Speculating on the Doctor Strange Trailer

A week ago, during some football game or other, Disney and Marvel revealed the official trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. A sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange – and Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Avengers: Endgame, and WandaVision, and pretty much all the Marvel stuff – Multiverse of Madness finds Stephen Strange dealing with the fallout of his dimension meddling with Spidey (presumably, unless there’s some new destructive spell he casts at the beginning of this film), as the multiverse opens up on the MCU and he must team up with Scarlet Witch to stave off the coming evil. Benedict Cumberbatch returns as Doctor Strange, along with Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Michael Stuhlbarg from Strange’s last solo movie; they’re joined by Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch and Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, along with what looks like some surprise guests. Sam Raimi takes over as director from Scott Derrickson, with a script by Michael Waldron. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on May 6, 2022. Check out the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer below:

If nothing else, they’ve given us a lot to talk about with this one. The Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer assures us a return of the mind-bending visuals from the previous Doctor Strange film and more interdimensional wackiness than we’ve seen yet. All the surviving familiar faces return, and I’m glad that Rachel McAdams is among them; I liked her a lot in the first movie, and she was important to Strange’s character development. And while it’s fuzzy on what role Baron Mordo will be playing, I imagine he’ll grow still more sinister until he takes center stage as the villain down the road. As for Wong, while the trailer doesn’t mention it one way or the other, I hope they drop that stupid plot point from No Way Home where he’s now the Sorcerer Supreme; while it would be lame to treat it as a throwaway joke that didn’t land (and it didn’t), I’d prefer that to making Strange have to reacquire that title in only his second movie.

Now, let’s unpack the cameos, Easter eggs, and various other Marvelly connective tissues that we’re supposed to pretend to dislike nowadays if we want to sit at the cool kids’ table. Wanda is the biggie, mostly because we know it’s her, and she’s got a major role in the film. I loved the MCU’s take on the character right up till the end of WandaVision, where here grievous sins are washed away in an idiotic piece of dialogue from Monica Rambeau (whom I also liked a lot till then). The dialogue in the trailer – which Babbling Collector talked about in her excellent article last week – suggests that not only does Wanda not think she did anything wrong, but she resents that Strange isn’t hated like she is. Well, unless they’re not talking about the No Way Home spells, Strange didn’t knowingly enslave people to soothe his broken heart. If Marvel goes in this direction, it’s a huge mistake on their part and will ruin Scarlet Witch as a heroic figure. What’s even more unfortunate is the potential here; this could be a great story for her, something that explores what grief can do to an otherwise good person and show us a fallen hero striving for redemption. Instead, she comes off as an entitled brat who thinks her powers give her free rein to do whatever she wants, regardless of who she hurts. The only direction to go from there is to make her an all-out villain, but I don’t see them doing that. The moment in the trailer that gives me hope on this score is when Wanda confronts herself in the WandaVision world; maybe they are going to have her face her horrific actions and atone for them.

Doctor Strange trailer

But we already knew about Wanda; the coolest stuff comes in the reveals we didn’t see coming. Eschewing any more beating around the bush, it was Patrick Stewart’s surprise appearance that brought down the house. I know Sir Patrick is being coy, and any possible role he could be playing is currently undisclosed, but let’s not pretend we don’t know that’s him or that he’s playing Charles Xavier. (If you’re hungry for confirmation, pause the trailer as Strange is brought into the room to face him and take note of the wheelchair before one of the seats.) After No Way Home, we know that the various Marvel movies that preceded – and, in some cases, ran concurrently with – the MCU exist as alternate Earths in the Marvel multiverse, which means the world of Fox’s X-Men movies is one of them. Stewart’s presence here suggests that this is how they’ll introduce the X-Men to the MCU and gives us the possibly false hope that Hugh Jackman can be coaxed back for another stab (not the least bit sorry) at Wolverine. Of course, this isn’t definite; it could also be that Stewart’s Xavier will find the mutants in their MCU guises and form the X-Men with them. (Isn’t the now-defunct Avengers headquarters somewhere in upstate New York? Somewhere like… Westchester?)

But at least as interesting is that this scene looks to me like Marvel is introducing some version of the Illuminati into the MCU. The Illuminati is a group of heroes who shape events behind the curtain, and both Professor Xavier and Doctor Strange are among its six founding members. I say “some version” of the Illuminati because another member is Tony Stark, and he’s all dead and stuff. And since Chadwick Boseman’s tragic passing, they’re retiring Black Panther, who is also an Illuminati. Then there’s Reed Richards; it’s possible they could bring back one of the actors from a previous version of the Fantastic Four, but since neither of those was well received, and the MCU is planning its own take on the Four, I think they’ll leave him out of this. Black Bolt was also part of a recent Marvel project, the ABC TV series The Inhumans, but since fewer people saw it than saw Bigfoot, I imagine they’ll ignore that too. The remaining member is Namor, who’s been rumored to appear in the MCU for some time now; maybe this will be his introduction. Apparently, there have been other members in the comics since then, so perhaps a few of them will replace people like Stark and T’Challa, or maybe they’ll just make up their own roster. But I’d love to see what they do with the Illuminati.

