Albus Dumbledore Is Doctor Strange
Albus Dumbledore is a frustrating character for many Harry Potter fans. His characteristic wisdom and humility, which many characters look up to and benefit from throughout the series, is seen by many as a facade. Rather than protect Harry Potter, he manipulates Harry into carrying out his plans and walking to his own death at the hands of Voldemort. Many fans resent Dumbledore because of his treatment of Harry and other characters. I would argue that Dumbledore, far from being cruel or selfish, was a good man who, on account of his power and the knowledge he possessed, had to make several difficult choices in order to save the wizarding world and defeat evil. Dumbledore reminds me of another character with immense power and foresight who had to make an unthinkable decision in extraordinary circumstances: Doctor Strange.
The Doctor Strange I am referring to is the character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Dumbledore and the MCU’s Doctor Strange play very similar roles in their respective stories and have similar character traits that allow them to do so. They both start out as arrogant characters, confident in their own superiority, until a traumatic experience causes them to begin to question that sense of superiority and ultimately grow. Doctor Strange is a brilliant, talented neurosurgeon while Dumbledore is an exceptionally gifted Hogwarts graduate. Doctor Strange’s arrogance results in a devastating accident that leaves his hands severely injured and his career ruined. Dumbledore’s hunger for power and desperation to be understood leads him to an intense relationship with Gellert Grindelwald, which ends with the death of his sister and marks the beginning of Grindelwald’s decades-long campaign of terror.
Doctor Strange tries every known medical intervention to fix his hands, while Dumbledore avoids Grindelwald for almost 50 years, both of them refusing to fully confront the consequences of their arrogance. Eventually, Strange journeys to Kamar-Taj and is humbled by the discovery that the universe is far greater and more complex than what he knows. Upon learning to wield the Time Stone, Strange becomes the only person who is capable of defeating Dormammu, who appears as a dark, horrific version of Strange himself. Dumbledore eventually defeats Grindelwald, who is in many ways his darker alter ego, and wins the allegiance of the Elder Wand, which he vows to wield humbly rather than in pursuit of power. Strange and Dumbledore are both called into service of something greater than themselves, Strange to guard the Time Stone and eventually battle with Thanos, and Dumbledore to protect the wizarding world from first Grindelwald, then Voldemort.
In doing their duty to their respective universes, Dumbledore and Doctor Strange were burdened with important knowledge about how the future would unfold, and as a result, were asked to make unconscionable choices. Doctor Strange looked into multiple futures and saw only one in which decisive victory was guaranteed, so he gave up the Time Stone to Thanos. Dumbledore was the only person who knew the entirety of Trelawney’s prophecy and Harry’s ultimate fate when Lily and James were killed, so he entrusted Harry to Petunia Dursley in order to provide for him the strongest possible magical protection until he was ready to face Voldemort. The consequences of these choices are devastating; Harry endured years of abuse in the Dursley home and came close to death multiple times, and Doctor Strange’s decision caused the death of half the universe.
People in both fandoms question the necessity of these actions. Did Doctor Strange really only see one possible outcome out of infinite possible outcomes? Did Dumbledore really need to leave Harry with an abusive family? I would argue that Dumbledore and Doctor Strange only act when they can be absolutely certain of the consequences. The initial plan that Doctor Strange and his allies tried could have worked in defeating Thanos, but there were too many variables and things that could go wrong, so only giving up the Time Stone would guarantee victory. It was not Dumbledore’s doing that Harry was implicated by prophecy or that Voldemort would not stop hunting him until inevitably they confronted each other. There are certainly various methods of magical protection he could have employed, but only having Petunia, Harry’s last blood relation, willingly take him in would provide the strongest possible protection against Voldemort. Both characters had to make quick decisions in extraordinary circumstances and there was no room for error or doubt in either situation.
Neither Dumbledore nor Doctor Strange is the main character of his respective franchise, but both have a huge burden placed on them by the main characters. They are both looked to for guidance and they both have immense influence over the outcomes of their stories and the fates of the heroes involved. Both characters approach the complex tasks set before them thoughtfully and with humility and place the end goal and the greater good above their own immediate desires. In Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and beyond, Dumbledore will continue to develop these qualities, which will ultimately set him apart from Gellert Grindelwald.