Could Doctor Strange Solve The Winter Soldier Problem After ‘Captain America: Civil War?’

In amongst all the DC trailer excitement coming out of the San Diego Comic Con this past weekend you’d be forgiven for overlooking , which also dropped on Saturday. If you did miss it then worry not, we’ve got you covered. Check it out below!

There’s a lot of interesting things in this new trailer, from the revelation that the Ancient One has a whole school of students to . But the trailer also gives us another good look at Strange’s mystical amulet — better known as the Eye of Agamotto.

The Eye of Agamotto as it appears in the MCU [Marvel/Disney]
The Eye of Agamotto as it appears in the MCU [Marvel/Disney]

The Eye of Agamotto is a trademark of Strange’s from the comic books, a mystical eye which resides within an amulet he wears around his neck. Described as a physical manifestation of the wisdom of the godlike Agamotto — one of the three Vishanti deities from which Strange draws his power — the Eye is typically used to “illuminate” scenarios.

Strange uses it to dispel illusions, read minds, identify and track physical and spectral beings, weaken evil creatures, see into the past, create portals between dimensions and more, depending on who’s writing him. It also holds up his cape, as Spider-Man points out.

Had enough of your s*** Spidey [Marvel Comics]

Had enough of your s*** Spidey [Marvel Comics]

As for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s take on the Eye, Kevin Feige has described it as being able to manipulate time, falling in with Doctor Strange‘s reality-warping aesthetic. So, the big question here is:

Is The Eye An Infinity Stone?

The possibility of , and it’s a pretty damn convincing theory. In case you haven’t been keeping count we’re currently two stones shy of the full roster, which shall be coming into play around the time Avengers: Infinity War — Part One explodes onto the big screen in 2018.

The Eye of Agamotto [Marvel/Disney]
The Eye of Agamotto [Marvel/Disney]

When the casing of the Eye of Agamotto is open, we can quite clearly see that it contains a glowing green stone. The MCU thus far has been all about powerful stones in various forms, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that the MCU Eye is in fact one of them.

We’re still waiting to see the Time and the Soul Stones appearing in the MCU and — though Feige’s comments seem to suggest Strange’s stone would be the Time Stone — if it turned out to be the Soul Stone there could be some interesting implications for another character we’ve met several times already.

The Winter Soldier Problem

Leave Bucky alone! [Marvel/Disney]

Captain America: Civil War left James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan) — a.k.a. The Winter Soldier — stuck back in a tube again with a missing arm and a fractured mind.

The tragic brainwashed soldier wrapped in a trauma allegory that is Bucky chose to have himself put back on ice, as he can’t trust himself not to be overcome and lash out against his friends again (don’t say “freight car” whatever you do). Enlisting the help of foe-turned-ally T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Bucky went down for the long nap of his own volition — freezing himself until a cure could be found to block the Winter Soldier activation which still lurks in his psyche.

That’s a “knife” trick (heh) [Marvel/Disney]

We can certainly expect to see Cap’s best pal re-appearing before long in the MCU, especially if Bucky does after Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) goes down for the long dirt nap. But how will he overcome this Winter Soldier problem? Years of torture and HYDRA brainwashing isn’t something you can just magic away — or is it?

Maybe, just maybe, Bucky needs a Doctor.

Can Doctor Strange Help Bucky?

That cape swish could cure any man [Marvel/Disney]

This theory hinges on the Eye of Agamotto being the Soul Stone, so keep that in mind as we put on our wild speculation hats. The Soul Stone — or Soul Gem as it’s known in the comics — has a lot to do with the intricacies of the soul (unsurprisingly). It’s able to steal and trap souls, as well as the powers of other beings, and it’s commonly associated with rebirth, as the High Evolutionary gifts it to him when he is reborn as Adam Warlock.

The specific properties of the gems/stones aren’t usually faithfully adapted into the MCU, but even taking the basis of the Soul Gem from the comics it wouldn’t be stretch to say that the Soul Stone could be used to manipulate an individual’s soul — and by extension their mental state. For example, curing someone of their brainwashing.

Bucky goes through the mental reset process [Marvel/Disney]
Bucky goes through the mental reset process [Marvel/Disney]

And even without the use of the Stone, Strange has often dabbled in similar mental healing processes in the comics. A good example occurs during the recent run of Invincible Iron Man, when Tony Stark/Iron Man seeks out Strange’s assistance in combating Madam Masque, whose mental state had been warped by a demon attempting to use her as a conduit to enter our world. As he tells Tony, he can “fix her up metaphysically”.

So, could he could also fix Bucky metaphysically?

Strange promises to help Madam Masque ['Invincible Iron Man' Issue 5]

Strange promises to help Madam Masque [‘Invincible Iron Man’ Issue 5]

As a more tongue-in-cheek side-note, it’s worth noting that Doctor Strange wasn’t just any old surgeon either — he was a neurosurgeon. As in, brain surgery? Come on guys, this writes itself.

It was also Bucky’s titular movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in which Doctor Strange was first foreshadowed. He wasn’t the Sorcerer Supreme then though as he didn’t have his powers — according to Kevin Feige who said so way back in 2014 — but there’s still another tenuous connection there.

A sneaky Doctor Strange reference in 'The Winter Soldier' [Marvel/Disney]

A sneaky Doctor Strange reference in ‘The Winter Soldier’ [Marvel/Disney]

This would also provide a way to bring Doctor Strange into line with the rest of the Avengers. If Steve Rogers learns of a newly emerged neurosurgeon who dabbles in the mystic arts he could seek out Strange in order to help Bucky. Because if past history has taught us anything, it’s that Steve will do anything to help his best friend.

So when will we see Bucky again? If the upcoming Black Panther is set in the present day it’s likely he’ll make an appearance due to his current housing in Wakanda, so could Strange be brought in around then to bring him back to reality before Infinity War? It’s one of the more likely reasons as things currently stand — but as we well know, with Marvel everything can change in an instant.

How do you think the Winter Soldier problem will be resolved? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

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Thinking too much about comic books since 1992. Tweet me your favorite superheros @katgrngr