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How Doctor Strange 2 Could Change The MCU Forever

"Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness" promises to be a Marvel adventure like any other. Hopping across dimensions, from one reality to the next, the Master Of The Mystic Arts will have to contend with more than an evil wizard as he did before (though there promises to be at least one of those, too). From the trailers, we'll see Strange battle inter-dimensional monsters, alternate demonic versions of himself, and perhaps even one of his own allies in the form of Wanda Maximoff, now transformed into the dreaded Scarlet Witch — one of the most powerful beings in the cosmos.

Strange will ally himself with new hero America Chavez, meet a council of MCU elders, and if reports are accurate, he may meet up with heroes and villains from previous movies outside of the MCU. All this adds up to a game changing film in Marvel's grand pantheon, a story that promises to up-end everything we know. After the events of "Loki," "What If...?" and "Spider-Man: No Way Home," Strange will be faced with the full might of the multiverse, and nothing may ever be the same. 

From the introduction of new heroes, variants, and zombies, here are just some of the ways we think the film could change the MCU forever.

Cracking the multiverse wide open

Maybe you've seen the Disney+ series "Loki," where Marvel introduced the Time Variance Authority: an extra-dimensional organization that prevents alternate timelines from existing. If so, you witnessed the true birth of the multiverse as a veritable team of parallel Loki's teamed up to stop the TVA. You saw the man behind the curtain — an alternate reality version of Marvel's time traveling Kang The Conqueror — killed, allowing untold numbers of parallel realities to come flooding into existence. Maybe you saw "What If...?" explore some of those universes, too.

You may also have seen "Spider-Man: No Way Home" where Dr. Strange himself cast a spell-gone-wrong that cracked open the barriers between the different realities. But those were just the appetizers, and "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness" is going to be the main course. In the sequel, we're expected to see the full on explosion of the multiverse as Strange and his companions travel between countless alternate universes. We still know surprisingly little about the plot, but we know that the story may very well encompass more than just one movie universe. 

From here, the MCU will never be the same. With audiences now fully embracing Marvel's multiverse, there's nothing stopping Marvel from exploring different realities in new projects, and we fully expect this to become common practice. New movies, television series', even animated series, can now crossover with one another at will, with no need for complex explanations. Anything is truly possible thanks to Doctor Strange finally exploring the vast reaches of the ever-expanding multiverse.

Spin-Off Showcase

If the rumor mill is to be believed, we may be in for a cavalcade of guest stars and cameos in "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness." We may not see much of them, but if it's true that Dr. Strange will be visiting a wide variety of alternate realities throughout his next adventure, we could be treated to even more new and different variants of the MCU than we've ever seen before. In fact, we've already glimpsed actor Benedict Cumberbatch playing at least two new different versions of Doctor Strange in the trailers for the film, and director Sam Raimi has teased that we may see versions of other characters as well.

If it shakes out the way we expect, don't be surprised of the "Doctor Strange" sequel turns out to be a proving ground for new characters, too. The introduction of parallel universes and inter-dimensional heroes could easily make the film a showcase for upcoming spin-offs. It could take the form of the rumored animated series featuring Marvel's zombies or a big screen solo feature for America Chavez, too. And those are just the two we've already seen. 

With room to explore the multiverse we could get meet heroes from "The X-Men," "The Fantastic Four" or "Blade" that we already know are coming. Outside the prime MCU, we could be getting alternate worlds with super-powered multiverse champions who could be spun off into their own projects, leading to an entire slate of expanded universe titles drawn from the events in the film.

Movies and television are now one

When "Agents of SHIELD" was first launched on ABC, it was said that "It's All Connected" and brief appearances from Nick Fury and others seemed to stay true to their word. Netflix's "Daredevil," "Luke Cage," "Iron Fist" and "Jessica Jones" too were ostensibly set in the MCU, while "Agent Carter" spun off Hayley Atwell's character into her own series. But despite the connections, they didn't feel as much a part of the MCU as fans had wanted. The introduction of original streaming series' on Disney+ seemed to change all that with "WandaVision," "Loki," and "Hawkeye" landing in 2021. These new shows were led by former "Avengers" stars, boasted big screen budgets, and continued the adventures from where we last saw them in theaters.

