12 mad things to know about Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness

Strange days have found Benedict Cumberbatch in the sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange. The upcoming Marvel movie will be the franchise’s 28th entry, bringing a beloved director on board and going darker and deeper into parallel reality lore than ever before.

As usual, Marvel is keeping their spoilery cards relatively close to their chest so as not to frustrate fanboys. Here’s 12 things we can safely tell you before you go mad waiting for Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness.

1. The sequel has had a maddening production schedule due to COVID

From May 2021 to November (a release date snapped up by the hugely successful Spider-Man: No Way Home), then to this March and finally early May: the second stand-alone Strange adventure has been a long time coming. Scarlett Witch actress Elizabeth Olsen explained that some delays were due to a production shutdown in England to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Additional reshoots took place after November 2021, with six weeks of further photography…maybe to address stuff that worked particularly well in the last Spidey movie?

2. Stephen Strange and Wanda Maximoff are gonna get zombified

Disney+ freaked us out with eerie undead variants of many Marvel heroes in the animated series What If?, and now they’re shambling to life (or death) on the big screen. With Doctor Stephen Strange hopping through multiple disturbing parallel universes, some are bound to be a bit icky (Zombie Strange, the malevolent Sinister Strange). He’ll also encounter the overpowered “Defender Strange” and “Supreme Strange”, showing how he could’ve turned out had the events of the MCU thus far gone a tad differently.

3. Elizabeth Olsen says we should be ready for “jump-scare moments”

With Sinister director Scott Derrickson helming the first Strange flick and Evil Dead auteur Sam Raimi on board for this one, audiences might need to steel their jangling nerves. Olsen has gone from playing a delusional, grieving sitcom mum in WandaVision to a perhaps antagonistic version of Scarlett Witch in Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness: she said to IGN that Raimi was “creating as much tension as possible…just ready for them to have that jump-scare moment.” Super-scary times ahead…

4. Rachel McAdams will return as Strange’s forgotten love interest

Christine who? Oh yeah: after Natalie Portman’s role in the first Thor, McAdams was probably the most forgettable female love interest to a genius renegade hero BF. Strange let Doctor Christine Palmer slip through his magic fingers previously so trips to alternate realities will show him the future they might’ve had. She’s getting married off to someone else in this newest feature, leaving Strange to mope around in his Sanctum bachelor pad.

5. It’s Sam Raimi’s return to Marvel, and he’d happily come back yet again

Raimi is a genre legend, making his name in low-budget horror before directing the tremendous Spider-Man trilogy in the early 2000s. A true comic book believer who wanted a challenge after his expensive flop Oz: The Great and Powerful, Raimi called the MCU “the world’s best toy-box”, and enthused: “I’d love to come back and tell another tale, especially with the great management they’ve got there.”

His great work in founding some of today’s superhero pop culture obsession was obvious in Tobey Maguire’s return for No Way Home. Would he work with Maguire and Kirsten Dunst again for another web-slinging adventure? “I don’t know if Marvel would be interested in that right now”, he said to Fandango, “but it sounds beautiful.”

6. Professor Charles Xavier will prooobably show up

Fans listening closely to the sequel’s trailer shot up in their seats when they heard a familiar, commanding voice say “we should tell him the truth” to the handcuffed Doc. The side of that bald head gently creeping into the side of the frame is surely Patrick Stewart, confirming that Xavier’s X-Men should soon be introduced into the MCU.

Strange and Xavier are both members of omnipotent secret society the Illuminati in various comic book continuities. This may be the strained start to a beautiful friendship, then.

7. Portal-hopping teen America Chavez will get her introduction

Peter Parker is occupied with other important stuff, so Strange needs a new plucky teen sidekick. That role will be played by America Chavez a.k.a. Miss America a.k.a. Xochitl Gomez, the actress behind the dimensional barrier traveller, who can punch doorways into other worlds. Early plot news has hinted that while Stephen is desperately trying to control the world in his image, America will spend the film “running away from her uniqueness until she learns to embrace it”. She’s also Marvel’s first Latin-American, gay hero—more on that below.

8. Karl Mordo could be a good guy (or good-ish guy) this time around

We first met Chiwetel Ejiofor’s fellow sorceror Karl Mordo as a mate and colleague to Strange: it was he who convinced Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One to accept the Doc as a student in the first place. The film’s credits sequence seemed to set him up as a villain going forward, believing that magic cannot be used to change laws of nature. That’s still the vibe for Karl in the Doctor Strange 2 trailer, where we hear him say, “I’m sorry, Stephen: your desecration of reality will not go unpunished”.

But a ScreenRant article finds the heel turn unlikely. What with universes folding in on each other and Wanda reaching the brink of her mental stability, there’s a chance that Karl Mordo and Stephen Strange could reconcile their differences to fight a broader threat. After a cool glowy sword battle or two.

9. You’ll need to watch Marvel’s small-screen stories to appreciate it

We mentioned the zombie-tastic What If? episode above, and Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness should also draw on the reality-hopping lore of Loki. Not to mention WandaVision, which spelled out Wanda and Viz’s tragic backstory in weekly episodic installments.

All this means that Doctor Strange 2 is kinda the first Marvel film which implicitly requires viewers to be caught up on the TV universe’s storytelling, too. You should enjoy the trippy CG carnage anyways, whether you’ve seen Moon Knight or not—but many of the pivotal ideas, story moments, and character development is now happening on both streaming platforms and bigger cinema screens.

10. Virtuosic kook Danny Elfman is doing the score, his third superhero effort with Raimi

Yeah that’s what Danny Elfman looks like, apparently. The Oingo Boingo frontman absolutely killed it at Coachella recently, flaunting some gothy tats as he performed his tunes from Tim Burton movies and even The Simpsons theme song.

Elfman is no stranger to a superhero orchestral score or two, previously penning the music for Raimi’s Spider-Man and Darkman films, as well as the maligned Hulk movie. If you hear any quirky oompa-pah melodies as Scarlett Witch, the Doc, and America are battling tentacle monsters, now you’ll know who’s responsible.

11. The film won’t screen in multiple countries for its inclusion of an LGBTQ+ character

Not a very fun fact, we know, but the fact that America Chavez mentions her lesbian parents has caused Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, and Qatar to pull Doctor Strange 2 from national release. Saudi Arabia’s film classification board alleged that Disney was unwilling to cut a 12 second mention of Chavez’s “two moms”; it’s unknown whether the character’s own queerness is explicitly noted in the film yet. This is a dodgy time in terms of LGBTQ+ representation for Marvel and its all-powerful parent company Disney, who have recently been embroiled in Florida’s conservative battle over “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.

12. Keep your eyes peeled for Bruce Campbell’s trademark cameo

Since their groundbreaking work together in the Evil Dead movies, Sam Raimi has made a lovely little space for Bruce Campbell in all of his films. There’s always a hammy moment or line of dialogue by Campbell in each entry in the Spider-Man franchise. Why should this Raimi joint be any different?

In the above screenplay snippet posted to Twitter, Campbell highlights his role as “Disheveled Man” (wonder what his powers are?), an obvious nod to his horror-movie hero Ash Williams. It’s gotta be fake, right?

Let’s hope the guys do end up including some minimal cameo, at least: Campbell has also mentioned that studio edits have removed much of Raimi’s original cut of the movie. Please, Illuminati, gods of the Multiverse, and Disney: let Campbell’s big ol’ chin peep into Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness for at least a quick second.