The Madness of the Multiverse in the MCU
by Siya Patel
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was definitely one of Marvel’s most strange films so far. Not only was Multiverse of Madness able to open up countless possibilities to future comeback MCU movies such as the Fantastic 4 and X-Men, but it was also able to show the complexity of the multiverse and emphasize the “horror” side of Marvel. How does this movie fit into the MCU? Let’s find out.
The reason for the multiverse even being possible goes back to the Disney+ series Loki. In Loki, the Time Variance Authority’s (TVA) job is to “prune” dimensions that stray away from the “sacred timeline,” which keeps everything separate and in order. At the end of season one, when Loki and a variant of Loki named Sylvie reach the “end of time,” they confront a being known as He Who Remains. He Who Remains is killed by Sylvie, but not before warning that there will be no one preventing the timelines from running amok, leaving the multiverse unprotected. This is exactly what’s being explored further in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
At the red carpet premiere, President of Marvel Studios Kevin Fiege said: “For the Marvel.com fans that know that Loki and Sylvie did something at the end of that series sort of allowed all of this to be possible.” (Click this link to watch the full interview.)
Though we didn’t see many Loki references throughout the movie, we can definitely expect the consequences of the various timelines overlapping to be further explored in upcoming MCU movies and season two of Loki.
Spider-Man: No Way Home:
By casting the dangerous spell to make everyone forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, Doctor Strange caused various interdimensional beings to descend into the MCU’s main universe (known as Earth-616). Fortunately, Doctor Strange was able to resolve the problem by casting a more powerful spell, essentially preventing the multiverse from collapsing in exchange for a bigger sacrifice from Peter. Unfortunately, there seems to still be unknown consequences from Doctor Strange’s and Peter’s actions which might have caused some of the challenges faced by Doctor Strange and America Chavez in the Multiverse of Madness.
Kevin Feige says: “He Who Remains is gone, and that allowed a spell to go wrong in Spider-Man: No Way Home, which leads to the entire multiverse going quite mad in this [Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness].”
In episode 1 of What If…? Captain Carter – in a universe where Peggy Carter receives the super-soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers – fights off a tentacled monster trying to invade Earth. A similar creature appeared in the Multiverse of Madness, but was fought off by Wong, Doctor Strange, and America Chavez. The audience soon realizes this monster was sent by Wanda Maximoff (The Scarlet Witch), whose goal was to take America Chavez’s power of being able to travel through the multiverse so that she could see her children again (in another universe). Then, as TV Guide explains, “while on the run from Wanda, Doctor Strange and America Chavez wind up on Earth-838, where the Illuminati, a secret organization of heroes, arrests Strange for his crimes against the multiverse. The Illuminati (acting as Earth-838’s Avengers) consists of several familiar faces from across Marvel’s history on the big and small screen.” These familiar faces included Monica Rambeau (as Captain Marvel), Baron Mordo (Sorcerer Supreme), Professor X, Captain Carter (Captain America), Black Bolt, and Reed Richards.
This Captain Carter is also the first Avenger in the 838 universe, but she probably isn’t the same version we saw in What If…? Similarly, although we do see a version of evil Doctor Strange in the movie, it’s probably not the same Sinister Strange that we saw in What If…?, either. After all, in the multiverse there are multiple universes in which numerous variations of each character can exist.
In the last episode of WandaVision, the post-credit scene is Wanda in an isolated cabin with the text of forbidden spells known as the Darkhold. She hovers in full Scarlet Witch regalia, using the book to flip through the pages of the multiverse. In the movie, we find out that she was looking for a realm in which her children Billy and Tommy exist. Essentially this is what causes the shift in Wanda’s overall character arc, from being a hero to an anti-hero, to now a full on villain. Wanda Maximoff has been consumed by the Darkhold, giving her witch-alter ego full control, and will do anything to be with her children again, resulting in her wanting to take America Chavez’s power to travel through the multiverse.
Though Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness this didn’t further the overall plot of the MCU in an obvious way like some other films do, it introduced the ways in which the multiverse works and sets a strong base for the MCU’s upcoming movies. The next Marvel films that are scheduled for this year are Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which seem likely to take place primarily in just the 616 universe. However, as Time magazine notes, “it won’t be too long until heroes are popping between dimensions again, as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will almost certainly explore the multiverse, and there’s a second season of Loki and another Doctor Strange adventure in the cards as well.”
Given all of this, it’s hard to tell exactly what will happen next from a storytelling perspective. The multiverse in this movie was “more of a fun storytelling tool rather than a worldbuilding mechanism”, states Time, opening up the possibility that future trips to the multiverse can be both horrific and comedic, rather than always heavy and serious.
Hi! My name is Siya Patel and I’m a 16 year old writer for FANgirl Blog! I love the MCU, watching sitcoms, and music!”
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