Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ MCU connections

Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange in Marvel Studios' DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange in Marvel Studios' DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved. /

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has many connections to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, and beyond!

We are now firmly planted in the age of the Marvel multiverse. Just as Spider-Man: No Way Home correlated with both the extended Marvel Cinematic Universe and separate movie franchises, the multiverse in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opens the door for links to other Marvel universes.

Before the good doctor blasts through into alternate realities, the movie sets up its key plotlines in his world. And even though a brand-new hero, Miss America, plays a major part in the narrative, many of the story threads are direct continuations from previous MCU content.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a sequel to several movies/shows

Doctor Strange: Of course some this standalone sequel follows up on arcs that were introduced in the first Doctor Strange. Rachel McAdams plays Strange’s love interest Dr. Christine Palmer, who does not show up in any other MCU movies outside of this series. After failing to treat Dr. Palmer properly in the original movie, Strange attends her wedding to another man in Multiverse of Madness. Dr. West is also a guest at the wedding – Michael Stuhlbarg has only featured in the standalone Strange franchise. The masters of the mystic arts’ homebase of Kamar-Taj is also a pivotal setting in the sequel after featuring heavily in Doctor Strange.

Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame: The Decimation event where Thanos vanished half the population for five years has understandably become standard topic of conversation throughout the MCU and is brought up in the franchise’s latest film as well. Strange speaks with Dr. West about the experience, and the conflict with Thanos is even referenced in an alternate reality, with a different outcome than the one we watched unfold in the MCU.

Spider-Man: No Way Home: The last time we saw Doctor Strange was in the web-slinger’s latest adventure, where his spell goes wrong and Spidey heroes and villains from other dimensions crossover into the MCU. Multiverse of Madness is in a lot of ways just as much a follow-up to No Way Home as Doctor Strange. It is in that Spidey-flick that we learned Wong has been anointed Sorcerer Supreme. Even though the final enchantment erased everyone’s memory of Peter Parker, Strange still remembers everything else that took place – at least enough to tell America about the multiversal mishaps.

WandaVision: The Disney Plus series is just as important to Multiverse of Madness as any MCU movie that came before. Almost everything that Scarlet Witch plans in this film had its seeds planted in WandaVision. In that show, she realized the full potential of her powers, came into possession of the Darkhold, and created a family. Her twins, Billy and Tommy, have an unexpected amount of screentime in this sequel.

Enter the Illuminati

When Doctor Strange and America jump to Earth-838, they are taken into custody, to be judged for messing with the multiverse. Their robotic guards are versions of Ultron. Apparently in this alternate reality, Ultron may have never turned against humanity and instead protected his creators, which was Iron Man’s original intention in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The guards take Doctor Strange to meet with the council of the Illuminati, which is made up of these six members:

Mordo: This Mordo is played again by Chiwetel Ejiofor and is the Sorcerer Supreme of 838 following the death of Strange. Instead of Thanos collecting all of the Infinity Stones, the Illuminati defeat him on Titan, but Doctor Strange is then sentenced to death by the elite group of heroes because his methods were becoming too dangerous.

Captain Marvel: Captain Marvel, in Multiverse, is not Carol Danvers, like in Earth-616 – it is Maria Rambeau, with Lashana Lynch reprising her role from the Captain Marvel movie. Carol and Maria were best friends and both were pilots in the air force. In this universe, Maria gained the powers of the Tesseract instead of Carol. Just like Carol in the Avengers, Maria appears to be one of the most powerful members of this team.

Captain Carter: One of the greatest MCU returns of the entire franchise is Hayley Atwell in Multiverse of Madness. After playing Peggy Carter in the movies, and headlining her own TV series, Agent Carter, Atwell voiced the character in the animated What If…? The latter is the version that appears in Multiverse of Madness. In that reality, Peggy receives the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers and she becomes Captain Carter. In both the show and this Doctor Strange sequel, she exhibits every bit the honor and heroism as Captain America did in more than half a dozen movies. Despite her teammates falling around her, Captain Carter fights relentlessly against Scarlet Witch. When Wanda asks Peggy if she has had enough, Captain Carter echoes the famous Captain America quote – “I can do this all day.”

