It has only been a month since Sony and Marvel’s leviathan hit, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” rampaged its way into theatres worldwide. While that film continues to tear up box office records in the real world – despite the challenges of the pandemic, our eyes have turned to the next film in the cinematic chronology, Sam Raimi’s “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness”.
Picking up where we left off with the multiversal shenanigans of the Spidey flick, the “Doctor Strange” sequel will be exploring the rifts that have rippled across the universe. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is already shaping up to be one of the biggest films of 2021. However, what fans may not necessarily be prepared for is the sheer scope and scale of the film itself.
“The Multiverse is a concept about which we know frighteningly little…”
The Multiverse is not particularly new within the MCU as multiple worlds, dimensions, and realities have been explored. First mentioned in 2016’s “Doctor Strange”, we got a trippy first glimpse as the good doctor himself was transported across multiple realities in one of the finest sequences in the MCU.
Nevertheless, up until 2019, the films had only skirted around the fringes, temporarily exploring other realms, and only focusing on its surreal imagery. Although not mentioned explicitly, “Avengers: Endgame” did bring it to the forefront by making it a device for a second chance at defeating Thanos. However, it wasn’t until “Loki” and the aforementioned “No Way Home” that the best aspects of the Multiverse were finally unlocked.
The Multiverse itself is a conglomerate of all dimensions and parallel realities in existence. Although dimensions may exist as segments of a certain reality, there are parallel universes that exist adjacent to other continuities. In itself, the Multiverse is a treasure that allows us to see different versions of familiar characters.
Christened as Variants, these characters may look exactly like the ones we see in the prime continuity but maintain different life experiences, goals, motivations, and costumes. This has been the case for Tom Hiddleston’s Loki whereby the prime version bit the dust in the opening scene of “Avengers: Infinity War”.
However, a Variant became the main focus for the Disney+ show while another crazed variant in President Loki made an appearance. This seems to also be the case for Doctor Strange as there will be two other Variants in the sequel, namely Strange Supreme and Defender Strange.
Nevertheless, Variants may also be played by a different actor entirely, as seen in the case of the wallcrawler. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield both returned to reprise their versions of Peter Parker, hence canonising the events of their respective films as part of the MCU’s Multiverse.
Back in November last year, THR reported that Sam Raimi’s feature was undergoing extensive reshoots. While it isn’t a surprise for a big blockbuster film to do so, the supporting notions that accompanied it did raise some eyebrows. A source suggested that the reshoots were “spurred by [“Spider-Man: No Way Home”] and the Disney+ “Loki” series” and Marvel wanting to include more cameos and character introductions.
Now, of course, this is huge for Marvel fans as there is literally no bar to what can happen as of now. Akin to how “No Way Home” was a pompous occasion for fans of the wall-crawler, “Multiverse of Madness” will be a giant celebration of Marvel.
Indeed, the amount of rumours hitting the Internet about who will appear in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” has risen exponentially ever since the reshoots were announced. As long as the movie isn’t released, anything could happen. We’ve got about 99 problems trying to keep up with them as they’ve just gone Cray-Z. Hell, even Sam Raimi himself is unsure as to whether the reshoots are complete!
As Strange Supreme would say:
Regardless, we’re gonna try to take a look at some of them and compile the likeliest of them all. Take note that most of what comes next has not been confirmed officially by Marvel Studios. But hey, we love some good speculative fun! [Of course, here’s the obligatory *spoiler warning* for whatever might come ahead]
Fans have been clamouring to see the X-Men and other mutant characters interact alongside the Avengers in the MCU ever since the Fox-Disney deal went through. It seems that we are finally getting our wish with this outing as an insider had reported that Wanda Maximoff will be fighting a character from the Fox-Verse.
While said insider did not reveal who the Fox character was, a piece of concept art from the film supposedly leaked online, showing Wanda battling the unmistakable figure of Professor Charles Xavier!
— spidy (@gwotahm) September 25, 2021
The authenticity of the above could definitely be doubted. BUT there is one fact that could actually aid in hardening the evidence here. Just take at the following still from “Multiverse of Madness” trailer.
It can indeed be noted that Wanda is donning garb similar to the concept art image. That white top. Dark pants. Glowing red hands. The evidence seems to be nicely lining up for it to merely be a coincidence.
Truly, an appearance by Charles Xavier would be significant for two reasons. Of course, it officially introduces a mutant as part of the canon. The second reason would probably carry more weight within the context of the film as Professor X is part of the Illuminati.
