The Sorcerer Supreme of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is returning to movie theaters in a matter of weeks, and things are about to get stranger than ever. Fans have had to wait five years for the Master of the Mystic Arts to headline a sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange, but the wait is almost over. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was scheduled to be released in the United States on March 25, 2022 as part of the MCU’s Phase Four, but has since been pushed back to May 6 due to production shifts.
In the numerous films we’ve seen him appear in so far, Doctor Strange has become a hugely important part of the MCU. He assisted two wayward Asgardian brothers in Thor: Ragnarok and will be trying to help out Spider-Man in Dec. 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home. Of course, his Avengers membership was made official after his crucial roles in the epic Phase Three closers Infinity War and Endgame.
Judging from the title of his impending new film, Stephen Strange’s adventures are about to take the MCU to even wilder places than we’ve previously seen and bring some major darkness to the Sanctum Sanctorum. Sam Raimi has taken the reins of Madness after the first film’s director, Scott Derrickson, stepped aside over creative differences in 2020. The film promises to bring the franchise closer to the horror genre than it’s ever gone before, with Elizabeth Olsen claiming that it’s trying to be the scariest MCU film yet under the direction of the Evil Dead-helmer.
Olsen’s Scarlet Witch will be the customary guest Avenger in the film, though it’s not entirely clear if she’ll help or hinder Benedict Cumberbatch’s Strange. Confirmed to join them are familiar faces from the first Doctor Strange: Benedict Wong as Wong, Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo.
Since Doctor Strange’s introduction to the MCU, we’ve seen him scour future timelines and fade away in the Blip before returning to play a crucial role in defeating Thanos. It’s been quite a journey so far, but a few fan theories for the Multiverse of Madness predict that the rollercoaster ride we’ve been on is far from over. Here are some of the best we’ve found.
1. Kang the Conqueror’s big arrival
We know that Kang is looking like the big bad of the MCU’s Phase Four, and thanks to Loki, we know that variants of him are scattered throughout the unraveling multiverse. Many fans are expecting to see Jonathan Majors return to the role in Doctor Strange’s next big-screen outing, although so far he’s only confirmed to appear in 2023’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. We’re sure to be seeing a lot more of the character from now on, but the big question is which variant or variants might we meet in the Multiverse of Madness?
2. Loki’s return
Disney Plus’ Loki was crucial for establishing the multiverse in the MCU, so it stands to reason that the consequences of the season one cliffhanger will be felt in Multiverse of Madness. In the final episode, Loki and Sylvie’s actions directly led to the unraveling of timestreams, which could be how Loki of Asgard makes a full return to mainstream MCU continuity. Thankfully, Strange already has experience dealing with the God of Mischief.
3. Mordo might not be the enemy everyone’s expecting him to be
The post-credits sequence of Doctor Strange caught up with Mordo a couple months after he left Strange’s side, suggesting that he was ready to take the same direction as his comic book counterpart. As the Ancient One’s former ally says, he’s realized that the role of a sorcerer is to “twist things out of their proper shape, stealing power, perverting nature.”
It pointed towards Mordo becoming a big bad, but is it too soon for that to happen? With Strange consumed by the problematic multiverse, could we be about to meet a more sophisticated future villain willing to fight the madness alongside Strange, even if the Sorcerer Supreme is to blame? That could leave the door open for Mordo to twist things to his advantage in a third film.
4. Enter X-Men?
The emergence of the multiverse means unlimited possibilities when it comes to pulling together Marvel’s vast and wonderful worlds. Before Multiverse of Madness reaches screens, Spider-Man: No Way Home will unleash the villains of Sony’s Spider-Man films in the MCU. Does that mean we could see MCU debuts for the X-Men sooner than we thought?
Marvel properties that lived over at Fox for 20 years, including Fantastic Four and X-Men, have yet to reveal themselves following their arrival at Disney. Some concept art has emerged that could show Professor X making his MCU debut soon alongside Mordo, with rumors persisting that there will be at least one set piece involving characters from Fox’s X-Men films. If not, could Professor X and the expected arrivals of Mr. Fantastic and Namor The Sub-Mariner during Phase Four see the creation of the elite comic book superteam the Illuminati get its start?