Black Bolt: Aside from the fact that Black Bolt is commonly a member of the Illuminati in the comics, no one could have foreseen the reemergence of Anson Mount as the king of the Inhumans in an actual MCU blockbuster. He previously played the mute hero in a short-lived television series that had zero connections to this universe. A common complaint of his character in Inhumans was how little he used his immense powers. And here, in a few scenes, we watch him unleash his destructive voice almost as many times as he does in the entire Inhumans series. Boltagon is the executioner who extinguishes his Doctor Strange on Titan.

Professor X: Another astonishing inclusion is the beloved Patrick Stewart as the founder of the X-Men. Although Stewart has played Professor X in many X-Men films, mutants have never been a part of the MCU primary timeline. After it is revealed that the Illuminati needed to destroy their Doctor Strange, Charles is the one member who still has hope that the man standing before him can help save the multiverse. He repeats a version of the same line that Xavier proclaimed in X-Men: Days of Future Past, “just because someone stumbles and loses their way, doesn’t mean they’re lost forever.”

Mister Fantastic: And most unbelievable of all is the first appearance of John Krasinski as the Fantastic Four’s leader. Ever since Marvel Studios gained the rights to Marvel’s first family, Krasinski’s name has popped up to star as Reed Richards. The Fantastic Four will have their own MCU film soon enough, but does Krasinski’s appearance in Multiverse of Madness confirm that he will lead that cast? As of now, the role is still uncast.

Missing Links

Even with an abundance of MCU interconnectedness, there are quite a few storylines from previous content that this film seemed primed to resume, yet conspicuously left out.

Earth-616 Mordo: After the original Mordo vowed to rid the world of sorcerers at the end of the first film, that same Mordo was suspiciously absent in the sequel. Strange does mention him to America, even stating that the Mordo he knows wants to kill him. This hints that something happened between Strange and Mordo between the first and second movie. Surely, this thread will need to be resolved in some form down the line.

Lack of Vision: At the end of WandaVision, Vision’s mind was transferred into a white version of the synthezoid. With the Doctor Strange sequel seemingly concluding Wanda’s MCU arc, one can’t help but wonder where that Vision is during all of this madness. Whatever future storyline he is being saved for, it is hard to imagine it having more of an emotional impact than facing off against a villainous Scarlet Witch.

What If…? evil Strange: Sure, it was great to see a live-action Captain Carter after she kicked butt in What If…? And the zombified Strange in the film’s climax is also a nod to a noteworthy What If…? chapter. But an entire episode of that show was centered on a Doctor Strange that destroyed his universe trying to save Dr. Palmer. He essentially turned into an evil Strange in the process and physically devolves into a broken man that looks almost identical to the version that Strange faces at the end of Multiverse of Madness. Yet that evil Strange recounts a different past that aligns with Wanda’s Multiverse motives and the Strange from What If…? is not seen in the movie.

Loki: The Loki series was the MCU’s first deep dive into the multiverse and years ago Kevin Feige even went on record stating that the show would have ties to Multiverse of Madness. But, other than the idea of the multiverse, none of the plotlines from Loki follow through to this movie. Loki did put even more emphasis on time and the sacred timeline in the end, which could explain its exclusion here. Although, Loki’s season 1 finale, where Sylvie kills a version of Kang that could lead to another multiversal war, would seem to have repercussions in a film about the multiverse.

Instead we are given more starting points, such as Strange meeting Clea (his love interest in the comic books) in the mid-credits scene. So we have to wait longer to see if Loki, or Mordo, or the evil Strange from What If…? will come across Doctor Strange’s path. One final callback to the original movie is that the sorcerer and Clea look to be heading to the Dark Dimension. This is where Strange bargained with the Dread Dormammu and it also happens to be a place that Clea is often associated with.

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What did you think of all the connections in Multiverse of Madness? Are you looking forward to seeing more multiversal characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Let us know in the comments below.