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Did Doctor Strange 2 Drop A Subtle Thunderbolts Hint?

Contains spoilers for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness"

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" finally gives fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe their fullest look yet at the wonders of the multiverse. Following up on the events of "WandaVision" and "Spider-Man: No Way Home," the movie shakes up the status quo for both its main characters and the wider MCU as Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) battle one another throughout the multiverse. Along the way, they encounter alternate versions of themselves, as well as never-before-seen characters from other realities.

Being such a dense movie means there are plenty of blink-and-you'll-miss-it Easter eggs packed throughout its runtime. Director Sam Raimi is a huge Marvel fan, and it seems like he and the rest of the creative teams working on the film didn't miss an opportunity to place clever nods to the wider Marvel canon — some of which likely won't be noticed by fans until a second viewing.

However, eagle-eyed superfans may already have spotted an Easter egg that hints toward a major character involved with the Thunderbolts, a group of villains Baron Zemo rebranded as heroes in order to win the public's trust after the Avengers were defeated (via Marvel). It's a subtle reference, but here's why this small detail might mean more than you think.

Could an unassuming crate suggest a connection to Zemo and the Thunderbolts?

Early in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," Doctor Strange visits Wanda for help. She appears to be tending an apple orchard, but the entire location turns out to be an illusion she has created with the power gained from the Darkhold. While maintaining the illusion, Wanda snips branches from the apple trees and puts them in wooden crates. One of those crates is shown upside-down with a stamp reading "Volkers," which you can see briefly in footage incorporated into a recent BBC Radio 1 interview with Elizabeth Olsen (via YouTube). Even though the shot is brief, the camera does hold on the crate for a few seconds, as if subconsciously asking the audience to take note.

"Volkers" most likely refers to Wendell Volker, a history grad student whose thesis on the Zemo barony is explored in the four-issue comic series "Thunderbolts Presents: Zemo — Born Better." Volker interacts with versions of several characters we've now seen in the MCU, most notably Baron Helmut Zemo (played by Daniel Brühl in the MCU), the leader of the Thunderbolts. After Zemo goes missing, Volker figures out he's been thrown backward in time and attempts to bring himself back to the present. He also seeks insight from Reed Richards, another character who appears, albeit briefly, in "Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness." In his quest to bring Zemo to justice, Volker kills members of Zemo's extended family to bring him back to the present by using their blood as a temporal magnet.

While Volker has not appeared in the MCU, it seems he might be lurking around somewhere based on this cryptic Easter egg from "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness."