- "The bill comes due. Always..."
- ―Karl Mordo
Karl Mordo is a former member of the Masters of the Mystic Arts and a close ally to the Ancient One, assisting her with recruiting and training their new soldiers. When Mordo encountered Stephen Strange, he invited him into Kamar-Taj despite the Ancient One's objections and later aided him in battle against Kaecilius and the Zealots. During this battle, Mordo learned the Ancient One drew her power from the Dark Dimension, which had been forbidden from all other Masters. Following the death of the Ancient One at the hands of Kaecilius, who was eventually defeated before he could bring Dormammu to Earth, Mordo was so mortified by this betrayal that he turned his back on his allies and chose to use his skills to restore balance by stripping sorcerers of their power.
Arrival at Kamar-Taj
Having suffered a tragedy in his life, Mordo came to the Kamar-Taj to become one of the Masters of the Mystic Arts in order to gain revenge for his loss, although he was initially disrespectful to the teachings and way of life he found there. Mordo was trained by the Ancient One in the Mystic Arts and soon became a Master, putting aside his desire for revenge and dedicating his life to the mystic arts and protecting the world from harm.
Retrieving the Bow and Arrow of Apollon
- "They always want a fight don't they?"
"Unfortunately for them, yes."
- ―Karl Mordo and Ancient One
When the Bow and Arrow of Apollon was stolen from Kamar-Taj by Jiãó ào Zhànshì and his army of Dragon Raiders, Mordo and the Ancient One went on confront his army. Engaging in a fierce battle against the Raiders, the Masters of the Mystic Arts eventually were victorious and reclaimed the Bow and Arrow, returning it to Kamar-Taj for safe keeping.
Recruiting Doctor Strange
- "Might I offer you some advice? Forget everything you think you know."
- ―Karl Mordo to Stephen Strange
In Nepal, Mordo overheard Stephen Strange asking people for directions to the Kamar-Taj. He followed him through the streets and then saved him from three muggers who were after his watch. Mordo took Strange to the Kamar-Taj telling him to "forget everything that he thinks he knows".
He supported Strange's physical body when the Ancient One pushed his Astral Form out of his body. He also called attention to Strange's spiking heart rate as the man was pushed through multiple dimensions but the Ancient One said he looked fine and sends him back.
Convincing the Ancient One
- "There is a strength to him."
- ―Karl Mordo
After the Ancient One refused to teach Stephen Strange, Mordo convinced her that Strange could help them defeat Kaecilius and the Zealots. He pointed out that he was once proud and brash like Kaecilius but was taught a better way by the Ancient One and eventually she lets Strange back into the Kamar-Taj to train.
Mordo brought Strange to his room in Kamar-Taj and explained that they would begin their training first thing in the morning. Mordo then handed Strange a piece of paper which Strange questioned if it was his mantra, only for Mordo to explain that it was actually the Wi-Fi password, joking that the Masters of the Mystic Arts were not savages.
Training Doctor Strange
- "You're ready when the relic decides you're ready... For now, conjure a weapon. Fight! Fight like your life depended on it! Because one day it may."
- ―Karl Mordo to Doctor Strange
Mordo began teaching the Masters of the Mystic Arts students how to use a Sling Ring a device to help Sorcerers travel great distances quickly and notices Stephen Strange's difficulty in using them, which he blamed on his own damaged hands being to shaky to do as he wished. The Ancient One then arrived in the courtyard, ending the session and sending away Mordo and the other trainees, leaving just herself and Strange to discuss the difficulty he was having and using Hamir as an example of what could be achieved under Mordo's teachings.
When Mordo returned to the courtyard just a short while later, he discovered that the Ancient One was trying something different and had left Strange on the top of Mount Everest as encouragement, with Mordo horrified that the Ancient One was using this technique yet again. Although Mordo considered collecting Strange, fearing for his safety, the Ancient One ordered him to wait and eventually Strange succeeded in creating a portal with his Sling Ring and returned to Kamar-Taj, freezing cold and falling to his knees. Upon seeing this, both Mordo and the Ancient One chuckled at Strange but then also complimented his success at achieving the portal.
With Strange gaining more confidence in his abilities, Mordo helped to train him in hand-to-hand combat and explained that magic can be channeled through objects and relics to create more advanced weapons and spells, such as his own Staff of the Living Tribunal and Vaulting Boots of Valtorr. While Strange joked about the names, Mordo explained that he would soon find his own relic before they began fighting together, with Mordo easily beating Strange.
Mordo and Wong later discovered Strange experimenting with the Eye of Agamotto and manipulating time, the pair attempted to explain to him the cause the sorcerers of Kamar-Taj serve. As Strange struggled with the realization of his training's true purpose, the temple was raided by Kaecilius and he was separated from Mordo as he was knocked into a portal towards New York City's Sanctum Sanctorum where Kaecilius was going.
Mordo and The Ancient One eventually reunited with Doctor Strange in the Sanctum Sanctorum based within New York City, where the budding sorcerer accuses the latter of drawing power from the Dark Dimension, and of tricking him into entering their metaphysical war. Furious at this, Mordo accused Strange of cowardice and presumptuousness. The pair was soon attacked by Kaecilius once more, where despite attempting to confine Kaecilius in the Mirror Dimension, the two were held at a disadvantage by his extensive powers.
The Ancient One arrived and confronted Kaecilius as the situation grows dim, revealing that her powers did indeed stem from the Dark Dimension, horrifying Mordo. She managed to rescue her students and allow them to escape, but was mortally wounded in the process. After her death, Mordo became deeply disillusioned about his master and her cause, believing her bending of the laws of nature made her responsible for Kaecilius' eventual fall. Despite this, he followed Strange to stop Kaecilius from destroying the Hong Kong Sanctum and summoning Dormammu.
