After all, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sorcerer Supreme is pretty renowned in the MCU for being level-headed and quite literally futureproofing any major mistakes, as shown by his one-in-14,000,605 gambit in Avengers: Infinity War.
That makes his decision to go against Wong’s advice and try and wipe out the world’s collective memory of Spider-Man’s secret identity all the more troubling. Throw in a cheeky wink and a sinister voiceover from Strange during the teaser where he snarls "Be careful what you wish for, Parker" and it’s got fans theorizing that something is seriously amiss.
One of the most prevalent is that Mephisto (the devilish Marvel demon who was long rumored to appear in WandaVision) is involved somehow. According to some, he's either controlling Strange or masquerading as him.
The clues are there: one moment in the trailer has a poster with the words "Devil in disguise" on it, while others have pointed to the snow-covered Sanctum Sanctorum being a none-too-subtle nod towards Hell freezing over.
CONSPIRACY TIMEThe devil is in the details. Strange acting very out of character with his magic. Surrounded in snow (Hell freezing over) and some not so subtle nods to the comic. It’s Mephisto time, baby. #SpiderManNoWayHome pic.twitter.com/i43fqVtgcZAugust 24, 2021
Then, there are the unsettling similarities to controversial Marvel comic One More Day. We’ve covered it in full here but, as a primer, it involves Peter Parker striking a deal with Mephisto so people could forget all about his secret identity. Sound familiar?
It could be something less sinister, of course. Maybe, just maybe, Doctor Strange is bending the rules to help out a friend. But the evidence is seriously mounting up that the good Doctor is anything but in the Spider-Man threequel. Could it be Mephisto pulling the strings? Or is something else entirely lurking in the shadows? Maybe, as one Marvel fan points out, even Mysterio?
We’ll find out for certain when Spider-Man: No Way Home swings into cinemas on December 17.
Catch up on the MCU story so far with our guide on how to watch the Marvel movies in order.