In the comics, the Illuminati are a secret group consisting of the greatest minds on the planet. The group has most famously consisted of powerhouses like Mister Fantastic, Professor X, Iron Man, Black Panther, Namor, Doctor Strange, and Black Bolt. They hold covert meetings, sharing strategies and information, operating under the radar successfully despite their distinct egos and differential traits.
Now, it would make sense to introduce the Illuminati in the MCU as some sort of Multiversal gatekeeper. If a rift between the Multiverse has happened, they would probably be the first in line to keep it under wraps. Alternatively, it could also be theorized that Strange and co. get transported to a universe where the Illuminati are in control and hence, are subdued by their forces.
If Professor X does make a cameo as a Variant, it is unclear whether Patrick Stewart or James McAvoy, both of whom played the mutant back in the Fox days, would be returning. Regardless, this is an insane start to even more madness. So, stay tuned!
Now, what comes to mind when you think of Sam Raimi? That’s right! You think of the Tobey Maguire “Spider-Man” films.
The greatest responsibility the MCU had for “No Way Home” was reintroducing Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man into the MCU. The character, amusingly dubbed “Peter 2”, made a powerful impact on Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, even teaching him a thing or two about the hero’s code. Now that the switch to the arachnid fun is dimmed, Peter 2 might be a free agent to travel the Multiverse.
Back in 2020, FandomWire suggested that Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man might actually appear in “Multiverse of Madness”. At the time, the report had next to no clout. Nonetheless, considering that Peter 2 did materialize in “No Way Home”, there is a possibility that they might have latched onto something early.
Besides, a recent social media post by Portuguese dubbing actress Mariana Torres has fueled the fire. To provide some context, Mariana is the voice dub actress for Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch. Teasing that “good things are coming”, the actress posed with Manolo Rey, who is the official voice dub for Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man. So, Scarlet Witch and Spidey. Hmm… we wonder what they could be referring to.
It would be a dream to see Maguire reunite with the “Evil Dead” director. After all, Raimi did bring out the best of Maguire’s Spider-Man, all while creating a compelling story for fans to follow and care about. Both of their legacies have been tied to this character and it would be amazing for this relationship to flourish through the screens once more.
Who knows, we might even see the return of Bully Maguire! [Cue the James Brown funk]
The trailer for “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” showed us that “What If…?” characters could make the jump into live-action as well. The morally dubious version of Stephen Strange surprised audiences when he faced down the Master of the Mystic Arts with an imposing grin. Indeed it begs the question of whether other alternate versions from the animated series could translate into live-action in the movie.
It doesn’t seem likely that Chris Evans will be rushing to return as Steve Rogers at the moment. However, one patriotic candidate that could be making an appearance is Hayley Atwell’s Captain Carter, who first debuted in the Disney+ anthology.
In the show, Peggy Carter took the place of Steve Rogers as the recipient of the Super Soldier serum, gaining attributes of enhanced speed, strength, and durability. Captain Carter also received her own vibranium shield but instead of a silver star on its centre, it’s decorated with a Union Jack pattern.
In her spotlight episode, Captain Carter’s story echoes that of Steve Roger’s in the main timeline. However, a big difference is the third act to that episode which features a tentacled beast summoned by Johann Schmidt aka The Red Skull. Dubbed the Champion of HYDRA, the beast immediately begins attacking everyone around it, even killing the Red Skull.
With no other choice, Captain Carter makes the ultimate sacrifice by leaving her reality behind to push the beast back into its domain. The time-twisting properties of the Champion’s home, however, causes Peggy to appear out of a wormhole in 2012 where she meets Nick Fury and Hawkeye.
In the trailer for “Multiverse of Madness”, we get a brief glimpse at a tentacled beast albeit in its full form. The character, Gargantos – which should be an amalgamation with Shuma-Gorath from the comics as well- is shown throwing a bus at Strange and Miss America. If they are going down the Shuma-Gorath route, the sorcerers will be facing down a tough opponent.
It stands to reason that Gargantos/Shuma-Gorath, or a version of it, was the Champion of HYDRA in Captain Carter’s timeline. If anything, this might help propel an appearance by alternate Super Soldier due to her ties with the creature.
The creative team behind “What If…?”, A.C. Bradley and Bryan Andrews, have expressed their interest in bringing Captain Carter to live-action. While we do not think that the duo is directly involved in “Multiverse of Madness”, the prospect of bringing Hayley Atwell back for another bout, especially as a superhero, would be too good of a chance to let up.
