Here’s an essential watch guide for you to watch before watching
‘Doctor Strange in the Mutlitverse of Madness’
The Multiverse of Madness is upon us with Marvel Studios hosting its official red carpet world premiere tonight, live in Los Angeles. While others attend an exclusive press screening in New York City. Fans are eager to go on the multiversal mind warp that will be ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but while they wait we have a quick, but essential watch guide to getting you all prepped for Doctor Strange 2 ahead of its official release this Friday, May 6th. As a courtesy, we’ll provide a spoiler warning for those who have not watched any of the films or shows we will be mentioned in this article; you’ve been warned.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
We got our first glimpse of the Maximoff twins in a post-credits back in 2014 after the release of ‘Captain America: The Winter Solider’. It wasn’t until ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ that fans were fully introduced to Wanda and Pietro Maximoff. Not only did the film bring forth the birth of Ultron, which then brought forth the birth of Vision, while also pushing the overall Infinity War narrative forward; but we also got the origins of the Maximoff twins, how they each gained their powers, the death of Pietro Maximoff at the hands of Ultron, and the first glimpse of what a grieving Wanda can do and the power that she can unleash.
Despite the twins initially doing Ultron’s bidding, the twins found themselves not fully agreeing with Ultron’s vision. Ultimately becoming members of The Avengers, Wanda Maximoff more specifically. Despite fully becoming an Avenger by the end of the film, gaining a new look and costume, Wanda Maximoff did not go by her comic book moniker, The Scarlet Witch.
While the quality of the film that is ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ is highly debated amongst fans and critics alike, one thing is for sure; the effects of Age of Ultron in the overarching MCU are still being felt. As we saw in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and ‘Avengers: Endgame’, and ultimately ‘WandaVision’.
Captain America: Civil War
‘Captain America: Civil War’ makes Wanda Maximoff another central figure in the overarching MCU and yet another potential threat and villain. The film’s opening scene sees the new Avenger accidentally killing civilians while trying to save Captain America as he is nearly killed by Crossbones. This moment was the catalyst that marked not just Wanda Maximoff as a global threat, but the Avengers as well. This introduced us to what we now know as the Sokovia Accords.
The Sokovia Accords as we all know ripped The Avengers apart, pitting them against each other and disassembling them by the time the credits rolled. While Civil War tore The Avengers apart, it brought Wanda and Vision together. Further developing their newly found affections towards each other, more on this later. ‘Civil War’ also marked the first live-action appearance of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man in the MCU, as we all know by now plays a huge factor in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, ‘Avenger: Endgame’, and ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’.
Doctor Strange (2016)
‘Doctor Strange’ brought the live-action debut of the Master of the Mystic Arts, Dr. Stephen Strange, giving us his origins in how he lost his hands, his road to partial recovery, and learning the mystic arts through teachings by the Ancient One. Not only did the film bring magic and sorcery to the MCU, but it is also the first film in the MCU to introduce us to the concept of the multiverse. This is visually shown throughout the film as Stephen Strange is thrown across the multiverse and different dimensions multiple times.
The concept of time and how it can affect the timeline and the drastic and disastrous effects of messing with the said timeline can bring is something Baron Mordo tries to get Stephen to understand from the beginning. However, Strange is as arrogant as they come, not truly concerned with the aftereffects of his decisions, rather what can help him here and now. This specific plot point ties directly into Marvel Studios’ first animated venture, ‘What If…?’.
Avengers: Infinity War
‘Avengers: Infinity War’ finally saw all of the MCU come together to fight the biggest baddie of them all, Thanos, who was deadset on obtaining all six Infinity Stones in order to wipe half of all life in the known universe. One thing fans looked forward to the most was seeing the likes of Doctor Strange, Tony Starks’ remaining Avengers team, Captain America’s Secret Avengers team, and the Guardians of the Galaxy finally meet on screen. As an added bonus, we get more of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, who by the time Thanos arrives to wreak havoc has met The Avengers, had his first solo outing against Vulture, and is now meeting Doctor Strange and The Guardians for the first time.
Infinity War also expands on the multiverse and time manipulation as Doctor Strange uses the Time Stone to look at 14,000,605 different outcomes to find the one scenario in which The Avengers defeat Thanos. However, this comes at an immense cost, handing over the Time Stone to Thanos, willingly. A sacrifice that pays off in the sequel, ‘Avengers: Endgame’.
Now that Thanos had acquired 5/6 Infinity Stones, the most elusive one of them all is all that stood in between Thanos and his plan, Vision and the Mind Stone. Throughout the film, The Avengers and Secret Avengers, along with Black Panther and Wakanda do all they can possibly do to prevent Thanos from getting his hands on Vision. While The Avengers are defeated easily, it is Wanda Maximoff who is left completely broken.
Not only was she not able to fully prevent Thanos from killing Vision, but she also had to witness him dying TWICE! Once by her own hands, in an attempt to stop Thanos, and again when Thanos uses the Time Stone to turn back time to bring Vision back to life and kill him again in order to obtain the Mind Stone. This is just the beginning of Wanda’s true plunge into grievance and sorrow as she’s again lost the most important person in her life, this time right before her own eyes.
