At 2019’s San Diego Comic-con, Marvel unveiled their scheduled films for Phase 4 of the MCU. Among them was Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the highly-anticipated sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Due to the postponement of the phase due to the pandemic, the film is now set to premiere on March 25, 2022.
If you’re a fan of all things mystical, magical, and Marvel like I am, you’re no doubt curious about what we can expect from this film. The title is mysterious and ominous, with just the right amount of classic comic campiness. It gives me the sense that film is fully prepared to embrace all of the fun, dark, and bizarre elements of its source material. The MCU has been dipping its toes into the weirder side of the Marvel Universe more and more with each recent film; the Multiverse of Madness seems like the perfect opportunity to take the plunge.
Originally, Scott Derrickson, the director of the first film, was set to return for the Sorceror Supreme’s sequel, but has since parted ways with the project. In an exciting twist, however, Sam Raimi is now set to direct in his stead. Raimi has a background in both horror and superhero flicks, having directed the Evil Dead series as well as Sony’s original Spider-Man trilogy. In addition, he has stated that he’s a life-long fan of Doctor Strange, and I expect he will give the character his due appreciation as well as add a welcome new directing style to the MCU. Both Derrickson and Kevin Feige have teased in the past that the film will have some scary and even horror elements, and Raimi seems like the perfect director to incorporate that style.
New Realms and New Foes
The original Doctor Strange is largely remembered for its sequences of mind-bending visual effects, such as with the astral plane, the Mirror and Dark Dimensions, and the time-altering powers of The Eye of Agamotto (aka the Time Stone). No doubt we will see even more unique and madness-inducing realms in a film such as this. And, as with any Marvel movie, this leads towards speculation on which villain from Marvel’s vast multiverse will challenge the Master of the Mystic Arts this time. It could be the demon Nightmare, with the focus placed on his realm, the Dream Dimension, and his power over the dreaming subconscious. Or maybe it will be Mephisto, the devilish villain responsible for causing our heroes trouble for years of comic history.
My bet, however, is on Shuma-Gorath, an ancient extra-dimensional being and notable adversary of Strange. Many expect the film will focus on cosmic, Lovecraftian-style horror, given the name, and who better to fit that theme than a giant, green, tentacled eyeball monster? It is also very likely that we’ll see the return of Mordo. He turned his back on Strange and the sorcerors in the last film, chillingly proclaiming that the world has “too many sorcerers.” If he returns to hunt down Strange, he’s likely to kick off or add to the film’s conflict.
Scarlet Witch Team-Up
Potentially the most exciting fact about the upcoming film is that Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, will be joining Doctor Strange in his adventures. Though she’s become a mainstay in the universe since her introduction in Avengers: Age of Ultron, she has yet to truly find her way into the spotlight. Consequently, I’m sure this team-up between the MCU’s two resident mages is sure to please fans. Wanda has been hinted to be extraordinarily powerful, terrifying even Thanos with her abilities. Maybe we’ll see Strange help her learn to harness and control her powers in new ways.
It is also possible that she is responsible for whatever the “Multiverse of Madness” is. The red glow of the film’s logo looks awfully similar to her magic. Wanda in the comics is also known to have incredibly potent reality-altering abilities. Before appearing in The Multiverse of Madness, Wanda will play a leading role in the upcoming Disney+ series WandaVision, premiering this December. Considering that the show stars the now-deceased Vision and seems to be set in a sitcom-esque suburbia that is a little too perfect, there are surely some reality-warping shenanigans going on there.
How does it all tie together? We’ll just have to wait and see.