But "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness" will be the first time that we'll see the stories from television fed back into the feature films, instead of just the other way around. (Charlie Cox's Daredevil appearing in "No Way Home" barely counts as a continuing story.) Featuring Wanda's adventures just after the events of her streaming series, we know it will continue the story right where it left off for her. And if rumors are true, we may see the same with "Loki," with star Tom Hiddleston said to appear in the film after the events of his own series.

No matter how it shakes out, it's clear that with the arrival of the "Doctor Strange" sequel it will now be impossible to separate MCU films from their streaming TV series. There is no telling now where one ends and the others begin, marking a clear change in the MCU that there may be no going back from.

Team-ups are the new solo film

Since the dawn of superhero films, they have almost always focused on a singular comic book figure: Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, or the Hulk. A second kind of film eventually emerged, with the likes of "X-Men," "The Fantastic Four" and eventually "The Avengers." But now, with "Multiverse of Madness" being the second team-up film in the MCU after "Thor: Ragnarok" paired the God of Thunder with the Jade Giant, the MCU is firmly cementing the era of the dynamic duos: two equal level heroes teaming up in a single film.

Sure, we've seen the likes of Bruce Banner making appearances in "Iron Man 3" or the "Spider-Man" films featuring other MCU heroes (Doctor Strange himself gave Spidey an assist in "No Way Home") but those were more like extended cameos. The "Thor" threequel and now "Multiverse Of Madness" feature secondary heroes with starring roles alongside the film's titular lead, and if it is the box office hit that everyone expects, it may be tough to put the genie back into that bottle. 

We already know that the "Captain Marvel" sequel will feature not one, not two, but three lead heroes, with Carol Danvers teaming up with Monica Rambeau and Kamala Khan. With the disappointment of "The Eternals," we could very well see those heroes getting an assist from a big Marvel mainstay, should they get a sequel. Even on the small screen, "The Falcon And The Winter Soldier" has proven that the format works, so future MCU standalones and so-called "solo" films may no longer be truly solo.

The Illuminati

Introduced in the Marvel comics universe in 2005, the Illuminati were said to have existed for decades, formed in the wake of the Kree/Skrull war. On its council sat Namor the Sub-Mariner, Professor X, Mr. Fantastic, Tony Stark, Black Bolt of the Inhumans, and Doctor Strange himself. While not a formal organization, they have met over the years to share information and prevent numerous disasters on Earth. "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness" will be introducing the Illuminati into the MCU, and we already know it will feature at least one familiar face from another franchise: Professor X, as played by Patrick Stewart. 

Though we still don't know exactly which heroes will sit on the Illuminati's council, if they're to be any kind of reflection of their comic book counterparts, they'll have a major role to play. It's also possible, if not likely, that Doctor Strange will join the group (assuming a variant of him isn't already a member).

While still very little is known about this multiverse Illuminati — whether they watch over a single reality or all of them, or whether their members hail from multiple universes or a single timeline — it would make sense for their presence to continue past this one single film. It's also possible that they could play a similar role as the Time Variance Authority, or even supplant them, in monitoring timelines and events across the multiverse.

Resurrecting the dead

Since the inception of the MCU, the studio has gone through dozens of characters, with some of them even coming off the board entirely through memorable death scenes. This includes Quicksilver, who died in Sokovia during the climax of "Avengers: Age Of Ultron." If Marvel has any regrets about letting one of the most famous Avengers in the comics make just one appearance on the big screen before his death, "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness" would be the perfect time and place to bring him back. 

With Pietro's sister Wanda grieving her children and looking to bring them back to the land of the living after the events of "WandaVision," she may be looking to do the same for her brother. If she's traveling the multiverse with Doctor Strange, she may very well find a reality where he lives too, and it may be too tempting a proposition to pass up to bring him back with her into the prime MCU timeline. Perhaps even from a reality where it was Wanda who died in Sokovia.

Beyond Quicksilver of course, the "Doctor Strange" sequel now offers Marvel Studios a jumping off point to collect long-dead characters and bring them back. From Jasper Sitwell to Obadiah Stane, or even Black Widow, there are a number of memorable Marvel characters audiences would probably love to see return — and the multiverse could be the way they do it while not undermining the meaning of their loss, even if it doesn't happen here.

