga, which began in 2021, and whose unfolding is still unpredictable.
While all this was going on, Stephen Strange remained more or less the same. During his 60 years of comic book activity, he has collected lots of magical artifacts and gained new abilities and powers. Even so, Strange is no more powerful than the “new” Scarlet Witch.
To make matters worse, in 2022 the Supreme Sorcerer was murdered in the miniseries The Death of Doctor Strange. Stephen’s wife Clea has been promoted to his place. Until May 2022, the original Doctor Strange still hasn’t returned from the dead.
Strange Supreme or Scarlet Witch (Who is Powerful Hypothetically)
Even though Scarlet Witch seems indestructible in the MCU and comic books, she would probably be defeated in a confrontation with MCU’s Strange Supreme. This is the only category in which Stephen has a large advantage over her.
This evil alternate version of Doctor Strange appeared in the animated miniseries What If… (2021). In another reality, the good doctor did not lose his hands, but his beloved Christine. In an attempt to alter time and bring her back, Stephen spends centuries killing and absorbing other sorcerers, gods, and ancient beings. The result is a wizard so powerful that he can even fight an alternate Ultron with the Infinity Stones!
A magic duel between Strange Supreme and the Scarlet Witch at the height of her powers would be apocalyptic. But the sum of the powers of all the mystic beings Stephen has absorbed makes him invincible even facing Wanda.
Magic Encounters in the Movies and Comics
The interaction between Wanda and Stephen in the MCU was relatively short. But the battle against Thanos in Avengers: Endgame gave us a good idea of their powers. While colleagues like Thor and Captain America were easily defeated, Wanda faced Thanos toe-to-toe. Using her powers, she destroyed Thanos’ giant sword and then nearly crushed him using his own armor. While Wanda played on the offensive, Doctor Strange preferred a defensive approach: he used magic to multiply himself into several copies to confuse Thanos.
This year, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness finally pitted the two characters against each other in the movies. Wanda was corrupted by the Darkhold spellbook and wanted to find her lost children Tommy and Billy in the Multiverse. For that, she needs the powers of a young girl named America Chavez (played by Xochitl Gomez), who has can travel between alternate universes using interdimensional energy.
The movie gives an idea of Wanda’s amazing powers: she easily eliminates several superheroes that cross her path. These include multiverse versions of Stephen Strange, Charles Xavier, Reed Richards, and even Captain Marvel. It can be said that no one can stop the new Wanda in the MCU.
In the end, after a violent confrontation, Maximoff ends up regretting her actions. She destroys all copies of the Darkhold throughout the Multiverse and (apparently) sacrifices herself. Many fans swear that she was not defeated by Doctor Strange, just decided to claim a tie and take her own life.
In the comic books, Doctor Strange and the Scarlet Witch had a few opportunities to showcase their magical powers against each other. In Avengers Disassembled, Wanda faces colleagues like Iron Man and Captain America. The only person who was able to stop her madness was Doctor Strange. Rather than resorting to brute force, he uses the Eye of Agamotto to put Wanda into a catatonic state. Stephen later admitted that it was very difficult to fight the Scarlet Witch.
They faced each other again in the mega saga Secret Empire (2017). Yeah, that one with an Evil Captain America working for HYDRA. During a massive battle between heroes at the climax, Stephen summons Jane Foster’s Thor to knock out Wanda for good.
Recently (from March 2020 onwards), Strange and Wanda have returned to be friends and also “co-workers” at Strange Academy. It’s a special Hogwarts-style young wizard school featured in the magazine of the same name. Stephen was the founder of the school and served as its principal until his death a few months ago. Wanda acted as one of the teachers.
Do You Believe in Magic?
Stephen Strange and Wanda Maximoff are powerful sorcerers. And when characters reach this level, it’s really hard to create new stories with them. After all, Doctor Strange and the Scarlet Witch can cast spells to do absolutely everything – from resurrecting dead heroes to altering reality.
It’s understandable why the MCU has avoided using Stephen and Wanda’s powers in full mode until this year’s Doctor Strange movie. In the comics, both sorcerers have gone through different retcons. They died and resurrected, had their powers increased and decreased. Recently, both were killed one more time. She was resurrected soon after, but the Supreme Sorcerer remains resting in peace – at least for now.
We may still see Strange and Wanda using their powers, together or against each other. For now, however, the Scarlet Witch is the most powerful sorceress in both Marvel Universes. Unless the terrifying Strange Supreme reappears anytime soon…