Given all the exciting Doctor Strange 2 cameo leaks and rumors, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that Multiverse of Madness is a sequel to Doctor Strange. There might be several exciting superheroes in the film, including a prominent role for Scarlet Witch. But it’s a story that’s mainly about Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). That’s something to keep in mind while managing expectations for the big events that are about to go down.
It’s also something that the film’s writer made clear in an interview ahead of the Multiverse of Madness premiere. On top of that, Sam Raimi also touched on how Multiverse of Madness will impact Doctor Strange’s arc. Some spoilers might follow below, so proceed with caution.
What will Multiverse of Madness be about?
The trailers and TV spots all paint the same partially misleading picture. Something is threatening the frail equilibrium of the multiverse, and it’ll be up to Doctor Strange to fix it. The problem will require Avengers-grade assistance. That’s why Strange will try to get Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) to help. But Wanda will turn out to be the film’s main antagonist, something the trailers tease only loosely.
Doctor Strange will travel to other realities with the help of America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez). She is a superhero being whose power is to open portals between different universes. And that’s a power that Wanda will want. Again, that’s a plot detail that’s not coming from the trailers or TV ads.
Strange will meet all sorts of characters along the way, including at least an evil variant of himself. And director Sam Raimi did tease in an interview recently that we’ll see multiple variants of Strange and Wanda in the film. Some will be better than others.
Sam Raimi’s take on Doctor Strange
Speaking in Berlin during the Multiverse of Madness press tour, Sam Raimi further elaborated on what the movie means for Doctor Strange. He teased that the new story will further enrich Stephen’s arc:
He’s grown a bit throughout the course of the Avengers movies, I’ve seen. I think at the beginning of this film, he starts as a very self-assured – perhaps too much so – person who feels he’s the one that’s best in control of all the decisions. It’s safest that way… He has the most faith in himself, and not so much in other people. And I think in this picture, this little chapter in his life, he learns to let go a little bit. That it’s not all about him [and] that he can trust others.
But it’s Michael Waldron that drove that point home — that Multiverse of Madness is a Doctor Strange story. The writer worked on Loki before the Doctor Strange 2 sequel. That MCU TV show sets in motion all the multiverse events that we’ve seen so far.
Waldron told SFX Magazine that the story’s main point is to focus on the titular character, no matter how exciting the multiverse prospects are.
“The danger is you can expand your scope too wide, and you can actually reduce the stakes if you don’t make it personal as you go bigger and wider,” Waldron said. “But the opportunity in the multiverse is to have characters confront literal ‘What ifs?’ and alternate versions of themselves and perhaps others in their lives. It’s an interesting way to hold up a mirror to characters.”
Waldron on continuing the character arc
The implication is that fans should remember that Multiverse of Madness is a story centered around Doctor Strange. This can help them temper expectations, especially when it comes to crazy cameos.
“In every way, it shapes the emotional heart of the story. It has to,” he said. “The multiverse isn’t just a MacGuffin where we’re like, ‘Okay, this is just a kitschy thing that we’re playing with in this movie.’ If you’re faced with alternate realities and with alternate versions of yourself that has to become the emotional heart, exploring who you might be if you were a different version of yourself, if you made other choices, the right choices or the wrong choices. It’s complex stuff, emotionally, and that’s exactly why it’s so thrilling and so great for a cast as dramatically talented as this one.”
Further reinforcing the idea that Multiverse of Madness is a Doctor Strange story “above all else,” Waldron said he watched the first episode in the franchise multiple times.
“I wanted to figure out, ‘Okay, who was that character in that movie? Who was he at the end of it?’ And then, ‘Alright, so what has he been through over the course of these Avengers movies and everything else, leading through to Spider-Man?’ And that’s really where we picked up.”
We’ll see exactly where Doctor Strange’s journey gets us in a couple of weeks when the film hits theaters. Waldron’s full interview with SFX Magazine is available in the current issue.
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