Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is out in theaters, and the movie could end up making over $1 billion at the domestic box office when all is said and done. That’s an impressive feat for a sequel about one of the newest Avengers after Endgame. But Doctor Strange 2 is also very much a Wanda story, as you learn right from the start.
That realization might unsettle some MCU fans, and they might think that Multiverse of Madness has a Wanda problem. And they are correct; there is one big issue with the Scarlet Witch that we must address. But it’s not what you think. Before I explain, I’ll remind you that massive spoilers follow below. You can check out our spoiler-free review at this link.
I haven’t enjoyed a spoiler-free MCU title since Avengers: Infinity War. That’s not just because I watch everything in the universe but also because I’m one of those fans who like the spoilers and speculation between releases.
That’s to say that Multiverse of Madness had no surprises left, given the massive marketing campaign and all the leaks that I’ve covered. However, that doesn’t make the movie any less enjoyable. No amount of plot spoilers and marketing clips can prepare you for the flow and feel of the film.
But I realized watching Doctor Strange 2 that not all fans will get the same experience. We have diehard fans that avoid spoilers. And we have casual viewers that do not see all the MCU movies and TV shows — our handy MCU timeline should help with that.
Wanda is the villain of Doctor Strange 2
The film’s biggest shock is that Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) is the main Doctor Strange 2 villain. She’s ruthless, violent, and ready to kill anyone who stands in her way, no matter the cost. Wanda’s arc will cause some division among fans, especially if you haven’t seen absolutely everything in the MCU that impacted Wanda’s evolution.
But Wanda turning into a full-fledged villain only to somewhat redeem herself by the end of Doctor Strange 2 isn’t a problem. This is the natural evolution of the character. The real Wanda problem is that you have to see WandaVision before going to Multiverse of Madness.
Doctor Strange 2 fills in the blanks to some extent. You can absolutely enjoy the movie and accept that Wanda has descended into madness no matter how much you love Olsen’s character. But if the last time you saw her was at the end of Endgame, in that conversation with Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), then the transition to evil might be more difficult to stomach.
It’ll feel like the finale of Game of Thrones, where Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) suddenly goes villain on everyone. That showed certainly lacked more exposition to show her descent into madness. But with Wanda, we have all that in WandaVision.
Why WandaVision is a must-watch MCU event
The TV show gives us a closer look into Wanda’s inner workings. It details her multiple levels of trauma and grief that culminated with the loss of Vision (Paul Bettany) in Infinity War. Before that, Wanda lost her parents and her brother.
Even in WandaVision, Wanda has to accept the loss of an imaginary Vision and their imaginary kids. These are the same children we see in Doctor Strange 2. The kids that Wanda hears in the WandaVision post-credits.
If you don’t have that context, it’ll be more difficult to accept that Wanda can be that ruthless. That she can kill people with such ease, including other Avengers or Illuminati. That she is willing to kidnap another Wanda’s children and murder that variant from a different universe. And that she’s chasing after another kid through the multiverse to do it.
And it’s Marvel’s fault for that. Wanda became a full villain immediately after WandaVision, making the show a must-watch MCU installment. But Marvel hasn’t really underscored the show’s importance for this Multiverse of Madness story. And the Multiverse of Madness trailers hid Wanda’s true nature in the movie.
MCU fans can’t seamlessly transition from Endgame to Doctor Strange 2 when it comes to this character. They need the Disney Plus show for that.
Put differently, you can watch Doctor Strange 2 without seeing Loki, which is the TV show that explains why the multiverse is in disarray.
Why it all makes sense
Let’s remember that we’re not looking at Wanda’s first time as a villain. She started as an antagonist in Age of Ultron, where she fought the Avengers with various degrees of success. Then, in WandaVision, she kidnaps an entire town to serve as extras in her imaginary perfect world with Vision. Doctor Strange 2 just delivers the massive third strike. It’s shocking, but it’s not surprising.
Wanda might break your heart in Doctor Strange 2, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up liking her. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) had a similar journey. But he went from villain to hero.
Then there’s Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) in Civil War. Depending on whose side you take, one is the villain. But you like them both and learn to accept what they do. Interestingly enough, Wanda’s actions caused a rift between the two in that movie. But at least that was a mistake on her part.
Add to all that the Darkhold, and you end up with this ferocious, overpowered Wanda. The dark magic book took hold over her already-troubled mind, amplifying are inner demons while simultaneously giving her powers, unlike anything the Avengers had to face.
That’s why, by the way, the Illuminati lose so badly. They underestimate the witch from the start. First, it’s Captain Marvel (Lashana Lynch) telling Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) that they’ll deal with Wanda if she decides to attack. Then we have Mister Fantastic (John Krasinski) revealing to Wanda how Black Bolt (Anson Mount) can kill her. The team that beat Thanos (Josh Brolin) on Titan never expected such opposition from Wanda.
Doctor Strange is like Wanda, but not quite
There are parallels between Wanda and Strange that are immediately clear, especially if you’ve watched their entire stories so far. Strange lost a sibling like Wanda, but it wasn’t as brutal. He also lost the love of his life and discovered that he was doomed to repeat it in every universe. Despite loving Christine in each one of them.
And he lost his former life, although the parallel is not perfect. He went through a life-threatening accident that ruined his hands and career. Wanda witnessed her parents killed as a child, and then ended up being experimented on.
Finally, Strange started using the Darkhold and dark magic. But he didn’t go down the rabbit hole as far as Wanda.
Ultimately, each of the two characters coped with their traumas differently. The multiverse shows that many other Strange variants become villains in their realities like Wanda does in the MCU.
Can Wanda be redeemed after Doctor Strange 2?
With that in mind, can Wanda be redeemed after Doctor Strange 2? First of all, we have no idea if she’s still alive. If she is, wiping her record clean might not be that simple. She needs help, the kind of support she has failed to receive since Endgame. By the way, the action in WandaVision takes place in late 2023, while Doctor Strange 2 happens in late 2025.
Wanda has never answered for the WandaVision crimes, and she knows the bill comes due. Her talk with Strange early in the movie shows that she expected some sort of consequences. But in Multiverse of Madness, she went a lot further, killing dozens of sorcerers at Kamar-Taj. Add the Illuminati massacre, and it’ll be challenging to forgive Wanda.
Then again, maybe this Wanda is dead for good. Marvel certainly has a rich multiverse to draw characters from, and we do have a reasonable Wanda in Earth-838.
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