One of the biggest rumours to hit the Internet thus far is Iron Man’s return to the MCU. The only twist? Robert Downey Jr. would not be returning to reprise his decade-long role. Rather, Marvel might have reached out to another high-profile actor to do the deed. And that name is none other than Tom Cruise.
For the uninitiated, the “Mission Impossible” star was actually in the running to play the armoured Avenger back in the early 2000s. Nevertheless, Cruise himself was reluctant to take on the part. In fact, the actor told the press back in 2008 that the role wasn’t meant for him citing that it would not have worked if he continued pursuing the role.
He also had high praise for the eventual bearer, saying: “Robert Downey Jr. was perfect. I couldn’t imagine anyone else like Iron Man. Really. It was exceptional.”
Considering Robert Downey Jr.’s story within the Marvel Cinematic Universe came to a close in 2019, it stands to reason that Marvel could resurrect Iron Man for another appearance with another performer while also paying respect to Cruise’s erstwhile ties to the character.
— Moth Culture (@Moth_Culture) January 18, 2022
Recently, a set photo of the actor in a mo-cap suit akin made its way online. Indeed, Cruise was sporting some very extravagant facial hair akin to how a Tony Stark would look like. It is worth noting that the set image could have been fabricated but it is still a juicy bit to chew on.
Furthermore, like the pre-visualisation for Professor X, there is also another piece of leaked concept that made its rounds online. Displaying a subdued Strange at the hands of some Ultron bots, it may seem that Tony Stark might have gotten his wish to see his suit of armour around the world in this universe.
Vazou uma imagem de Doutor Estranho 2, nela, podemos ver dois Ultron bots que capturaram Stephen Strange e o trouxeram para o professor Xavier do Patrick Stewart, que está ao lado do Barão Mordo#DoctorStrangeInTheMultiverseOfMadness #DoctorStrange #Marvel #Disney pic.twitter.com/Vv06mMCHF3
— Mundo Geek #Peacemaker (@MundoGeekOF1) October 5, 2021
There is a theory suggesting that Cruise’s character may be based on the Superior Iron Man run, whereby the worst qualities of Tony Stark came together to form a villainous figure. He wears an Endo-Sym armour, which has a symbiotic relationship akin to Eddie Brock and Venom’s. Nevertheless, his twisted morality and mind made him a powerful and difficult opponent that did not care for the greater good.
It might be great to see this version of Tony Stark appear on-screen. After all, we have already associated the main RDJ version to be the ultimate hero, having gone through an entire journey about the greater good and sacrifice. Tom Cruise’s version should be distinct enough so that it doesn’t diminish the goodwill that has been done but to make a shocking twist that adds significant stakes to the future of the MCU.
Honestly, the less said about “Inhumans”, the better. Oh, we’re not talking about THAT version? Phew.
In December of 2021, a report by FandomWire provided the scoop that an Inhuman will be debuting in the “Doctor Strange” sequel. The report also strongly hinted at a specific Inhuman in the form of Black Bolt. However, it did not say whether other members of the Inhuman royal family like Medusa, Gorgon, Karnak, and Crystal would make appearances.
It has been public knowledge that the cinematic “Inhumans” debut was set to happen in 2019 but was ultimately removed from the slate and replaced with a series order on ABC. Unfortunately, the TV project debuted to a dismaying critical reception with many criticising its shoddy dialogue, development choices, sub-par effects and costumes.
Black Bolt, played by Anson Mount in the show, suffered from a ridiculous fall in power levels and never rose to the level he was supposed to be at. If the character does appear in “Multiverse of Madness”, this could be a suitable time to elevate and redeem the Inhuman king. He’s one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel pantheon and they have the chance now to let him voice his matters seriously!
Although Anson Mount is an incredible actor, it might make sense for Marvel to distance itself from this particular blot in its slate and maintain a fresh look for the Inhuman King. The Inhumans are a great team and having them alongside the Avengers and X-Men would certainly be great for the MCU moving forward.
It may be a while more before we actually get to see Marvel’s First Family join the MCU but that does not mean Kevin Feige and co. haven’t been busy. The Jon Watts “Fantastic Four” film is still in development as of now but a recent report suggested that casting for the reboot is currently underway.
However, we might not have to wait till the film is released to actually see the seeds. “Multiverse of Madness” is reportedly setting up the debut for a certain member of the Fantastic Four, namely stretchy scientist Reed Richards. But that’s not all, The Illuminerdi learned that actor John Krasinski has already been cast and has shot his scenes for the movie as well.