5. Doctor Strange is the new leader of the Avengers
Fans are throwing every cape into the running for Avengers’ new leader in the wake of 2019’s Endgame. We’re eagerly awaiting the Avengers’ new direction, but there haven’t been many hints at which superheroes could actually take up the mantle.
If it’s not the right time for the Illuminati to form, could this be the moment when Doctor Strange steps up to the plate? How he deals with Wanda following the devastating events of WandaVision and her newly unlocked powers could be crucial.
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6. Rise of the Midnight Suns
WandaVision put the Darkhold in the hands of a fully-unleashed Scarlet Witch, bringing the supernatural to the forefront of the MCU for the first time since Agents of SHIELD Season 4. We can now expect that side of the MCU to grow moving forward.
The video game Marvel’s Midnight Suns was announced in August 2021 and is based on the Rise of the Midnight Suns comic series from the ’90s. The original superteam brought together characters like Ghost Rider, Morbius the Living Vampire, and Modred the Mystic. Doctor Strange officially joined the team later, but could this be where he sets up a superteam of his own in the MCU?
7. Is this even the real Doctor Strange?
The Secret Invasion miniseries has begun filming, and we can only imagine that it will pick up the deep-seated Skrull plan from the comics series. So far, they may appear a bit nicer than their MCU counterparts, but we’ve known that the shapeshifters have been among us since Captain Marvel. The question is, have they infiltrated Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and if so, to what extent?
Some fans are sure that the Doctor Strange we’ve seen in the Now Way Home teaser trailer might not be all that he appears. The trailer suggests that he’s acting a bit….strange. If he isn’t a Skrull, could he be another imposter? Top suggestions include the Doctor’s demonic opponent Mephisto (surely an MCU adversary at some point) as well as a returning Mysterio and even X-Men mutant Mystique.
8. Wanda’s switched sides
The Multiverse of Madness could prove a pivotal film for Marvel’s comic book mutants, even if we don’t see any X-Men actually appear. Marvel Studios president Kevin Fiege has promised that the X-Men of the MCU will be a different “beast” to those seen for 20 years in the Fox franchise. The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver have already diverged from the mutants in the MCU timeline, but a whole new multiverse awaits.
Things didn’t look good for Wanda at the end of WandaVision. She was immersed in the Darkhold, an ancient book of spells and enormous power constructed of dark matter from the Hell Dimension. If the book doesn’t push Wanda to the dark side, could her curious surroundings at the end of WandaVision hint at someone else pulling the strings? The mountain behind her cabin could be Mount Wundagore, under which the comics tell us is buried the Elder God, Chthon. Chthon left the pages of the Darkhold on Earth as a conduit for his influence. What will this mean for the ever-conflicted Wanda?
9. It’s either Doctor Strange or Scarlet Witch
If the two significant magical figures of the MCU clash in Madness, some fans think that only one can survive. The deaths of Avengers past have proven to shape the MCU heavily so far, so any magical stand-off is likely to have similarly significant consequences. That said, it’s difficult for any comic book character to ever really die. Now that we’ve reached Phase Four, the multiverse has opened up the potential for heroes and villains of the MCU to cheat death endlessly.
We have yet to hear about Doctor Strange becoming a trilogy, and while a second season of Wandavision is expected to happen, that hasn’t been officially confirmed yet, either. This means that neither Wanda nor strange is confirmed to live past the upcoming installment.
10. What if…we’re about to meet a different Doctor Strange?
One of the best episodes from season one of What If..? was “What if… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart?” This dark episode saw an obsessed Strange battling himself, destroying his universe, and condemning himself to an eternity of lonely despair. That is, until The Watcher intervened during the season finale and called on the Doctor to save the multiverse.
That Strange variant was left watching over the stalemate between two of the multiverse’s biggest threats. Could we be ready for a mightier Strange in Madness, one in control of dark magical knowledge and ready to take a more powerful role in the MCU?
We’ll likely have a better idea when Doctor Strange appears in Spider-Man: No Way Home on Dec. 17, 2021 as well as his next big solo outing, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, on May 6, 2022.