Old movies live again

After it was announced that major reshoots were underway for "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness," and talk pointed to the studio adding a number of cameos — possibly from older Marvel movies outside the MCU — fans  began wondering who could be coming back. Rumors that Wesley Snipes was wanted for a return as Blade soon circulated, while we now know that Patrick Stewart's Professor X will indeed be returning.

Between official appearances and rumored cameos, it looks like "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness" will indeed see the studio harken back to films long ago. Following the overwhelmingly positive response to "Spider-Man: No Way Home" — that brought back both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield — there's big box office reasons to do it, too. And while the billion-dollar "Spidey" sequel having already revisited non-MCU films , "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness" could be the first that sees our heroes cross into old movies on purpose, opening up a whole host of possibilities. 

In fact, if it proves popular with fans, there's nothing stopping Marvel from returning to those movie universes alongside the MCU. Maybe we could see more movies set in Fox's "X-Men" series, or Nicholas Cage return as Ghost Rider in a film finally worthy of the character. Perhaps Thomas Jane could take back his role as Frank Castle, or Snipes get his own miniseries on Disney+. It may seem far-fetched, but "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness" opens up to many opportunities to say anything is impossible.

Making Strange the GOAT

During his first film, Dr. Stephen Strange began his ascent to Master Of The Mystic Arts, training under The Ancient One and Baron Mordo in Kamar Taj. The Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton, was the most powerful wizard on Earth, and ran the magical realms as the Sorcerer Supreme. But when the Ancient One died at the end of the film, the mantle passed to her newest disciple, and Dr. Strange became the Sorcerer Supreme himself. 

Following the events of "Avengers: Infinity War," Strange was "snapped" out of existence by Thanos. Wong who took up the title of Sorcerer Supreme in his absence, and despite Strange's return in "Avengers: Endgame," he's retained it at least through the events of "Spider-Man: No Way Home." One thing we very well could see in "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness" is the title passing back to Stephen Strange. Hopefully not because Wong meets his end, but because Strange's experience and power grow, and make him worthy of the title of the greatest sorcerer in the realm. 

Traveling across the multiverse, Strange may even claim new abilities that could define him as a greater force in the MCU than we've seen, and we're here for it.

Making Wanda the WOAT

If "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness" is going to break the mold of Marvel movies, it's going to be with its villain. The MCU hasn't been without its criticisms, and chief among them has been their lackluster, cookie cutter enemies. This time around though, there may be a twist, with longtime Avenger Wanda Maximoff — now the Scarlet Witch -- possibly being the film's major big bad. Though it wouldn't be the first time a hero was the antagonist, as we saw Captain America clash with Tony Stark in "Captain America: Civil War," making Wanda the primary villain — even if its a variant from an alternate dimension — would certainly throw the MCU formula on its head.

Making a hero the diabolical villain in the "Doctor Strange" sequel could open a door that would be hard to close, too. There have been a number of memorable storylines in Marvel history that featured a good guy breaking bad and if the response to Wanda being Strange's most dangerous foe is a strong one, don't expect Marvel to shy away from bringing some of those stories into the MCU. Whether it's making Professor X into the overlord Onslaught in a future "X-Men" film, or pitting Earth's heroes against Bruce Banner in "World War Hulk" — or even Captain America revealed as a brainwashed HYDRA agent — the sky's the limit if Marvel embraces this as a new trend.

The MCU's first horror story on the big screen

Upon its announcement at San Diego Comic Con 2019, the title of "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness," along with the film's then-director Scott Derrikson, suggested we'd be seeing their first Marvel horror movie.  But less than a year later, when Derrikson exited the project, many wondered what this meant for the prospect of the sequel embracing the horror genre. Thankfully, it would be "Evil Dead" creator and director Sam Raimi who'd step in to helm the picture, and he was quick to dispel the idea that the movie would be just another Marvel adventure. 

