It's a pretty major plot point that the Dark Dimension is timeless. Strange alters this with his time loop spell after he arrives.

But when you observe the Dark Dimension before he casts that spell, time is still quite evidently in effect. The planets(?) move, for instance, Strange moves through the dimension, and Dormammu himself does not seem very put off by this at all, seeming to progress through time forwards as standard.

I'm further confused by Strange's statements during the time loop. He tells Dormammu that everybody on Earth will live, even though when he returns, they are still in the same moment and are clearly being affected by the loop. It seems to me that they won't live at all, since they are frozen in time.

Furthermore, why does Dormammu bother with Kaecilius at all? Shouldn't he know, since he is timeless, that he won't succeed?

  • 5
    Perhaps what you saw as "movement" in the Dark Dimension was just an optical illusion caused by a brain that doesn't know how to interpret a timeless universe? Feb 24, 2017 at 21:08
  • 2
    "timeless" doesn't mean "frozen".
    – Tim
    Mar 20, 2017 at 20:28

2 Answers 2


You are assuming that the Dark Dimension needs time to pass in order for there to be something we consider "movement". Given that the Dark Dimension is a violation of the basic laws of physics, attempting to apply what we "know" about time to it is fruitless.

The exact quote from the movie, I believe, is that Dormammu's dimension exists "outside" of time. All that means is that our 4-dimensional concept of space/time is not how things work in his dimension. It's entirely possible -- likely, even -- that some other fundamental principle of that dimension allows things like thought and movement and the concepts of "before" and "after" to exist that, in our world, are a by-product of the passage of time.

Ultimately, we can only go by what the movie tells us. It's possible that the sorcerers were just wrong in their description of the Dark Dimension, but aside from that possibility, we have to accept that the Dark Dimension has motion and thought and cause/effect all without having any concept of "time".

  • 1
    The very definition of motion is a change in space over time, which requires time. Not necessarily our time, but some kind of time.
    – DeadMG
    Feb 25, 2017 at 14:00
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    who are you to tell Dormammu how to define motion in a universe that doesn't follow any of our natural laws?
    – KutuluMike
    Feb 25, 2017 at 14:47
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    Yeah! You dare speak thus to the Dread Dormammu!
    – Adamant
    Mar 20, 2017 at 22:19

Part of it is probably the lack of the writer's understanding of the idea of timelessness, part of it the human inability to comprehend the idea of change without time.

When Dormammu chooses to interact with our universe, by definition he must interact with time. He has some way to deal with the inherent contradiction.

Life does move on for the rest of the world while Dr. Strange is in the time loop. It just happens that because the whole fight existed in a timelooped instance from the point of view of the rest of the world, the amount of time that moved forward was either 0, or close enough as to make no difference... however that is just because the time loop was attached to that moment for Dr. Strange. The time of the human universe was unaffected and proceeded at the normal rate for itself. Dr. Strange just left and came back at the same moment from that frame of reference. It wasn't time travel exactly, it was just walking back out of the same moment he left.

  • If the Dark Dimension can change without time, then any humans brought into it can change into a dead state without time, so there's no eternal life. I mean, the whole idea of "eternity" doesn't even make sense without time, since it's all about things being true for all time.
    – DeadMG
    Feb 25, 2017 at 13:57

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