As we inch ever closer to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, we’re on the hunt for clues. And a new Empire subscriber cover by Chris Malbon has gotten us really excited for the next Doctor Strange movie. Not only is it really cool, but it includes a ton of exciting hints for the highly-anticipated sequel. There’s a lot of stuff here we’ve already covered in our piece about Easter eggs from a recent Doctor Strange 2 poster. So we’ll be focusing solely on teases we haven’t yet dug into! From strange sigils to unexpected dinosaurs and a particularly pertinent vehicle, we’re here to explain what it all means for Doctor Strange 2.
Let’s Talk About Doctor Strange 2‘s T. rex and Savage Land
One of the most fun blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments from the trailer released on Super Bowl day was the inclusion of Strange and America Chavez falling through a prehistoric world. To Marvel comics fans the implication was clear—we’re going to visit the Savage Land in the new movie. It’s not the first time we’ve gotten a nod to the Savage Land either, as in Hawkeye a Triceratops skull was sold at the black market auction where Kate found the Ronin suit. Now that we’ve got another appearance of what seems to be a T. rex on the cover, let’s dig into what the Savage Land is, the massive heroes it’s most well connected to, and what it could mean for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
First introduced in 1965’s X-Men #10 by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, the Savage Land is a recurring Marvel location that is visited often by Marvel’s mutants and deeply connected to the hero Ka-Zar. The prehistoric location is filled with dinosaurs, jungle, and essentially looks exactly like where we see America and Strange. While it’s unclear whether they’ll spend any more time there than just falling through the world, it’s a vital inclusion that—along with the appearance of Patrick Stewart—hints that the X-Men are coming to the MCU. There was also talks of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever featuring a storyline about people searching for Vibranium, and the Savage Land is one of the only other places in the Marvel Universe where it exists. So we’re likely visiting soon!
The Importance of Stephen Strange’s Car
It’s the crash that rippled through a thousand realities… or more! The life of Dr. Stephen Strange was forever altered by his car accident, setting him on a path to Kamar-Taj and beyond. Long established within his origin, extra significance was added to the crash last year in What If… ? when we met Strange Supreme. This variant of the character lost more in the crash than just his surgical precision—he lost the love of his life. Christine Palmer died in the accident and Strange Supreme sought out any magic, no matter how malevolent, to save her. This journey corrupted him, especially as he embraced the writhing, twisted sorcery of an extradimensional menace who happens to look a whole lot like the Shuma-Gorath / Gargantos tentacles we see on this cover. The car and his broken watch have appeared multiple times in materials for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and now they appear again on this Empire cover, hinting at their importance.
Baron Mordo’s New Weapon
We’re extremely excited to see Chiwetel Ejiofor return to the MCU as Baron Mordo. So far, the Mordo we’ve seen has an entirely new look. That could be because time has passed, or it could be because we’re seeing a Variant Mordo. Either way, this Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Empire cover gives us the first official look at him with a new weapon. The crossbow was teased in a recent toy release, and it’s a really interesting addition. Normally in the comics, Mordo is not really a weapons user. So giving him one seems significant. And if you recall the last time we saw a crossbow in the MCU, it seems even more likely to be an intentional choice that’ll play into the universe as a whole.
During Spider-Man: No Way Home, when Peter enlisted MJ and Ned to help him capture the escaped multiversal villains, the trio converge on Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum. In what is essentially Strange’s basement—the Undercroft—Ned finds a crossbow. It looks nearly identical to the one that Mordo holds here. The biggest difference is that Ned’s crossbow held stakes for killing vampires. But despite the difference in ammunition, the weapon looks like the one from the Undercroft. Does this mean that Mordo has been in the Sanctum Sanctorum? Or was there a similar crossbow in an alt-universe where he’s the Sorcerer Supreme? Either way, we know that there’s something afoot with this weapon choice.
Digging into Those Strange Sigils
One recurring thing that seems to be really important going into Doctor Strange 2 are sigils. We first saw magical sigils being used in Doctor Strange. They’re a key part of his lore and the world of Kamar-Taj. They played a large part in Endgame and Infinity War, and later in WandaVision. We saw Wanda using them in the finale as she tried to contact her lost children. Since then we’ve seen sigils appear when Strange cast his spell in Spider-Man: No Way Home. But they’ve perhaps appeared more than ever in the trailers and images connected to Multiverse of Madness. In the trailers we see sigils on the Darkhold, in spell useage, and even carved into the skin of Shuma-Gorath / Gargantos. On this cover, we see them behind Strange’s many arms and hands as if casting spells, as well as behind Wanda’s head.
It’s clear that these markings and others are going to play into the movie. In the new book Marvel’s WandaVision: The Art of the Series, designer Russell Bobbitt revealed how the look of the Darkhold was directly connected to Multiverse of Madness. “Their design is what we used, and actually London made the spellbook for us. The binding has hieroglyphics on it, and the pages have this sort of Doctor Strange-esque feel to them as if it were a book from the library in the Kamar-Taj.” That need for the Darkhold to fit into Kamar-Taj means it will likely have either come from there or end up there as the movie ends. Interestingly, though, is the mention of hieroglyphics. With Moon Knight on the way, could there be an unexpected connection to the Darkhold in that show?
The Power of Portals
Another thing that’s both intrinsic to Doctor Strange and is becoming ever more important to the MCU are portals. Ever since the first Strange movie introduced the way the sorcerers can use portals, they’ve been woven into the fabric of the series. The most obvious moment that comes to mind highlighting their importance is the return of the heroes in Endgame. It’s here that Wong and other sorcerers of the Kamar-Taj use their portals to bring everyone to the final battle. Basically, throughout the years the MCU has smartly introduced viewers to the idea of portals, leading to No Way Home where we saw people come not from elsewhere on our world but elsewhere in the multiverse. That’s going to come into play even more in Doctor Strange 2.
The Doctor Strange 2 Empire cover shows multiple characters coming through what we recognize as sorcerer portals. America Chavez, Shuma-Gorath / Gargantos, Wong, Rintrah, and Mordo are all framed by them here. We know that America will likely be from another universe as she is in the comics. And it wouldn’t surprise us if Mordo and Wong were Variants. Plus, where did Shuma-Gorath / Gargantos come from? Well, if he came through a portal, then it was likely another world! So get ready to see the power of portals come into play in a big way when the movie hits screens.
Featured Image: Empire Magazine, Marvel Studios, Chris Malbon