"[The film] is spooky at some times and scary at others," he told Fandango recently. "It's unknown what you'll find in the multiverse. It's within that unknown that suspense and darkness exists. A tool to titillate the audience's fear." Given the tone of the first two trailers, we are expecting a different kind of movie, with real elements of horror to shock and defy audience's imaginations. Should it succeed, we doubt this will be the last time that Marvel ventures into darker, scarier territory. 

On the streaming side, Marvel's already experimenting with darker stories, and one could say "WandaVision," and "Loki" cross somewhat into horror. "Moon Knight" seems to embrace it more thoroughly, but once "The Multiverse Of Madness" enters those waters on the big screen, it may be hard to turn back.

Answering old questions

Between "Agents Of SHIELD" on ABC, and "Daredevil," "Jessica Jones" and others on Netflix — not to mention the likes of "Cloak & Dagger" and "The Runaways" elsewhere — there are a number of TV shows that are said to take place somewhere in the MCU. Unfortunately, connections have been few and tenuous at times, with many wondering if these shows actually existed within or without the confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The existence of Coulson — and appearances by Nick Fury, Sif, and others — seemed to suggest "Agents Of SHIELD" was indeed set in the MCU. But plenty of other evidence seemed to say otherwise.

Over on Netflix, passing references were made to the Avengers, but outside of a few oblique nods, the likes of "Daredevil" and "Luke Cage" seemed to take place in their own pocket universe. But Charlie Cox's appearance in "Spider-Man: No Way Home" as Daredevil and Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin showing up in "Hawkeye" indicated they were indeed the MCU. It's been suggested that the Daredevil and Kingpin we've seen are variants, and still others believe that "Agents Of SHIELD" too could be taking place in a branching timeline.

Now, "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness" has the chance to set the record straight. It could answer our questions once and for all, and firmly set these shows either within or without the MCU. It could also open up the possibility for future series set outside the prime timeline, that would still all technically be within the MCU multiverse.

Opening the door to major recasting

When "Iron Man" first debuted in 2008, the studio must have had sky-high dreams of lasting through 10, maybe 20 years of stories, but surely never envisioned the blockbuster success they've had. They probably put little thought at the time into what they might do if a star actor got too old for a part, or wanted out of a role after a decade and a half of films. They likely never suspected either that an actor might become so inextricably linked to a role that they'd be impossible to replace.

But here we are in 2022, and the likes of Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr. have become so beloved that we can't imagine anyone else in the role. But we also can't imagine Marvel saying goodbye to iconic characters like Tony Stark and Steve Rogers forever. That's where "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness" could come in and change the MCU forever. If rumors are to be believed, we may very well meet alternate Avengers, played by different actors, as Strange crosses between realities. 

This hook offers MCU an unprecedented opportunity to recast major movie roles with new actors in a way that takes nothing away from their previous performers. Whether that means Tom Cruise actually becomes the MCU's next Tony Stark, or a new young actor steps in to play an alternate Steve Rogers, it solves the dilemma of recasting if the multiverse is involved.

America Chavez

In addition to Wanda Maximoff, "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness" will see the Master Of The Mystic Arts team up with another hero from the Marvel Universe. Introduced in 2011, Chavez may have initially taken the name of classic Golden Age hero "Miss America" but the two characters were almost nothing alike. Far from the 1940s patriotic woman superhero — a kind of female Captain America — Chavez was a young and rebellious teen with the power to punch holes in reality and travel the multiverse at will. As such, her appearance in "Multiverse Of Madness" makes a lot more sense, and may also mean more than you might think.

Eventually in the comics, Chavez would join the Young Avengers alongside Kate Bishop, Wiccan, Speed, Hulkling, and Kid Loki. With many of those characters having recently made their first appearances in the MCU, it would seem a version of that teen team is on their way. Likewise, having a hero who can pass through alternate realities at will opens up all sorts of possibilities. If she isn't involved in founding the Young Avengers, Marvel could tweak the offshoot "X-Men" team The Exiles — who traveled the multiverse themselves — to include Chavez.