Now, John Krasinski along with his wife, Emily Blunt, have been fan cast by the Internet to play Reed and Sue Richards respectively. While Blunt has shunned the notion of starring in comic book films, her husband has been open to the idea of playing a superhero.
As a matter of fact, Krasinski was one of the frontrunners to play Captain America before Chris Evans was cast. He even tested the star-spangled suit but according to him, he got intimidated by Chris Hemsworth’s physique as Thor. One decade and a failed F4 reboot later, we’re getting closer to having both Krasinski and the First Family in the MCU.
Like Kang aka Nathaniel Richards, Mister Fantastic could have his own council of Reeds. Even if the version introduced in “Multiverse of Madness” is a Variant, Krasinski could still end up playing the character in the main timeline and maybe even more versions down the road.
As of now, we guess Krasinski will be opting for the embrace of a quiet place prior to the film’s release.
Vengeance is about to be unleashed upon the Multiverse!
Being one of the earliest rumours during the initial production schedule, Atlanta Filming, exposed that Ghost Rider will feature in “Multiverse of Madness”, Not only that, the outlet also stated that the character would trapped in some kind of spiritual prison but will be freed along the way.
Now, we have to take Sam Raimi’s background as a horror director into account. Before he got the “Spider-Man” gig, horror films were his staple. Indeed, he created the “Evil Dead” franchise with Bruce Campbell (also rumoured to appear in the film) along with horror hits like “Drag Me To hell”.
Elizabeth Olsen has also described the feature as the “scariest Marvel movie” like the “old Sam Raimi” in which there will be some terrifying madness within the sandbox. Writer Michael Waldron also stated that he and Raimi worked together to push the movie in a scarier trajectory. Building upon what Scott Derrickson, who had worked on the first movie, we will see a “sort of spookiness throughout”.
It would not be out of the realm of possibility to have a freakish character like Ghost Rider appear in “Multiverse of Madness” in a cameo. As of now, it remains uncertain which version of Ghost Rider would make the cut. They could be using the Robbie Reyes version as popularized by “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” If they want to get the best reception from the audience, however, it will have to be the original Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze.
A return to Ghost Rider’s roots could set up a whole bunch of team-up and storytelling possibilities. With “Moon Knight” and “Blade” on the way, there could be set-ups for a “Midnight Sons” narrative in the future. Besides, Johnny Blaze could eventually be the conduit for everyone’s favourite red demon to enter the fray. Say his name. ME-PHIS- nah… we don’t want to jinx it this time.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” may have been the one to actually bring back legacy characters into the MCU, but it was a little show on Disney+ that opened the floodgates to the Multiverse. Considering the premise of “Loki” dealt with diverging timelines, Nexus events, and that crazy ending with a Kang variant, it might be a safe bet to assume that the god of mischief does return for more Multiversal madness.
In the finale of “Loki” season 1, both the title character and Sylvie journey to the Citadel at the End of Time and come face to face with Jonathan Majors’ He Who Remains. However, Sylvie’s blind rage causes her to kill the Kang variant, unleashing the full divergence of the Multiverse which the Time Variance Authority is unable to contain any longer.
Meanwhile, Loki gets trapped in a dangerous timeline where an evil Kang variant is the ruler of that reality. On that ominous note, the show ends.
Back in September of 2021, it was reported that Tom Hiddleston’s stunt double was in the film. But that wasn’t the end. The stunt double for Owen Wilson and Sophia Di Martino, who play Mobius and Sylvie respectively, were also reportedly working on the film as well.
It is also worth noting that Michael Waldron, who is the head writer on “Loki”, is also one of the scribes for the film. Therefore, one could deduce that a Loki appearance would have been in the first few drafts from the start as the film could serve as a spiritual sequel to the series.
Now, the most tangible evidence we have had thus far comes in the trailer. In the trailer shot that we mentioned earlier, one can notice an orange gleam behind Wanda’s glowing palm. Now, that is the unmistakable shape and colour of a TVA door. A random TVA agent could just walk out that door but it’s more likely that Loki and his adjacent fellows will make an appearance.
As of now, Loki’s appearance in “The Multiverse of Madness” is the most probable on this entire list as there’s just too much evidence in play here. We’re kneeling here, Tom. Don’t let us down!
Do you think we will see all of the characters mentioned above in the “Doctor Strange” sequel? What other characters would you like to see in the film? List your picks in the comments!
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