Dormammu, along with his sister Umar, is a mutant member of an extra-dimensional society of energy beings called the Faltine. Unlike other Faltinians they were not perfect copies of their progenitor Sinifer and they hungered for matter instead of energy. They were banished from their home dimension for turning Sinifer into matter, which was considered the equivalent of murder. The siblings eventually discovered the Dark Dimension and insinuated themselves into the role of advisors to King Olnar. In exchange for power and protection, Dormammu and Umar taught Olnar how to exploit the natural pocket warps of the Dark Dimension and absorb other dimensions into it. When Olnar died in an attempt to conquer the realm of the Mindless Ones, the siblings used the opportunity to murder most of the Mhuruuks (the magical priest class under Olnar’s rule) and successfully sealed off the Mindless Ones from the rest of the populace. They secured rulership of the realm under the guise of heroes. Later on Dormammu would banish Umar into one of the pocket dimensions under his control, taking sole custody of the Dark Dimension.
Dormammu was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for use in Marvel Comics. Although he was originally intended to be a mere name to flesh out the Strange Tales mythology, popular interest led Lee and Ditko to turn him into a full-fledged entity. His first physical appearance is in Strange Tales #126 (November 1964).
Dormammu was introduced as the ruler of the Dark Dimension, a hodgepodge of intersecting dimensions and realms that defied conventional laws of physics. He was partially responsible for this state due to conquering neighboring dimensions and merging them into his territory. He governed his realm as an absolute dictator.
Like many Marvel antagonists created during the early 1960s (Doctor Doom, Magneto, Green Goblin, etc.), Dormammu functioned as the “dark mirror” to the protagonist. He is the opposite of Strange in many different aspects. Strange went from a crippled neurosurgeon to a talented magician under tutelage while Dormammu began as a powerful, intelligent entity and increased his clout through subjugation; Dormammu seeks to conquer all realms in contrast to Strange’s desire to defend the Earth dimension; the Dread Lord possesses little empathy or tolerance towards other living beings even as Strange is willing to die for the innocent.
Similarly Dormammu shared the mixture of positive and negative traits common to his aforementioned counterparts. At the very least he recognized those who help him and keeps his word: after Doctor Strange helps him to save the Dark Dimension, he promised to never invade the Earth dimension despite his personal rage at being in debt to an enemy. Before he “died”, Dormammu has never deliberately broken this oath. The one time he unintentionally reached Earth, his own oath acted to drain him of power (Doctor Strange #173). His sense of nobility also led him to berate Baron Mordo for interfering during an arranged duel with Strange. Dormammu lacked sympathy for “lesser beings” but was not a sadistic ruler. He was willing to punish those who betrayed him or failed to carry out his orders, but had no interest in torturing those too weak to challenge his power. The punishments themselves were usually limited to short-term banishment into alternate dimensions. When Dormammu did torment important characters it was revealed to be part of a bigger scheme, usually an attempt to bait Doctor Strange into rescuing the hapless victim. Dormammu respected those who could challenge his might, although he was too egotistical to ever consider them as equals.
Any good traits were more than counterbalanced by Dormammu’s bloated sense of self and terrible temper. He views himself as superior to all other entities including such powerful ones as Eternity and Odin. The Dread Lord’s hatred of Strange stemmed from being in debt to the Ancient One’s apprentice. Dormammu could not appreciate Strange’s selfless intention to save the innocent citizens from the Mindless Ones. Instead he was humiliated that he needed a "mortal's" help to defend his own realm. This hatred gradually developed into a pathological rancor that exacerbated all his worst tendencies. Dormammu’s arrogance is usually the undoing of his plots as he will exploit his supposed superiority to gloat instead of finishing off his enemies in a single stroke.
Being so narcissistic Dormammu has never established deep personal relationships with anyone. He possesses a love-hate relationship with his sister Umar that can hardly be called trustworthy. They are more than willing to work together for self-preservation only to betray each other at the slightest sign of weakness. During his early appearances Dormammu never recognized Clea as his niece but as another subject of his realm; most of the time he could not even recall her name. After Clea came under the tutelage of Strange he would use her ancestry to mock her as inferior. Ironically Dormammu’s closest affiliation may be with his nemesis.
In the early appearances he was rarely described as an inherently evil character. In addition to their guardianship over Earth, the Ancient One and Doctor Strange consistently referred to his ‘strangeness’ as a primary reason why he had to be stopped. They considered Dormammu so fundamentally alien in makeup, perspective, and morals that a theoretical rulership of the Earth dimension would end in utter disaster. Dormammu saw his thirst for dimensional occupation as a counterbalance to the forces of order, which would result in ultimate death and oblivion if left unchecked (Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #50). This position has been indirectly expressed in a number of ways over the years. The most explicit example was when Dormammu and Odin engaged in a cosmic chess match, Dormammu being the agent of Lord Chaos to Odin’s Master Order.
