Magic and Madness in Marvel’s Multiverse

by John Downey '23 on May 6, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

Magic and Madness in Marvel’s Multiverse

Film Preview: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Olivia Riportella ’25

After a long six years of waiting for a sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange, to Marvel fans’ excitement, Benedict Cumberbatch will finally return to the big screen as the titular character in a second standalone film. Brought to life with director Sam Raimi’s imaginative visuals, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be the 28th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Although potential spoilers about the movie are being kept very carefully under wraps, some information about it has been revealed ahead of its May 6 release date.  

As is the case with any other MCU movie, there are many preceding films and plotlines that are necessary to fully understand the film. In order to have a complete understanding of the movie’s depth and the stakes of its storyline, it is best to watch all of the MCU movies. However, for those short on time, the projects that will likely have the most direct bearings on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness are Doctor Strange (2016), Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), Loki (2021), WandaVision (2021), and the animated short What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands? (2021).

No Way Home sees Dr. Strange perform a forbidden spell to help Peter Parker (Tom Holland) that spirals out of control and opens the multiverse. Strange’s actions bring Spider-Men from non-NCU projects, namely, those played by Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield, into the MCU. Similarly, Loki introduces the idea of multiple timelines and “variants,” or different versions of the same character from different timelines. As Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ title suggests, the arrival of the multiverse and “variants” in the MCU will lead to unlimited possibilities and overall madness. 

Indeed, Doctor Strange is set to go on a thrilling ride through the multiverse as he tries to fix his mess from No Way Home with the help of his trusted friend and fellow sorcerer, Wong (Benedict Wong) and sorceress Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen). The latter character is the center of WandaVision, in which she embraces her powers as the Scarlet Witch and taps into abilities that seem to be far beyond the domain of any other character that has been introduced in the MCU so far. The show sees Wanda toe the line between hero and villain, an interesting development that makes her return in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness all the more exciting.

Notably, one of the new film’s main villains seems to be a Dr. Strange “variant” from What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands? In this alternate universe, Strange cannot accept the death of his beloved Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams). Despite making infinite attempts to travel back in time and prevent it, he cannot prevent her from dying. His refusal to accept her death drives him into insanity and leads him to absorb dark powers from interdimensional beings that make him a dangerous threat. 

The endless possibilities that come with opening the multiverse will undoubtedly lead to numerous cameos from fan-favorite MCU characters—and Marvel characters not yet introduced into the MCU—in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. As of right now, it is all but confirmed that X-Men’s iconic Professor X (Sir Patrick Stewart) and a live-action version of the animated What If…?’s Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell) will be appearing in the film. There is even speculation that other stars such as Chris Evans, the MCU’s Steve Rogers, will be making a cameo appearance as his Fantastic Four character, Johnny Storm. 

Truly, almost anyone from the MCU and beyond could arrive in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Undoubtedly, then, this new Marvel film will not be one to miss.