Heroes ultimately represent the great things humanity believes itself capable of. They are brave and selfless, putting the safety of others ahead of their own. All heroes are faced with their antagonists and those antagonists are in many ways the true opposites of the hero. In many cases, the hero and his antagonist, or villain, may even be in pursuit of the same goal, but it is their desires, should they achieve it, that separate them. In the best of cases, the line between hero and villain can be a fine, blurry one, easily crossed at times by both characters.
If Doctor Strange’s magical journey culminated in achieving spiritual harmony and growing selfless, it’s fair to say Baron Mordo’s forays into magic were about personal gain. Mordo is the left to Strange’s right; the black magic to Strange’s white. Never afraid to use his considerable powers to call upon demons or entrance others for his purposes, Mordo often failed to control his would be subject and the resultant damage often precluded his defeat at the hands of Strange.
Born of a union forged to create an heir to a dark legacy, Baron Mordo’s life as an instrument through which the darkest black magic was channeled began without a choice. A man of great ambition and dilligence, Mordo became a student of the Ancient One, pursuing full knowledge of the mystical arts with an extreme intensity. The Ancient One, fully aware of Mordo’s potential for evil, chose to keep his enemy close while awaiting the arrival of the future Sorcerer Supreme, Stephen Strange.
Though he worked alongside Strange for years, aware that his colleague was destined to ascend to Sorcerer Supreme, Mordo’s brutal upbringing as an tool for dark magic eventually led him to betray the Ancient One, ultimately accelerating the timeline for Strange to take on the mantle. From this point on, Mordo vowed revenge on Strange, becoming his nemesis and plotting several attacks against him. It could be argued early on that Mordo was both more powerful and knowledgeable than Strange, only to be defeated in the end, often by some convenient display of his arrogance or Strange’s cleverness.
Mordo had many allies in his battles against Strange and the Ancient One, none more feared and powerful than the Dread One, Dormammu, Lord of Chaos and ruler of the Dark Dimension. Though he grew in power and his schemes grew in magnitude, he always found himself defeated and banished to other dimensions before coming back for more.
Academy Award winner Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) has signed on to bring the nefarious Baron Mordo to life in the upcoming Doctor Strange film. The script for Doctor Strange has been reworked multiple times, most currently by C. Robert Cargill, and it’s clear that it includes some reworking of Mordo. In a brilliant casting move, Marvel Studios overlooked the comic book portrayal of Mordo and cast Ejiofor, a strong actor with a history of playing rich, multi-faceted characters.
Set photos lead us to believe that Mordo may originally be an ally of Strange and even responsible for leading the distraught doctor to the healing hands of the Ancient One. With an actor of Ejiofor’s caliber working beside Benedict Cumberbatch, fans have speculated that perhaps Mordo will survive the film to fulfill his destiny as Strange’s arch-enemy in future films. The inclusion of Mads Mikkelsen as the film’s yet unnamed feature antatgonist and Kevin Feige’s recent statement assuring that “We (audiences) see glimpses of something called the Dark Dimension”, have led to further speculation that Mordo may spend this film being set up for villainy rather than being the main antagonist right away.
Of course, the inclusion of the Dark Dimension in the film means that we will be seeing Dormammu, or his influence, in Doctor Strange. Whether that means Mordo will be working with him now, or in a future film is obviously up in the air given the lack of knowledge about the plot. However, it’s interesting to think that Mordo might spend the majority of this film as an ally of Strange before assuming his more familiar role as antagonist. This would certainly be an improvement over Marvel Studio’s familiar one and done villains, especially given the long shared history between Mordo and Strange.
Up next, a Meet and Greet with The Ancient One!