Doctor Strange’s Tragic Family History Explained (& Why It Was Cut)


Doctor Strange had a key part of Stephen’s family history cut, but Doctor Strange 2 has finally managed to bring it into the MCU, albeit briefly.

Warning: Contains spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

After being cut from the original Doctor Strange film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has finally told the tragic story of Stephen Strange’s sister, Donna. The original film was meant to explore that aspect of Strange’s past, but it was ultimately cut from the final product. It wasn’t clear if the films would ever find a way to bring in the backstory of the comics, but thanks to Multiverse of Madness, it’s finally become canon to the MCU.

Doctor Strange followed renowned neurosurgeon Stephen Strange. He goes on a journey to find the mysterious Ancient One with a view to recovering from a car crash that left him unable to keep operating. There, he is drawn into the world of the mystic arts, becoming a powerful sorcerer who saves the world from the ruler of the Dark Dimension, Dormammu. Like many other Marvel films, Doctor Strange was an origin story as it told how Stephen Strange became a sorcerer but didn’t show anything about his life before he became a neurosurgeon.


Related: Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness Ending Explained (In Detail)

The original film included a scene showing a key moment in Stephen Strange’s life, and one that would have introduced his sister, Donna, but was ultimately cut from the final product. However, she returned to Strange’s backstory at a pivotal moment in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness via a conversation between two Strange variants.

Doctor Strange Deleted Scene Showed Donna Strange’s Death

Doctor Strange Donna Strange comics

The first Doctor Strange movie cut a deleted scene that saw Donna Strange die in Stephen’s past. In the comics, Stephen Strange has two younger siblings: Donna and Victor. Victor died in a car accident, and overcome with guilt, Strange attempted to resurrect him with a spell from the Book of the Vishanti, which ended up reviving him as a vampire, with Victor then taking on the mantle of Baron Blood. Donna, on the other hand, had her own tragic story. She was a very important part of Stephen’s life as it was through her that he discovered his interest in medicine; one day, when she was nine years old, she had an accident while roller skating and Stephen aided her. Years later, when she was 17, she had a cramp while swimming, and though Stephen tried to help her, she drowned. Stephen felt responsible for her death, and never forgave himself for it.

Doctor Strange originally included Donna, played by Lulu Wilson of The Haunting of Hill House fame, and the actress actually shot a couple of scenes including Donna’s death. All of Wilson’s scenes ended up being cut, however. Doctor Strange direct Scott Derrickson explained that Donna’s death was a “great scene” but didn’t fit within the context of the narrative. He also hoped for it to be included in the home release of the film, but that didn’t happen, either. Donna’s death would have added a lot to Stephen Strange’s journey, as it explains why he’s so focused on being the best doctor there can be and the reason he gets frustrated so easily.

Doctor Strange 2 Returned Donna To Stephen’s Backstory

The Broken Multiverse Becomes Real In Doctor Strange 2 Theater Poster

Doctor Strange never managed to use Donna in its story, but Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness finally made it happen. Near the end of the film, Strange and the Christine Palmer of Earth-838 are sent by Wanda to the reality of Sinister Strange, a Doctor Strange variant corrupted by the Darkhold. Strange needed Sinister Strange’s help to get back to Earth-616 and stop Wanda from killing America. To get Sinister Strange to believe that they were the same person, Strange told him something that only he would know about: the death of their sister, Donna.

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The details about Donna’s death in Multiverse of Madness differ slightly from the comics. As previously discussed, Donna died in the comics because she drowned while swimming in a lake whereas in the film, Strange says that she died when she fell through the ice on a frozen lake they were playing on. Regardless, Donna still dies from drowning, and MCU’s Doctor Strange‘s inability to save her is part of what pushed him to become a doctor.

Donna’s death also ties into Strange’s general arc for Multiverse of Madness. Throughout the film, Strange is repeatedly called out on his inability to “put down the knife” and let someone else make the big decisions. The previous MCU movies have showcased Strange’s controlling tendencies, but the added context of Donna’s death could mean that part of it stems from him never wanting to feel as powerless as he did when she died. Donna’s death clearly had a tremendous effect on Strange’s life, and with any luck, a future Doctor Strange film will go further into their relationship and how her death affected him.

More: Doctor Strange 2’s Post-Credits Scenes Explained (They’re Both Important)

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