Doctor Strange can teleport. There's no question of this. Thus, by teleporting - he is theoretically capable of going FTL. Now sending messages FTL could cause causality paradoxes - i.e. an event where the effect happens before the cause.

Could Doctor Strange theoretically use this principle to change the outcome of an event or damage the timeline (as he could with the Infinity Stone) using only his teleportation? If he can, are there any examples of him doing this?

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    I'm not sure of your logic, here. Teleportation doesn't, necessarily, imply paradox via FTL. Traveling at a rate exceeding light has been hypothesized to result (in some works) in time travel, but I don't know that we've ever seen Strange doing that. In the movie, it looks like he opened portals to his destination; in effect creating a 'warp' or 'wormhole' from one place to another, and never traveling the space in between. He traveled a distance greater than light could in the same time, but his velocity was never more than a few feet/second. Unless we've seen his teleportation result in
    – K-H-W
    Jul 5, 2018 at 20:35
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    temporal movement, I don't know that it's valid to say his teleportation is resulting in him exceeding the speed of light. He's just bypassing it; the same way travel thru a Wormholes is posited to do. He could do wonderful tricks with teleporting to somewhere that a message has just been sent to at light speed, and anticipating the message.. but he wouldn't actually time travel, doing so -- he is just bypassing lightspeed by using another path, an idea explored in many fictional universes.
    – K-H-W
    Jul 5, 2018 at 20:36
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    Its not the velocity that matters. Its the cause and effect of events happening before they can be observed relative to observers. FTL messages in above examples can be replaced with instant message transfer and the outcome of the examples would remain the same. See reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/2k8tri/… for a more simplified example with less math.
    – Erudaki
    Jul 5, 2018 at 20:39
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    Sorry, but it IS the velocity; that's inherent in special relativity, and they don't seem to understand that. They are talking about observational paradoxes, and causality but they are hypothesizing FTL transmission / movement / etc. resulting in Time Travel -- without the movement, it doesn't happen. A portal from here to a planet 100 light years away might let me see 100 years ago on earth (as the light is just reaching there), but it doesn't engender a paradox. That said, this is PROBABLY a better topic for Physics.SE; the people having that debate on Reddit seem less than expert.
    – K-H-W
    Jul 5, 2018 at 20:51
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    @K-H-W, Erudaki, ex-physicist here. The short version is that in order to have FTL travel without time travel the universe needs to have a preferred reference frame of some sort. In the real world, we have no reason to believe that is true, but it's not really all that big a problem in a fictional universe ... in the particular context of Dr. Strange's portals, I'd be more worried about General Relativity. By all rights, there ought to be a sort of gravitational shockwave that would have uncertain but probably fairly destructive effects. :-) Jul 5, 2018 at 21:49

3 Answers 3


Ignoring the actual FTL aspect of the question:

In the comics, Doctor Strange has been known to travel in time in multiple stories. In particular:

  • In Doctor Strange #17, August 1976, Doctor Strange and Clea travel through time to celebrate the United States' bicentennial:

    enter image description here enter image description here

  • In Doctor Strange #48, October 1981 (and continuing at least through issue #53), Doctor Strange travelled into the past, crossing paths with Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos during World War II (Note that Doctor Strange and S.H.I.E.L.D. shared Strange Tales for a few years in the mid-1960s, and that this story ran through issues 50 and 51, thus covering an anniversary issue), and (later) the Fantastic Four and Pharaoh Rama-Tut (crossing over with Fantastic Four #19, published years earlier).

Neither of these stories goes into much detail about the possibility of damaging the timeline. As I recall, the impression we are given follows the school of thought that, if you travel in the past, whatever you did is already a part of your history, and thus won't change the past.

That said, there's nothing preventing someone from writing a story where his time travel puts the timeline at risk - just that, as best I can recall, such a story hasn't been written yet. It makes sense, really - that's a really solid SF concept, and Strange is the Sorceror Supreme, not the Scientist Supreme.

OK, to touch on the FTL bit a bit: Strange's ability to move from one place to another has generally been portrayed as something that bypasses the distance (in SF terms, like a wormhole), rather than something that transverses the distance faster than light.

