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Why Eternals Calls Doctor Strange A Wizard And Not A Sorcerer

Warning: This post contains SPOILERS for Eternals.

In Marvel's Eternals, Kit Harington's Dane Whitman reveals that Doctor Strange is famous, but he calls the Avenger a "wizard" and not a sorcerer, and he's probably right. In the MCU, Strange is one of The Ancient One's secretive Masters of the Mystic Arts and if his trajectory follows the comics accurately, he is likely to become the Sorcerer Supreme like Tilda Swinton's all-powerful mentor. But that clearly doesn't stop him being called a wizard.

Elsewhere in the MCU, it's evident that different magic users go by different titles. Wanda Maximoff was referred to as a "miracle" at first, before being branded with the Scarlet Witch monicker in WandaVision, for instance. Loki, meanwhile, is invariably known as a god, and refers to himself as a trickster, but not a more general term like a magician or a wizard. Ebony Maw's magic seems to be presented as part of his alien biology, in the absence of any explanation. The sorcerers, contrastingly, appear to be classified as such not because of their role, but because of their qualifications and affiliation. Even Mordo distances himself from the term when he turns away from the Ancient One's teachings and vows to destroy the Sorcerers.

Related: Eternals: Every MCU Easter Egg & Reference

But "wizard" is a new term in the MCU, in contrast, apart from one notable instance, in Falcon & The Winter Soldier when Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson says the Avengers always fight “The Big Three – androids, aliens, wizards" and when Bucky says there are no wizards, Sam says “A sorcerer is a wizard without a hat.” On the surface, when Harington's Dane Whitman calls Strange a "wizard", he's calling back to the same perception, but it could be that Whitman has two other reasons for doing so. Firstly, Whitman may well know that the true definition of a wizard is someone who learns their magical craft, while a sorcerer is born with magical ability. Strictly speaking, Doctor Strange fits the former better than the latter. And then there's the fact that Whitman's backstory means he has knowledge of wizardry thanks to his bloodline's association with Merlin of Arthurian Legend.

It could well be that Whitman's "wizard" comment is a betrayal of his past in a movie that otherwise drops the Ebony Blade reveal out of nowhere. Eternals' after-credits scene establishes the through-line from Whitman back to Sir Percy of Scandia, the first Black Knight, who was recruited by Merlin himself. Clearly aware of his family history, but seemingly estranged from it - as hinted by his comment about a fall out with his uncle - Whitman would know full-well the history of Merlin and his magic. That would make his casual reference to Strange as a wizard far more contextually sound. He's not misunderstanding Strange as much as putting him in a frame of reference he actually understands.

Either way, Eternals is actually right to call Doctor Strange a wizard, and not because of Sam Wilson's definition of what a real wizard is. Strange may have had latent genetic markers for magical proficiency, as Scarlet Witch was revealed to, but the point of Strange's origin story is that he applied himself and overcame an apparent lack of initial aptitude. So the correct way to think of his should be as a magical scholar, as Eternals casually calls him, which is perhaps why he's proved himself capable of huge mistakes, like his multiverse opening spell disaster in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Next: Eternals' Cliffhanger Ending Explained

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