Marvel's Mystical Multiverse Mission (Or How Marvel Show Dr. Strange Some Love)
While only having appeared in one solo movie, Dr. Stephen Strange a.k.a Dr. Strange (not his “made-up” name) is being positioned as one of the central characters in the MCU's future. After getting name dropped in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the good doctor has demonstrated the ability to be one of the most powerful Marvel heroes in the fight against Thanos. Now, The Master of the Mystic Arts is being set up as the jumping off point for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Through Dr. Strange, Marvel are opening up more of the cosmic side of the universe by exploring the multiverse with the Strange sequel titled, Dr Strange in The Multiverse of Madness. We have gotten teases of the multiverse in the MCU previously in Doctor Strange, Ant-Man and The Wasp and Avengers: Endgame. Now it seems that audiences will fully explore the multiverse with Strange trapped in alternate versions of his reality. Already we can see how important this film, and Dr Strange, is becoming to the MCU with multiple character crossovers confirmed for the film and the recent announcement of Strange appearing in Spider-Man 3.
The God of Mischief
At 2019’s Comic-Con, it was confirmed a Loki Disney+ series which focus on an alternate reality version of Loki. Now for those who don’t remember Avengers: Infinity War, Loki was snapped by Thanos. Not Infinity Gauntlet snapped, but more neck-snapped. It was a definitive death scene for Thor’s (adopted) brother who has appeared to die on screen multiple times.
However, when the Avengers went on their time-heist in Endgame and travelled back to 2012, they created an alternate version of Loki who grabbed the Space Stone and escaped. The Loki series will star this Loki who has not gone through the character growth original Loki did. Little is known about the series except that it will see Loki wreaking havoc across time and space like an evil Doctor Who. In a Super Bowl teaser, we glimpse him in a prison jumpsuit threatening to burn everything to the ground if you want to know what his head's at.
Along with it's announcement, it was confirmed that Loki would crossover with The Multiverse of Madness. Strange has already tangled with Loki in Thor: Ragnarök and might come across this twisted version of Loki in his travels. Perhaps Loki’s chaos across time and space is what pulls Strange into the Multiverse to try and fix Loki’s tampering. Loki is still set to be released prior to Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness, even with the constant rescheduling of the MCU, implying the series may inform the movie and lay the groundwork for the potential villain, if it isn’t Loki. Speaking of….
The Mutant Sorceress
Along with the announcement of the WandaVision Disney+ series, Elizabeth Olsen joined Benedict Cumberbatch on stage at 2019’s Comic Con to confirm she will be in Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness as Wanda Maximoff a.k.a Scarlet Witch. Now that we have a full trailer for WandaVision, we can discern more details as to what Scarlet Witch’s future may be in the MCU and how she may factor into Doctor Strange’s journey.
Wanda is trapped with her dead partner, the android Vision, in a reality that mimics old TV sitcoms from different eras. The trailer hints towards why the pair are trapped with it potentially being the work of Marvel comic book character, Agatha Harkness. In the comics, Harkness is a witch who trains Wanda Maximoff to become a more powerful sorceress. Potentially, by the end of the series, Scarlet Witch might be even more powerful than she already is and capable enough to aid Strange on his journey.
Another popular fan theory would see the series take influence from the ‘House of M’ storyline and have Wanda lose her mind and alter reality. While unlikely for Marvel (or Disney) to have one of their heroes turn evil, Wanda would pose a threat for Strange, and use her reality altering powers to create various dimensions for Strange to be trapped in, including one with Endgame’s Loki.
The fact Loki and Scarlet Witch are confirmed to appear signals the stakes and importance of this film. No other MCU film has been confirmed to be definitively linked with the burgeoning Disney+ series, marking Doctor Strange 2 as the first. Also, with exception to Captain America: Civil War (Avengers 2.5), no other solo Marvel film has included more than 2 other super characters. And if Civil War is the only other time that has happened, then there must be something worth including these characters in Doctor Strange 2.
For better or worse, the Marvel movies could be about to get even more interconnected as Marvel/Disney build more synergy within their cinematic universe. On top of all the mystical machinations in the MCU, recent news has signalled a new direction for Marvel’s friendly neighbourhood superhero.
New York’s Finest
Recently, it was announced that Doctor Strange would appear in Spider-Man 3 opposite Tom Holland. Since the previous Spidey films included Iron Man and Nick Fury, it would not have been surprising for another Marvel hero to team-up with Spider-Man. However, add the news of Jamie Foxx returning as Electro, the shock mid-credits of Spider-Man: Far From Home and Doctor Strange’s multiverse mission, and this could be more than it appears.
In the closing moments of Far From Home, Peter Parker is outed as Spider-Man to the world. The cliffhanger ending is a classic “How will the hero get out of this one?” that fans have thought on. People hoped for this being the introduction of Matt Murdoch/Daredevil, with his lawyer persona being utilised to prove Peter’s innocence. Sadly, Marvel are not able to develop projects with the Marvel/Netflix characters yet.
What holds more potential now, is Doctor Strange being called upon to wave his magic, sparkly hands around and erase people’s memories of Spider-Man’s identity. It wouldn’t be the first time Peter Parker used magic to maintain his secret identity, as depicted in the controversial ‘One More Day’ storyline.
Besides Doctor Strange getting caught up in Spider-Man’s mess, Spider-Man might end up caught in Strange’s mess based on recent casting. Jamie Foxx returning as Electro, a role he last played in The Amazing Spider-Man 2: (Rise of Electro in Australia and the UK) was a surprise announcement similar to Michael Keaton returning as Batman in DC's The Flash movie. Foxx stated on Instagram that this version would not be blue like he was, differentiating this as the MCU’s version. Still, it opens the door for both versions to appear as a result of whatever introduces the Multiverse. There are larger ramifications for what this means for Sony’s Marvel universe (more on that at a later date) but for the MCU, it could offer fan servicing moments such as appearances from Fox X-Men actors.
Or this could all eventuate into nothing and Marvel could blindside everyone with another major Marvel aspect in the same way that no one expected (or knew) Thanos at the end of The Avengers before 6 years later he became a massive cultural touchstone. But it’s fun to speculate.
No matter what the outcome of all of this is, the fact that 2 Disney+ series are crossing over with 1 movie is bold of Disney to think that the majority of audiences will watch all of this content. Especially since most people have moved on from the MCU following the satisfying conclusion of Endgame, even the arrival of the Fantastic Four and the X-Men could be overwhelming for audiences.
Marvel is about to get even more cosmic, following on from the galactic confrontation with Thanos. It is a far cry from the simplistic tale of a narcissistic-genius-billionaire who builds a battle suit to escape a group of terrorists. Hopefully it doesn't shatter the dimensions.