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At the end of Doctor Strange, the doctor

makes a bargain with Dormammu, turning off the infinite time loop in exchange for leaving the Earth alone, and never coming back.

When I saw this, I immediately wondered, what holds Dormammu to this bargain? Once

the time loop is turned off,

why not kill Strange and company? He is no longer threatened at that point.

For a graphic representation of this question, see the YouTube clip, below:


NB: this is similar to, but not the same as Is there another way out for Dormammu? -- that question asked about before the bargain; I am asking about after the bargain.

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    Many supernatural entities are bound to the deals they make. It’s a common feature in fantasy. – Adamant Mar 15 '17 at 22:44
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    Probably fear that if he goes back on his bargain, Strange (or someone else on Earth) has the ability to trap him again, this time for eternity. – Valorum Mar 15 '17 at 22:45
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    Well, there is this info about a similar thing from the Marvel wiki: “Before the gathered Lords, Strange forced Dormammu’s vow to menace Earth no further even by proxy, cementing the Dread One’s humiliation. However, Dormammu struck a parting blow by extradimensionally banishing Clea, and then manipulating fellow Nether-Lord Tazza into attacking the sorcerer.” And also: “Indebted to Strange for his help, Dormammu felt compelled to end the fight, and Strange made him vow never to threaten the Earth dimension again.” I would have to find the sources to show that Dormammu keeps his word. – Adamant Mar 15 '17 at 22:48
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    It certainly feels right, @Adamant; I agree with you on that. I'd still like something canonical, if possible. (Also, a different but related question: does Strange know this to be true at the beginning, when he goes to strike this bargain? Otherwise it's a pretty stupid idea) – Shokhet Mar 15 '17 at 22:53
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    @Shokhet I have no idea. I bet Dormammu has no idea either. Remember, he was surprised and incapacitated by the trap. It's also said that he comes from (is?) a dimension with no time. So why would you think that Dormammu would know of the limits of the Eye of Agamotto, which he has never encountered before, or even understand how time really works? What he does know is that Strange is willing and able to trap him forever, and that is enough. – J Doe Mar 16 '17 at 0:24
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Probably some supernatural bond

This promise that Dormammu makes (not to attack Earth directly) is taken straight from the comic universe, though the context is different.

enter image description here

In the comics, Dormammu has a rigid morality. According to Strange:

STRANGE: He is evil, true…but only by our human standards. According to his own lights, he has his own moral code!

Whether there is something supernatural to this is unclear. It seems very likely, though. Other media (not canon to the comics or movies, naturally) do imply as much. For example, the Infernal Promise card from Marvel’s War of Heroes card game.

Mortal! Do not take lightly the oaths of Dread Dormammu! There is power in the promises of beings such as myself! I will honor any agreement between us! But a simple misstep on your part might undo our arrangement! And when that happens, Dormammu will owe you no such thing as mercy!

More generally, supernatural beings are often depicted as being forced to keep their word: Faeries not lying, Greek gods taking oaths of the River Styx, deals with the Devil.

Would Strange know this, though? Probably. He has been studying magic for some time, and probably knows the rules that bind entities such as Dormammu. Even if he doesn’t, can we be sure he’d really be willing to be stuck in a loop for all eternity? Perhaps he’s simply taking a chance, and hoping Dormammu keeps his promise (as he does in the comics).

Then, too, Strange still has the Time Gem. If Dormammu tries again, it’s quite possible that Strange would just put him back in the loop. That would serve as a strong deterrent, even if Dormammu is not magically bound to his promise.

  • 6
    So the answer is basically "Dormammu is an inter-dimensional super entity of his word"? – DisturbedNeo Mar 16 '17 at 13:45

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