Marvel’s “What If...?” debuted its latest episode on Wednesday, giving us a glimpse into the character Doctor Strange and our first taste of what could happen if things go wrong in the multiverse.

The episode — titled “What If... Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?” — tells the story of what would have happened if Doctor Strange hadn’t severely injured his hands in a car accident. Instead, in this universe, Dr. Stephen Strange’s love interest, Christine (Rachael McAdams) dies in a car accident. From there, Strange still learns the mystic arts and gains all of his Doctor Strange abilities as seen in his “Doctor Strange” film.

But the entire time, this Doctor Strange ponders how he could bring Christine back to life. So begins a journey where Strange tries to gain new magical abilities and do whatever it takes to make sure that Christine comes back.

The Doctor Strange “What If...?” episode could have been its own movie. Seriously. The newest episode could have been its own movie. It was broken down into a 30-minute episode that was still satisfying, revealing and strangely dark. That said, it was impactful enough that you could see the bare bones of a potential feature film.

The general premise of the project has all the makings of a time travel picture. A major character dies and so our hero tries to bring them back to life. From there, Doctor Strange dabbles in the dark arts and attempts to gain back the woman he lost. But as we know from every time travel film ever, things don’t work out the way Strange expects.

That’s the beauty of this project. This exact storyline could have been used for “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” the sequel to the original “Doctor Strange” film. And who knows, maybe the plot was a drafted storyline for the film that was discarded.

The story beautifully tells the journey of one going through great lengths to tackle their grief. It adds a layer of complexity to Doctor Strange. Though it takes place in a different universe, we definitely learn more about Strange as a character, and it adds more understanding of how he acts as a person.

It’s an important story for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, too. The episode ends in a way that reveals how bad things can really get if our heroes don’t fend off the multiverse. It shows the damage that can be done if someone goes to extreme lengths to accomplish their goal.

As the “Spider-Man: No Way Home” trailer shows, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man will be attempting to manipulate time. We know Loki is doing the same thing based on the events of “Loki.” And there’s some pretty good indication that Wanda will seek out other timelines after the events of “WandaVision.”

Something is wrong with Doctor Strange in the new ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ trailer
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With all of these characters seeking out ways to change their lives and alter timelines, the latest “What If...?” episode acts as a warning for what’s to come. It warns us about what could happen if things go too far.

This is why this “What If...?” episode really deserves to be a film. It has had such a remarkable impact on the MCU and the storylines moving forward. It shows us how insane things can get with a multiverse storyline.

There’s a good chance the MCU will talk about the fate of the universe and the multiverse as we continue into Phase Four, if not beyond. We’ll be hearing about the importance of securing the timeline and stopping those who wish to end it. Now, we know how dark things can get. We know what the worst outcome can be.

And that makes “What If... Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?” as essential as any other MCU film.

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