In the discussion of Zola's Algorithm, Agent Sitwell specifically mentions Bruce Banner and Stephen Strange as persons of interest. Obviously Cap knows Bruce Banner, and (a good portion of) the fanbase knows who Stephen Strange is: the guy who eventually becomes Dr. Strange, Sorcerer Supreme. Soon after this, it was officially announced that there was a Dr. Strange movie in the works as part of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Since the Dr. Strange movie will (presumably) take place after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the hero Dr. Strange, Sorcerer Supreme does not exist yet. And yet Agent Sitwell name-drops the guy right alongside one of Captain America's companions, like he's someone Captain America (or possibly The Falcon) should know by name.

Is there any reason why they should? Who is Stephen Strange before he becomes a superhero?

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    A prominent doctor? Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 16:58
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    I wouldn't be surprised if they made him a tv medical celebrity, like Dr Oz.
    – Boelabaal
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 11:20
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    They probably just saw his name and thought “Hmmm, something about this guy seems unusual. Odd. Out-of-the-ordinary. Different. Curious. Peculiar. Weird. Irregular. Uncommon. We should keep an eye on him. (Also several huge airborne guns.)” Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 12:04
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    Related: When is Doctor Strange actually set?
    – TARS
    Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 11:37

3 Answers 3


As implied by the scene, at the time of TWS, he really is just a person with the potential to become a threat to Hydra later on.

Kevin Feige recently confirmed this:

"He is very well-known as a surgeon," Feige said during a recent visit to the set of Doctor Strange. "He has got various awards and plaques you're going to see over there; he attends various galas, might be driving at one point in this movie. He has name recognition and a talent and certain Hydra computers identified him as somebody that could cause trouble for their agendas."

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    Turns out this is the correct answer. Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 12:29

It's been widely reported that Ant-Man will be Marvel's last "origin story," with all future franchises starting with their heroes fully-developed. In fact, this was reported with specific mention of the Doctor Strange movie:

"Marvel's new thing is no more origin stories. So Doctor Strange's movie no longer has an origin. It begins in media res. It's got Doctor Strange all ready [sic] established as The Sorcerer Supreme. It's a totally new script [...] without any of the previous stuff. They're not even touching the previous script."

So presumably by the time of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Stephen Strange has ALREADY become "Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme," and thus is on Hydra's radar.

As for why Sitwell would mention him specifically: given Captain America's position as a high-ranking SHIELD agent (and presumably a specialist in "enhanced people"), along with Black Widow's position as "that SHIELD chick who knows everything anyway", it would make sense that one or both of them would have been briefed on a living sorcerer, and thus would recognize the name.

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    and, to be fair, Ant-Man's Scott Lang's origin story: from what we know, Hank Pym has already been Ant-Man by the time the movie starts.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 17:12
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    I'm just happy they've finished origin stories. Man I hate them. First 1/4 of the movie is always crap.
    – Daft
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 22:33
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    This interview with Kevin Fiege has him talking about the way that Zola's algorithm works, and why his name appearing does not necessarily mean he is already "powered". Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 7:50
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    “Doctor Strange's movie no longer has an origin. It begins in media res. It's got Doctor Strange all ready [sic] established as The Sorcerer Supreme. It's a totally new script [...] without any of the previous stuff.” — Guess they wrote an even newer script before they started filming! Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 12:29
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    This appears to have been wrong
    – Goose
    Commented Nov 5, 2016 at 21:17

Although he may not yet be The Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Stephen Strange is a very highly-skilled surgeon in almost every incarnation of the character, therefore making it very likely that his name would be known not only to S.H.I.E.L.D., but the public in general. Also, S.H.I.E.L.D. would probably have massive interests in a guy willing to travel all the way to Tibet for 'treatment' (I put treatment in parentheses due to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s massive trust issues).

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    I'm not sure about that, though. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any famous modern-day surgeons I could name, except Dr. Oz. (I didn't think he was actually a doctor, but I just looked him up and apparently he is a genuine surgeon. But either way, practicing surgery is not what he's famous for.) Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 22:36
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    I think the larger issue is, why would Sitwell mention him if he was just some doctor? He mentioned two people in the entire world by name, and one of them was an Avenger. The other MUST have been special for some reason.
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 23:23

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