The Marvel Cinematic Universe is known for its beloved characters, high-budget action, comedic timing, and unexpected heartfelt moments. With this in mind, it may surprise you that Marvel Studios voluntarily removed an integral death scene from one of their box-office hits.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s first Doctor Strange movie in 2016 also starred Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer and followed his rise from injured surgeon to eventual sorcerer supreme.
Long before Doctor Strange teamed up with the Avengers and his eventual delve into the Multiverse of Madness, Stephen Strange suffered a traumatic past that almost made its way to the big screen.
In the original Marvel Comics, Stephen Strange is unable to save his sister Donna from drowning after falling into a frozen lake. The heart-wrenching scene was written, cast, and completely filmed but it never made it into the final cut. Actress Lulu Wilson played the part of Donna Strange.
According to the film’s director, Scott Derrickson, said this in 2016:
“We shot a scene… you know, in the comics, if you know the comics well, Strange has a backstory where his sister died when he was young, and that she drowned. That had a real significant effect, and was probably instrumental in him becoming a doctor. And we shot that scene, and I loved that scene. It was a really great scene. It just didn’t fit in the movie. It felt like… it just didn’t work. But the self-contained scene by itself, I thought it was great. And Lulu [Wilson], who was the little girl in Ouija and was in Deliver Us From Evil, played the girl. So I hope that scene’s on the DVD.”
Unfortunately, the scene was never accessible to the public.
However, Marvel concept artist Darrell Warner noted that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) almost included a similar scene recounting Donna’s death. The plot line was only viable when ‘Nightmare’ was the villain of the film, so it was scraped when Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch turned out to be the main antagonist. We don’t see it, but Strange’s backstory with Donna is mentioned briefly during the sequel.
Maybe one day, audiences will get to see Donna die, but for right now the only one it haunts is Stephen Strange.