‘Avengers: Endgame’ takes us from 2018 to 2023, five years have passed since Thanos wiped half of all life across the universe and The Avengers have yet to figure out how to bring everyone back. The world is now bleak but thriving. Thanos is successful and resting. Endgame also dives deeper into the multiverse that could be accessed through the Quantum Realm. As Scott Lang/Ant-Man emerges from the Quantum Realm to see a world he no longer recognizes.
After learning how time works in the Quantum Realm and how that time differs from the outside world, Ant-Man suggests a Time Heist in which The Avengers assemble again to revisit past events from throughout the MCU’s history to assemble their own Infinity Gauntlet in order to bring back the 50% of life that Thanos wiped from the universe.
While The Avengers succeeded in their mission, ultimately defeating the 2014 version of Thanos at the hands of Tony Stark, when the dust settles, we are left with a mourning Avengers team and Wanda who still has no Vision, as he wasn’t able to be brought back due to being a synthetic android.
Dealing with more grief than ever before, ‘WandaVision’ sees Wanda Maximoff becoming unhinged and having an emotional and mental breakdown. Holding a town hostage and through her Chaos Magic created the ideal life she wanted with Vision. The series sees Wanda coping with her grief, an unrealistic version of Vision, children, and an alternate version of her brother Pietro, played by Evan Peters, who played Pietro Maximoff in the Fox X-Men universe.
This is the first time in the MCU that we get to see a multiversal variant of a character within the MCU. WandaVision further expands on the multiverse through the Darkhold and Wanda’s Chaos Magic. Through Agatha Harkness, we learn that Wanda is the prophesized Nexus Being known as the Scarlet Witch. A witch who can warp all of reality to her choosing and her own liking. It was through Wanda’s Chaos Magic that she was able to pull “Pietro” through the multiverse and into this town she was residing in. Although the series plays this down later on in the series, the point still remains that it was here that multiversal variants are introduced in the MCU.
WandaVision also marks the first time that the MCU calls Wanda Maximoff the Scarlet Witch. Though she loses everything she wanted by the end of it all, we see that Wanda has learned how to use the Darkhold to its fullest extent. As she is seen studying the book in astral form, endlessly searching for her children throughout the multiverse until she hears them call out to her. This specific scene is the direct tie-in to ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’.
Marvel Studios’ first animated venture, ‘What If…?’ really broke the multiverse open by introducing us to multiple variants of already established MCU characters. While we recommend watching the entirety of the series, we want to focus this on the Peggy Carter and Doctor Strang episodes specifically. In ‘What If…?’ we are introduced to Captain Carter, a version of Peggy Carter who took the Super Soldier serum making her a Super Soldier. This version or a variant of this version of Peggy Carter/Captain Carter will be seen in Multiverse of Madness.
The second episode we want to focus on is the Doctor Strange episode in which we continuously relive the tragic events that lead Stephen Strange to become Master of the Mystic Arts. Strange does everything in his power to have his cake and eat it too. Ultimately, becoming consumed by the evil and fights a multiversal variant of himself. These actions have further ramifications through the remainder of What If Season One and will bleed over into Multiverse of Madness.
We do want to keep in mind, however, that Benedict Cumberbatch in a recent interview confirmed that this version of Strange that we see, which closely resembles the ‘What If…?’ version of Doctor Strange isn’t that exact version of the character. It begs to question whether or not this version is another multiversal variant like the many we’ll see throughout the film.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ saw Tom Holland’s Spider-Man seeking the help of Doctor Strange after the events of ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’. Trying to get everyone to forget his identity, Peter screws up Doctor Strange’s spell causing the multiverse to collapse and bringing in Toby Maguire’s Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man, and a few of their respective rouges. How does this tie into Doctor Strange? Well, the multiversal ramifications that were seen during the last battle in New York where the multiverse is literally ripping apart and villains from other Spider-Universes are waiting to crossover.
As with any of his other encounters with time manipulation and spellbinding, Doctor Strange was warned by Sorceror Supreme Wong not to cast this spell because if it went wrong, it could have drastic effects, all of which were mentioned above. When it comes to Multiverse of Madness, we’ll probably see more of the same with Strange trying to fix his mistakes only to lead to much bigger ones in the form of the Scarlet Witch, the Darkhold, and multiversal threats and variants of himself.
Honorable Mention: Loki Season One
While not that important to the overall multiversal plot (something you can debate amongst yourselves), ‘Loki’ Season One introduced us to Nexus Events, Loki variants, and the Sacred Timeline. While Loki doesn’t fully dive into the multiverse and how it works until they meet He Who Remains, a multiversal variant of Kang is that we learn that killing He Who Remains causes a Nexus Event and disrupts the Sacred Timeline which branches off multiple universes.
To quickly tie this into ‘Avengers: Endgame’ this is something the Ancient One mentions to Bruce Banner when he tries to convince her to let him bring the Time Stone from 2012 to 2023. That’s where the multiversal connectivity between Loki and Doctor Strange really starts and ends since Kang will be the main antagonist in ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumnania’ and his variant’s death in this series will dictate his actions in that film as opposed to seeing him in ‘Multiverse of Madness’.
However, there is still that possibility that we see a version of Kang throughout the multiverse in this film, but that remains to be seen as we have no confirmation on other variants other than the confirmed Illuminati.
Did we miss any recommendations or must-know events? Feel free to let us know in the comments below or on social media.
‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ hits theaters this Friday.
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