  • There's little scientifically solid about time travel, let alone time travel that changes the present. It's arguably much more sorcery than not.
    – Adamant
    Jul 5, 2018 at 23:46
  • How do those time travel visuals compare with the visuals for when he's using magic to travel through space? Jul 6, 2018 at 1:05
  • I am aware Doctor Strange can manipulate time, its shown in the MCU and in the comics quite often. Im specifically asking if he is capable of traversing the distance required to do it solely with his teleportation (Likely teleporting at least 2 light minutes away, (between planets or space ships about 1/3rd the distance from earth to sun away from eachother), and if there's any explicit examples of him doing this.
    – Erudaki
    Jul 6, 2018 at 3:22
  • @HarryJohnston - Dude, it's Gene Colan. In my personal opinion, most of what he draws is kind of sketchy and mushy - that could be time travel, teleportation, or getting blown around by a rain storm.
    – RDFozz
    Jul 6, 2018 at 3:41

No, there are no MCU examples of Dr. Strange, or anyone else, travelling through time by any means other than the Time Gem.

The other part of the question is inherently speculative, but since MCU characters routinely travel faster than light (whether via instant transportation or in starships) and none of them have ever shown any concern about time paradoxes, dilation, or other ill effects, and given that starships do not appear to need any special mechanisms for FTL travel (such as "warp cores" or "hyperspace jumps") and also since instantaneous travel does not destroy the universe I conclude that one of the many differences between our universe and the MCU is that the MCU is non-relativistic.

Considering that we're talking about a universe with immortals, sorcery, and incredible super-materials like vibranium, the fact that it seems to be based on Newtonian mechanics should really be the least of our worries, scientifically speaking.

Mandatory TV Tropes Link. Beware!


Focusing on the science part of it, he could not cause a paradox by moving faster than light and here's why: Faster than light only gives observational time travel. In other words, if you instantly go a light year from earth, you are seeing light that emitted a year ago and thus are witnessing events from a year ago. This is actually used in Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard where they destroy the Psychlo's planet and watch it a few months later with an extremely remote camera positioned just for that purpose. Now if you pop off a year away and pop back, you haven't travelled back in time. Your reference is exactly how it was. You can't change the past from a light year away although you're observationally a year in the past, but you can't see a year in the past from zero distance.

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    No, it's not anything like that simple. Travelling faster than light really is, by default, the same as time travel - not just observationally, but in the sense of "I can return to my point of origin before I left". That's because in special relativity the word "instantaneous" no longer has any objective meaning ("there is no preferred reference frame"). You can imagine laws of physics that allow FTL but don't allow time travel, but unless you're throwing away special relativity entirely you have to make a specific effort to do so. Jul 6, 2018 at 1:01
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    ... e.g., if you have some kind of hyperspace, then the relationship between hyperspace and real space can be presumed to define a preferred reference frame, which makes sure that no matter what route you take you never arrive back home before you left. Jul 6, 2018 at 1:04
  • If you look at the reddit post in one of my comments someone sums up the effects of this quite nicely. TLDR : You have person A B and O. A & B are in a glass box thats moving some direction at 1/2 Lightspeed (LS for short) A and B stand on opposite ends, and it takes light 50 seconds to go from the center of the box to the ends. From their perspective when that light turns on, it hits both of them at the same time. Now if B sends A a FTL message as soon as they are lit, A recieves that message as soon as they see the light. No problems yet. Now lets assume person O is a stationary observer.
    – Erudaki
    Jul 6, 2018 at 3:04
  • O watches A & B go by, now light always moves at the same speed relative to observers, O sees the light hit A. But wait, A is moving at 1/2 light speed. This means that O sees A lit up at ~25 seconds. assuming the light turned on at 0 seconds. When A is hit by the light A is also getting a message from B. From Os perspective B wont send the message for ~50 more seconds. So. T=0 is when the light turns on, T=25 O sees A receive the message, T=50 B sees the light and Sends a message, T=75 O sees B send the message. O has ~25 seconds to send a FTL message to B and stop him from sending a message
    – Erudaki
    Jul 6, 2018 at 3:14
  • i do understand special relativity and it just does not work that way. Special relativity doesn't actually allow anything to go faster than the speed of light in the first place. The math would imply you are going backwards in time but it's been shown to be observational only. It's called "relativity" because it's all relative to an arbitrary point in space. Since light is the "ultimate speed" you don't affect the speed of it ever. All you do is affect its energy level.
    – John Lord
    Jul 6, 2018 at 16:13

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