Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness might be the biggest “glow-up” MCU movie since Captain America: Civil War followed The Winter Solder. The third Cap movie didn’t just continue on from a well-regarded film; it also became Avengers 2.0, Iron Man 3.0, and precursors to both Black Panther and Spider-Man: Homecoming. It became a true event film, and not just another Marvel sequel. Here’s why I think Mutliverse of Madness might be Phase 4’s version of that–and also become the Marvel response to DC’s recent Crisis on Infinite Earths.
By potentially nabbing Sam Raimi as director–a legendary movie-maker with a filmography for the ages–it shows that Kevin Feige considers Doctor Strange 2 to be something much bigger than fans had initially imagined. And given that the entire Multiverse will now be in play, I am going to venture a guess that Marvel Studios is looking at what the Arrowverse did, by canonizing almost every aspect of live-action DC shows and movies as part of a greater tapestry. The Doctor Strange sequel could wind up as a true celebration of all big screen Marvel, and not just the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. Everyone will line up for that, whether they liked the first Doctor Strange movie or not.
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Right now, there’s one big hint that this is Kevin Feige’s plan for this movie. As recently as a few months ago, Feige asked Patrick Stewart to return as Professor Charles Xavier in an MCU film. Now, given Stewart’s age, it seems highly unlikely that Feige wanted him to play Professor X in the new MCU version of the X-Men. Whenever they do launch that, they’ll want it to run for a decade or more. And Stewart is almost 80 years old. My hunch is that were Stewart to have returned as Xavier, it would have been for Multiverse of Madness. It’s the one upcoming project we know takes place on multiple Earths–and that could include the Fox X-Men Earth.
The potential addition of Sam Raimi also lends fuel to that fire. He’s the man who helped usher in the dominance of Marvel as a brand with the original Spider-Man trilogy, after all. You don’t attempt to bring him on board to make another version of Thor: The Dark World or Ant-Man and the Wasp. (No shade! I like both those movies! But they were not “events.”) Having him come aboard seems like the perfect opportunity to find someone who’ll deliver something special.
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But should this prove the case, which pre-MCU movie worlds might appear? If Feige asked Patrick Stewart to participate, that means some of the Fox-era X-Men are sure to show up. Probably not Hugh Jackman and Stewart, because they felt they made their proper goodbyes with Logan. (And they’d be right.) But what about some X-Men representation with James Marsden as Cyclops, or Anna Paquin’s Rogue? Neither of those actors ever really got to play the comic book accurate versions of those characters. We know Feige wouldn’t do those characters dirty. So why not use them to give the old X-Men universe a proper swan song?
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Speaking of the Fox X-Men, we know that Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool is going to make the transition to the MCU at some point. It’s already been stated via multiple sources that Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios are now in charge of that character. They could just reboot the character for the MCU and keep Reynolds in the role, or they could use Multiverse of Madness as a way to bring him in. This movie offers the perfect set up to smoothly transition Wade Wilson out of one universe into another one with little muss or fuss. And we say drag in his version of Colossus while he’s at it.
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At least one aspect of the Fox-era Fantastic Four films could be referenced, too. Imagine an Earth where the FF have mostly retired, and the only superhero left standing from the time is the Human Torch, as played by Chris Evans? It would be a fun cameo from an actor who was one of the linchpins of the MCU as Captain America, but who actually got his Marvel start with a totally different character. While I don’t think Evans would want to return as Steve Rogers anytime soon, I bet he’d be down for a cameo as a character no one ever expected him to play again. It might be too fun to resist.
And with Sam Raimi potentially involved, we can’t imagine that he wouldn’t want to refer to his original Spider-Man films if a whole Multiverse is on the menu. While I don’t think we’d see Tobey Maguire convinced to put on the suit again, we could see the potential for something even cooler, and straight from the comics. I’m talking now about the Spectacular Spider-Girl.
Back in the ‘90s, Marvel Comics introduced Spider-Girl, who was the teenage daughter of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. May “Mayday” Parker discovered she had powers, and at age fifteen took up the family business. Spider-Girl even had her own long-running title. Seeing Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst make an appearance as the middle-aged parents of May Parker would make fans giddy with excitement. Those actors might not just come back to those roles for anyone, but we bet they’d say yes to Sam Raimi. And you’d get a potential future headlining character in Spider-Girl out of it.
At let us not forget, the Raimi Spider-Man films have already been referenced in an MCU film. Well, in a manner of speaking. Remember, J.K. Simmons appeared as J. Jonah Jameson in the post-credits tag for Spider-Man: Far From Home. Yes, it’s a different version of J.J., but it shows that the folks at Marvel are aware of the legacy of those Raimi Spidey movies. It’s definitely something they probably want to embrace. If one version of Simmon’s character exists in the MCU, doesn’t that imply the original version of him is out there somewhere?
There are other potential candidates, too. Imagine a Marvel Zombies world, with Wesley Snipes as Blade holding the undead hordes at bay. Or even Howard the Duck popping up, as a nod to Marvel’s very first movie. Eric Bana’s Hulk would be fun, but complications with Universal might not make that feasible. And we really can’t see Ben Affleck putting on the Daredevil costume for any amount of money. But even if it was just the X-Men, the FF, and Spider-Man, that would be enough to make Multiverse of Madness a true nerd film event for the ages, and not just another MCU sequel.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is set to hit in summer of 2021.
Featured Image: Marvel Studios