They arrived to find Wong dead and the Hong Kong Sanctum had already destroyed, and Dormammu materialized over the city. Doctor Strange attempted to use the Eye of Agamotto to reverse the Sanctum's destruction, while Mordo temporarily subdues Kaecilius and his Zealots. However, Kaecilius managed to stop the reversal process by tampering with the Eye and stopping time, forcing Strange to make a bargain with Dormammu instead, who left taking Kaecilius and his followers with him.
While Strange and Wong were in the celebratory mood, Mordo found himself further disillusioned by Strange's breaking of nature's laws to dispatch of Dormammu, much like the Ancient One had done. Mordo concluded that sorcerers abuse their power and were responsible for the world's imbalances, deciding that his best cause of action was to leave the Masters of the Mystic Arts.
Attack on Jonathan Pangborn
- "Power has a purpose."
"Why are you doing this?"
"Because I see at long last what's wrong with the world. Too many sorcerers."
- ―Karl Mordo and Jonathan Pangborn
Sometime later, he confronted Jonathan Pangborn at the factory he had worked at. When Pangborn realized that Mordo was going to attack him, he retaliated with a crowbar. Mordo defeated him and began stealing his magic, reducing him to a paralytic once more, and declared his intention to cleanse the world of rogue sorcerers.
- "You lack imagination.
No, Stephen. You lack a spine."
- ―Doctor Strange and Karl Mordo
However, he is also noted by the Ancient One to be rigid and unwilling to compromise. He is so respectful of the natural order of things that he is unwilling to bend it under any circumstances, nor willing to tolerate others to do the same. As a warrior for the Masters of the Mystic Arts, Mordo was unafraid of conflict, or even of killing, as he was used to fighting for his life and to defend reality from rogue sorcerers. When Strange expressed disgust over killing Lucian, Mordo called him a coward for not having the spine to do what must be done, and stated that he would have done it without hesitation. He claimed that there was no other way to defeat their enemies besides killing, which led Strange to accuse him of lacking imagination. Ultimately, Mordo's inflexibility proved to be his greatest flaw, as he was unable to understand that while the Ancient One did draw power from the Dark Dimension, which she had forbidden, she did so in order to protect the world.
Upon learning that the Ancient One had secretly been harnessing energy from the Dark Dimension, and after Strange manipulated time to defeat Kaecilius and the Zealots (thereby going against the universe's natural laws), Mordo becomes disillusioned and embittered by what he sees as a betrayal of the order's supposed purpose, and proceeds to leave the order. He began to believe that one of the root problems of the world was having too many sorcerers, and thus his purpose was to rid the world of sorcerers who misused their powers, broke natural laws and unwilling to help defend reality, which lead to him attacking Jonathan Pangborn and stripping him of his power, which the latter used to only make himself able to walk, ignoring the responsibility to defending reality.
Powers and Abilities
- Master Sorcerer: Mordo is one of the most powerful Masters of the Mystic Arts, possessing a considerable mastery of the mystic arts, which he uses to defend his native reality. With the help of numerous mystical artifacts and relics, in addition to his astral powers, Mordo is able to gain access to a multitude of mystical powers.
- Eldritch Magic Manipulation: Mordo is able to create, shape and manipulate Eldritch Magic.
- Teleportation: Using a Sling Ring, Mordo is able to open a fiery portal to another location, gaining ability to move tremendous distances instantaneously.
- Inter-Dimensional Travel: Using the same Sling Ring, Mordo can travel between different dimensions and universes, crossing over different planes of existence or travelling across various forms of reality.
- Power Absorption: After leaving the Masters of the Mystic Arts, Mordo demonstrated being able to strip sorcerers of magic and rob them of their abilities, notably performing this on Jonathan Pangborn, who channeled magically derived power to move his body despite being paraplegic. Mordo grabbed Pangborn's torso and summoned his magic in the form of a yellow, flame-like energy from the man's body, which instantly left Jonathan paralyzed once again.
- Master Martial Artist: Mordo is a highly skilled martial artist, in both armed and hand-to hand combat. He single-handedly defeated three Nepalese thugs, as well as later besting Stephen Strange in a sparring session. He also easily overpowered Jonathan Pangborn when he tried to defend himself from Mordo's attack.
- Sling Ring: A mystical object which enables the wearer to open a fiery portal to another location.
- Staff of the Living Tribunal: A pole weapon which is used by Mordo as a melee weapon. It is able to extend and become segmented like chain-links, allowing it to be used as a flail or whip. When in use, it radiates orange sparks and exerts extreme amounts of force, enough to send others flying though the air. Mordo even used it to swing from a structure while battling Kaecilius's followers on a scaffold, showing it can hold a person's weight without breaking.
- Vaulting Boots of Valtorr: Boots imbued with a power to increase the wearer's leaping ability and are also capable of allowing the wearer to walk and run on air, as well as to nullify the adverse effects of impacts from high landings. When the boots' power is invoked, they emit orange sparks from the footfalls.
- Dragon Raiders
- Masters of the Mystic Arts - Former Allies
- Jonathan Pangborn - Former Ally turned Enemy
- In the comics, Baron Karl Amadeus Mordo was a Transylvanian nobleman and a student of the Ancient One, until he betrayed and tried to kill him. He once served Dormammu in order to receive additional power in order to destroy Doctor Strange.
Behind the Scenes
- Kevin Feige stated they did not make Mordo the villain of Doctor Strange because, "We wanted to play against in the comics. Because in the comics for as unbelievably creative and full of imagination as they are – we are desperate to recreate in cinematic form – there's some things that are too obvious for modern day audiences. The jealous rival named Baron Von Mordo, who turns against him when he shows any signs of talent – we specifically didn’t want to do that."