Doctor Strange trailer

Aside from Wanda and Xavier, the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer has Strange being led around by Ultron drones. This could mean a lot of things, but I wonder if it’s a reference to “Age of Ultron” the comic story, which is very different from its cinematic namesake. In that series, the heroes accidentally create a future where Ultron has taken over the world. (It’s actually mostly a morality play about how far a hero should be willing to go to prevent a future disaster, with the dystopian nightmare of Ultron’s rule as the backdrop.) They appear to be acting as Xavier’s – and the Illuminati’s; I’m convinced this is happening – security or police force, so it’s probably not a direct adaptation (unless Ultron is an Illuminati; hmm…). And America Chavez, who is confirmed to be appearing, shows up as well; I’m not familiar with the character, so I have no opinion on that. I have a rather negative opinion of Captain Marvel, though, and that lit-up streaking figure looks like her; we’re just never going to hear the end of who they insist is our new favorite superhero, are we? But, leaving behind the eye-rolls, another surprise is the dark version of Doctor Strange last seen in What If…? That show was a mixed bag, but it had some really good ideas and episodes, and the twisted version of Stephen Strange’s origin was one of the best. However, unless I’m misremembering, didn’t the demonic Doctor Strange turn to good and redeem himself? I hope there’s a compelling reason why he’s evil again if he ends up being the villain. (That would make Benedict Cumberbatch two for two in playing his own nemesis in a Doctor Strange film.) Some are speculating that the multi-armed thing at the end is the evil Doctor Strange, a dark mirror to his actions fighting Thanos in Infinity War; others think it’s longtime Doctor Strange nemesis Nightmare, which would jibe with one of Strange’s lines at the beginning of the trailer. I have no idea, but I’m looking forward to finding out on opening night.

Did you like the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer? What other surprises do you think the film has up its sleeve? Is Bruce Campbell playing the secret mastermind behind the universe-destroying threat? Let us know in the comments, and stay tuned to Geeks + Gamers for more superhero speculation!

Comments (6)

February 22, 2022 at 1:26 am

I must say couple of things; I kinda liked the trailer; that octopus for example really excites me though, that maybe because I love giant octopuses. Also, I do hope that evil Dr. Strange is not the one from What If? I hope it will be maybe some evil counterpart from one of many alternate universes, and someone like that would be an amazing villain! I am kinda wary of combining X-Men universe. I always liked X-Men being its own thing; throwing it into MCU might be messy.
And finally, I really want Dormammu to return!

    February 22, 2022 at 9:10 am

    I’m positive Dormammu will be back at some point; I wouldn’t be surprised if he was in one of the post-credits scenes.

    After No Way Home, I think they’re gonna go full-tilt on bringing in previous versions of Marvel characters, for better or worse. They’re in love with the multiverse now; on the one hand it’s a cool idea, but it’s also the easy way out of developing characters over time, which used to be Marvel’s bread and butter.

    I think the evil Strange is the one from the show because on the poster, there’s a reference to Captain Carter.

February 23, 2022 at 1:07 pm

America Chavez is from another dimension as well. I’m guessing Strange did something in the beginning because that’s what the story is about right? But I could be wrong, I don’t know. I thought the interdimensional stuff was fixed in No Way Home and this is completely different. But maybe this could show Strange more of the consequences of making these risks and as Mordo said to him, the bill will come.

I think the evil Strange is completely new version. If this is the one from What If? then where’s the emo-cape he got? Sure, it might be hanging somewhere, but I don’t know. But why is he in where he is in the trailer and not in the pocket dimension?

Everything about it looks intense and it’s delivering.

You know, I read that article and it’s left me very, very conflicted. I know there’ve been a lot of issues with Disney lately, with their movies, Star Wars, Marvel. Believe me, I got my issues too and I’m sure this will not go unnoticed because this is more serious than I thought. But did we get some good out from them like No Way Home, I even enjoyed Shang-Chi very much.

I’m a little confused about the predicament of the WandaVision finale. Not that I have a problem with it, I thought everything went just fine. I’m surprised that there are issues with what Rambeau said to her and yet does forgiveness take a long time to come by? Yes, Wanda has much to learn that with great power, comes great responsibility. This all happened because of a broken heart. While Agatha coerced her on some level, it was Wanda’s choice.

    February 24, 2022 at 6:02 pm

    The issue people have with the ending of WandaVision and what Monica said to her is that Wanda is presented as the victim when she’s been enslaving a town full of people. They were begging her to let them know their loved ones were okay or to just kill them and be done with it, and Monica said “They’ll never know what you sacrificed for them.” As if they should be grateful for Wanda releasing them. If they presented it differently, or if they do in Doctor Strange, they could make something interesting out of it, but for now, it’s pretty messed up morally. And based on what she says to Strange in that trailer, she seems to think the situation is unfair to her.

    There are Disney things I still enjoy. I loved Spider-Man (and despite that push to give Sony all the credit, the writers of that movie also wrote Ant-Man and the Wasp), and I really like The Mandalorian.

February 25, 2022 at 12:22 am

Well, wasn’t that she sacrificed her ‘family’ to clear the Hex, and the people of Westview don’t know that, right? Yes, I noticed the same shot yet different mood, but maybe it’s one of those moments where they’re just talking, and she switches from her regular clothes to her outfit showing what has happened to her, comparing to what Strange has done. Like Loki switching to Cap in Dark World.

I hope things get better for Peter and that his whole mess is cleared. Speaking of WandaVision, have you ever thought that maybe there are Skrulls out there or factions that aren’t so friendly and want to conquer Earth?

    February 25, 2022 at 8:13 pm

    I don’t think you can say you sacrificed something for someone else if you were victimizing that person. Wanda sacrificed what was essentially a simulation after months of forcing these people to bend to her will; it may have been real to her, but she was doing to them was literally real, and saying “They’ll never know what you sacrificed” makes it seem like they should be grateful. I actually really liked WandaVision, and I think they could have made the ending work with a few tweaks, but that’s a big one.

    Having evil factions of the Skrulls is what they’re going to do in Secret Invasion, which is on the way later this year. I hope that’s good; I don’t like the version of the Skrulls they’ve shown so far. The bad ones need to be super evil to make up for it.

    I can’t wait to see what’s next for Peter. That ending was incredible, and they can do almost anything with him now.

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