Over the decades Dormammu has been described as more of a stereotypical demonic villain. His powers and regeneration became tied to heat and fire and could be smothered if his environment was deprived of those elements. He became known for making deceitful promises that would be carried out to the exact word, promises that rarely benefited the other side. However Dormammu has always maintained his hatred of Doctor Strange and desire to take over the Earth dimension.
Even since his attempt to conquer the realms of Hell, Dormammu has not played a direct role in threatening the Earth-616 universe. He has been portrayed in the role of a tempting demon, offering incredible power in exchange for servitude (and unmentioned possession). He has persuaded Parker Robbins and Jennifer Kale to accept his mystical assistance only to be expelled back to his native realm. Dormammu has sought indirect means to weaken Earth’s protection ranging from manipulating the Sorcerer Supreme process to capturing viruses from alternate universes. This has taken precedence over destroying Strange.
Recently Dormammu has been represented as a “Hell-Lord” in his comic book appearances. He has been shown in both X-Infernus and Captain Britain and MI-13 as a member of Hell’s leadership alongside Mephisto, Satannish, Blackheart, and Hela. This is odd as it directly contradicts major aspects of Dormammu’s history and prior description of the Dark Dimension. This may be the result of writers taking a cue from Dormammu’s appearances in Hellcat and X-Men: Magik in addition to certain retcons such as the Mindless Ones being the creations of Plokta.
Major Story Arcs
Versus Doctor Strange
After telling the Ancient One that he wants to take over the Earth dimension Doctor Strange went to the Dark Dimension to stop him. Strange was much more powerful than he had anticipated and defeated all of his minions. Even Dormammu had used up so much of his energy in battle that the barrier holding the Mindless Ones was weakened. Dormmamu then fled to restore this barrier. Strange offered his power to help not wanting the Dark Dimension to be destroyed. Dormammu felt honor bound to Dr. Strange and agreed to not interfere with the Earth Dimension.
Dormmamu eventually decided that he could still have Dr. Strange killed without interfering in, the Earth Dimension by greatly empowering Baron Mordo. Mordo sought to use this power to kill Strange, and captured the Ancient One and lured Strange into the Dark Dimension. Mordo and Strange battled with hand to hand combat until Mordo struck Strange with a mystic bot from behind. This violated Dormammu's sense of honor and he banished Mordo to another Dimension. He then battled Strange himself and after losing agreed that he would not again use a third party to infiltrate the Earth Dimension.
Revenge and Return
Dormammu once possessed Doctor Strange's body and tried to use him to commit crime and take over the world. This plot eventually fails and Dormammu is driven out of Strange's body by Topaz. Dormammu then retreats back to the Dark Dimension and tries to regain his might again. Dormammu, who wanted revenge, immediately ordered the Mindless Ones to attack Earth. Mr. Fantastic had invented a device which could send the Mindless Ones back to their home dimension by channeling the energies of the heroes nearby. However, the device also allowed Dormammu's separated energies to be reabsorbed by Dormammu once again. Dormammu, who was already regaining full strength, was interfered with by Dr Strange again. With the aid of Spiderman, Doctor Strange and Dormammu were both taken to an unknown land which is beyond the effect of time. Doctor Strange takes his chances and sends Spider-man back into time and stopped Dormammu from seizing power again.
After some years, Dormammu's essence regenerated. However, he became very irrational and spoke of things which he never had. As Umar made fun of Dormammu, a huge shift happened in the Cosmic Axis which greatly increased Dormammu and Umar's powers. They were so powerful that they possessed powers and abilities beyond Eternity. Dormammu used his new powers and transformed Earth into an evil chasm and wasteland where Dormammu decided to dwell. He forced Doctor Strange to be his servant and often humiliated him. Soon the real Dr Strange and the real Defenders came and opposed Dormammu. Since Dormammu had greatly been empowered by the shift of the Cosmic Axis, he was invincible and the Defenders and Doctor Strange didn't even stand a chance against him. However, the heroes stopped Dormammu with the aid of Umar( who was actually attracted to the Hulk) and Dormammu was then reduced to nothing but a human and was depowered by Umar.
Dormammu has now created an alliance with the small time villain called the Hood. He has bonded with his magical cloak which he had set up for some victim to find. The Hood would become the outcome of this plan and with the Hood as a host, he can sometimes turn him into a demonic being. But the more the Hood changes into a demon, the closer Dormammu gets into stepping in the realm of Earth. He began aiding the Hood in a variety of his crimes including the robbery of a vase fortune and also recently convinced the Hood in obtaining a zombie virus to use as a weapon against the 616 Universe heroes and mortals. He has also recently aided in saving Jennifer Kale from a spreading zombie virus and offer her great power only to end up tricking her and possessing her body. However he didn't stay in Kale's body for too long seeing that Hellstorm connected with Kale from the inside of Dormammu's control and ripped him out of her body and back into his dimension. Though where he has failed with Jennifer Kale, he is still trying to get fuller control over the Hood's body in attempts to re-enter Earth.