A new MCU leader

When casting the role of Dr. Stephen Strange, eventual Sorcerer Supreme, the thought among Marvel's brain trust must have been 'We need an actor with enough gravitas to stand toe-to-toe with Robert Downey Jr.'s indomitable attitude, but also Chris Hemsworth's towering screen presence." And they found the right person in "Sherlock" star Benedict Cumberbatch, whose acting talent is hard to match, and who is never overshadowed on screen — no matter who he's acting against. 

As Doctor Strange, Cumberbatch proved himself as a new and powerful figure in the MCU, able to credibly give orders to the Avengers, and stand as a leader in the superhero community. Now, with Stark gone and Rogers retired, it may be time for Strange to step up and make that leadership official. If not as a leader in the Avengers, than as the Earthbound figurehead who stands as a beacon of righteousness among the world's collective heroes, as a mentor and respected master. 

And if he's going to do it, it will all start in "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness," where he can show the limitless powers he possesses. He can show the mastery over the multiverse, and the respect he commands across it.  

Spark of the Midnight Sons

Across Marvel Comics, Dr. Strange largely occupied his own little corner of the 616 universe — a world of magic, fantasy, and the supernatural. Though he's adventured with the Avengers from time to time, even joining them on occasion officially, he's been part of other hero collectives more often. In the early 1990s, Strange founded a group of supernatural heroes called The Midnight Sons, originally brought together to battle the forces of darkness led by Lilith Morningstar. Over the years, he'd become an official member of the team himself, rather than just its architect.

It's worth noting that the roster of the Midnight Sons is a who's who of current and upcoming Marvel projects, including Moon Knight, Blade, and Werewolf by Night. With so many due to hit the MCU in the coming years, it seems possible — if not likely — that Marvel could be planning to form the team headed up by Doctor Strange. And if "The Multiverse Of Madness" is going to feature cameos galore, and explore the darker, more gothic horror side of the MCU, the film could very well set the stage for the horror heroes to assemble.

Into the Zombie-verse

Ever since its first announcement, we expected "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness" to explore many different parallel realities. From other movie universes, to slightly altered versions of the MCU, it was all on the table. But there was still room for a few surprises, and the second trailer for the film gave us all a shock when it suggested that we'd be getting a visit to the Marvel Zombies universe. 

First introduced in comics form in the mid 2000s by "Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman, they made their screen debut in 2021 in the animated MCU spinoff "What If...?" That episode firmly established that a version of the MCU overtaken by a zombie plague existed somewhere out there in the multiverse, but few suspected that we'd get to see that world in live action so soon. But if the trailers are to be believed, we will indeed get to see Doctor Strange as a zombie wizard, and Scarlet Witch as an undead sorceress. 

What could this mean for the MCU? How about a "Marvel Zombies" live action streaming series, where actors like Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, or even forgotten stars like Tim Blake Nelson could return to the same (but different) roles? It also goes beyond the mere introduction of the undead into the MCU, an exciting enough prospect on its own — with the studio's willingness to bring the very gruesome world of "Marvel Zombies" it means that nothing is out of bounds anymore. Comics, stories, and characters we might once have thought would never make it to the screen may now have a future in the MCU.

Powering up the true Defenders

Often thought of as a solo hero, Dr. Strange has been anything but. Outside of his adventures with the Avengers and the Midnight Sons, there's another longtime team you've likely heard of, that Strange himself founded decades ago: The Defenders. In the original comics, Strange brought together the Hulk and Namor to form the group, eventually adding the likes of The Silver Surfer, Nighthawk, Hellcat, and others. The team had a rotating roster over the years, and would be reformed in the '90s as a The New Defenders, comprised of a different group of heroes hand-selected by Strange for each mission.

While at first glance the Defenders might seem like a longshot to get their first appearance in "The Multiverse Of Madness," it's not as odd as you might expect. We've already seen that the Illuminati will appear, and in the comics, Defenders stalwart Namor is a member. Likewise, one of the variants of Doctor Strange in the film has been dubbed "Defender Strange." While we don't know if this is just a nod to his classic comics team, or indicates he has already formed the group in a separate reality, it seems the pieces are in place for Marvel to introduce them if they want to go down that route.

With Namor, Hulk, Strange, and even The Silver Surfer all now under the MCU banner, and The Avengers seemingly disbanded, the timing couldn't be better to bring the super-team The Defenders to the fore.