Dormammu is one of the most powerful magic-users in the Marvel Universe. He is immortal having transformed his body into mystic energy, his body may be dissipated but he will always reform. Dormammu is absolutely more powerful than Mephisto and Satannish being a being of raw, pure mystical energy. He has demonstrated energy projection, protective shields, time travel, elemental/reality warping powers, teleportation, soul manipulation, life force absorption, energy and matter manipulation, and opening portals.
Dormammu often employs Mindless Ones as shock troops.
Trapped in the Dark Dimension by his arch enemy Dr. Strange, Dormammu was able to bring his alternate essence to the future when the Guardians of the Galaxy had traveled back in time to destroy the Badoon. It was due to Strange using the Dark Dimension as a means of transport that he was able to achieve this, making himself far more powerful than in his original state. Upon awakening, he immediately destroyed the Guardians space ship Dry Dock.
Dormammu was challenged by the Guardians and the Galactic Guardians, eventually luring out his true target - Dr. Strange, now acting as the Ancient One. The current Sorcerer Supreme Krugarr was unable to free himself from Dormammu's binding spell in time to save his master. Dormammu finally killed his arch enemy.
With the help of his apprentice Talon, Krugarr was able to trap Dormammu in the Dark Dimension once again, but Strange was no more.
Earth-1610 (Ultimate Universe)
While trying to protect Doctor Strange's house, The Hulk flew into a rage and accidentally destroyed the entire building supposedly killing Spider-Man in the process. Shortly after the explosion had died down a gargantuan Dormammu emerged from The Dark Dimension portal with Johnny Storm (who Dormammu was using as a power source) trapped inside an amulet hanging around his neck thus escalating the already critical situation New York was facing in the wake of the catastrophic Ultimatum Wave.
Doctor Strange tried to take Dormammu down but due to his inexperience in dealing with beings of such caliber Dormammu was easily able to kill the young Doctor Strange. He then told Johnny Storm that if Doctor Strange was the last hope for Earth then it was now doomed. Shortly afterward The Invisible Woman and The Thing appeared in a Fantasticar and prepared to face off against The Ruler of The Dark Dimension in the hopes of saving Johnny.
Creations and Deals
Dormammu was responsible for creating Satannish and other Hell lords. Dormammu directed the remaining dark mystical energy left behind after the war between Atum and the Elder gods. Dormammu manipulated Satannish and the other Hell lords and lied to them about their origin. Satannish and the other Hell lords trusted Dormammu and even obeyed him.
Dormammu also empowered Baron Mordo in order to kill Doctor Strange for insulting him in battle. Baron Mordo had to sacrifice his mother and grandfather to Dormammu. However, Mordo's attempt to kill Dr Strange fails which also angered Dormammu.
Film and Televison
Spider-Man: The Animated Series
Dormammu appeared two times in the third season. First trying to be freed from his dimension with the help of Baron Mordo with the aid of his cult which included Mary-Jane Watson at the time. His plan would be stopped by Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and Wong. The second time, he would be set free of his dimension with the help of Baron Mordo and Carnage. But he would be easily stopped by Spider-Man, Iron-Man, and Venom and be sent back into his dimension.
The Superhero Squad Show
Dormammu and his Mindless One minions appear in one episode of the first season of the Superhero Squad Show, where he and his minions are summoned to Earth, forcing the Squadies to team up with Doctor Strange to defeat him. They succeed and send Dormammu back to the Dark Dimension. He is almost always mentioned when Doctor Strange appears, however.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Dormmamu is a playable character in Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds and appears as a major boss during the game’s story mode. He is often compared to MvC2 Blackheart for his large model and emphasis on using durable projectiles to zone opponents. He was first confirmed alongside Viewtful Joe at Gamescon 2010.
Dormammu’s playstyle wavers between two extremes: getting in to attack or staying fullscreen to chip his enemies to death. He is one of the most damaging melee characters in the game and can keep out opponents by summoning various projectiles such as orbs and pillars of dark energy as well as a carpet of flame. Dormammu also possesses a unique spell system that allows him to do damage normally reserved for Hyper Combos: meteors from the sky, a lava eruption, and a fullscreen explosion are among his possible attacks. However he suffers from bad ground mobility, a huge hitbox and long recovery on all his normals. To compensate he is only one of two characters (the other being Phoenix) to possess an 8 way air dash and a teleport.
Although he is rarely seen in tournaments Dormammu is popularly considered one of the top 10 characters in the game. He is most widely known as the personal favorite of Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez, the Evolution 2012 winner.