The Marvel Cinematic Universe is preparing for a new era of films and TV shows, and the most important title in its upcoming phase 4 might be Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, as it has the potential to completely change the MCU. Marvel Studios has been building its connected universe for a bit over a decade, beginning with Jon Favreau’s Iron Man in 2008. The first wave of films, known as “the Infinity Saga”, recently came to an end after reaching its peak with Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, with Spider-Man: Far From Home as the closing chapter.
Now, Marvel Studios is ready to move on with its highly anticipated phase 4, which will introduce new characters (like the Eternals and Shang-Chi) and continue the stories of others (like Thor and Spider-Man). Phase 4 will be home to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, a sequel to Scott Derrickson’s 2016 film Doctor Strange. The film will have Derrickson back as director, as well as Benedict Cumberbatch reprising his role as the Sorcerer Supreme, and has been teased to have a completely different tone to what the MCU has been doing so far.
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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will have a direct connection to Marvel’s Disney+ shows, most notably WandaVision, as Scarlet Witch has been confirmed to appear in the film. In typical Marvel fashion, plot details haven’t been revealed yet, but from what is known so far about Doctor Strange’s second film, it all points at it being the one that completely changes the MCU.
Doctor Strange 2 Introduces The Real Multiverse To MCU
As the title says, Doctor Strange 2 will introduce and explore Marvel’s multiverse. In the comics, the multiverse is a collection of alternate universes with a similar nature and a universal hierarchy. Each universe or continuity is a single reality, such as the mainstream Marvel Universe/continuity Earth-616, though these shouldn’t be confused with “dimensions”. For example, characters like Odin come from separate dimensions as those on Earth, but they are still part of Universe-616. Some of these universes were born due to time-traveling, where a single reality splits into two nearly identical realities upon reaching a certain point in time – from then on, an event occurs differently in each diverging reality. Each universe has a Captain Britain as protector of its version of the British Isles, and are collectively known as Captain Britain Corps. Each universe appears to be defended by a Sorcerer Supreme as well.
In the MCU, however, the multiverse refers to the collection of dimensions contained within one universe, in this case Earth-199999. As such, settings like the Quantum Realm and the astral and mirror dimensions are part of the multiverse. This collection was teased in Ant-Man, which presented the Quantum Realm, but it wasn’t formally introduced until Doctor Strange, which took viewers into a brief yet trippy ride through some dimensions. However, the multiverse as it is, with its many possibilities, scenarios, and threats, hasn’t been shown yet – but that will change soon.
Although the MCU has already shown some of the dimensions contained in the multiverse, there are many more to be explored, which opens many doors for the team behind Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Marvel Studios in general. These dimensions shouldn’t be exclusive to Doctor Strange, as there’s a lot of potential in them to be included in future MCU films and become a key element in this new era of films and TV shows. The Infinity stones were the core of the “Infinity saga”, and the multiverse with all its possibilities can be the same in phase 4 and beyond.
Doctor Strange 2 Can Introduce Mutants… Or Vampires
Among some of the most exciting perks of Marvel finally exploring the multiverse is that it can bring other characters that couldn’t be introduced before for different reasons. Thanks to the Disney/Fox merger, the mutants (among others) are now living at the Mouse House, and Marvel could use the multiverse as the path to bring the X-Men to the MCU. The mutants are confirmed to be joining the MCU, but it’s unknown when and how (through a solo film? In someone else’s story, a la Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War?). But the mutants are not the only characters that could benefit from the exploration of the multiverse – vampires could also use it to their advantage.
In Marvel Comics, vampires are magically reanimated human corpses inhabited by the spirits of the deceased person, and closely resemble the living human they were before their transformation. Like traditional vampires, they feed off the blood of the living, and can transform other humans they have fed from thanks to the enzymes carried in the vampire’s saliva. These characters can summon and control certain creatures as well as transform themselves into bats, possess the power of hypnosis, and in most cases are able to heal themselves quickly. Of course, they also have weaknesses, such as sunlight, aversion to religious symbols, silver, and wood (but only if impaled through the heart), among others. Vampires can also be defeated through magic thanks to incantations like the Montesi Formula, used by Doctor Strange to destroy all vampires.
Introducing vampires through the multiverse would also help setup Blade, one of the confirmed characters coming to the MCU in a near future, most likely in phase 5. Or, if Marvel is feeling adventurous, they could go as far as to introduce both (without making them the center of the story, as to avoid having too many characters in one film), making way for future films to have either the mutants or the vampires as part of their stories.
Doctor Strange 2 Is Defining Phase 4
Although the MCU is mostly known for its films, TV shows are also included in it. Netflix’s Marvel shows are also part of it, and even though they acknowledged the events of the films, they never had a connection with them. That will change with the upcoming Marvel shows on Disney+, which will tie directly to future films, as is the case with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and the series WandaVision and Loki. As mentioned above, Scarlet Witch will appear in Doctor Strange 2, and the events in her series will affect the ones in the film.
Kevin Feige has also confirmed that Loki will tie into Doctor Strange 2, which fits with the multiverse theme as the last time fans saw Loki he escaped with the Tesseract back in 2012, thus creating a new timeline. The film will serve as a meeting point for Scarlet Witch and Loki, characters that have messed with reality and universes in their own ways. And if it introduces characters like the mutants and/or vampires, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be the film that defines the MCU’s phase 4 and beyond, while also setting up the arrival of newcomers like Blade, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men. The events in it will surely influence future seasons of the aforementioned series as well, so Doctor Strange 2 is a defining entry in the MCU’s new era.
Doctor Strange 2 Is A New Kind Of MCU Story
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has been teased as the first horror film in the MCU, which is an unexplored genre in this universe. The creation of alternate timelines and universes after Avengers: Endgame, along with all those scenarios that haven’t been explored or teased yet, are the perfect opportunity for Marvel to add some horror to its mix – and with Scott Derrickson as director, that shouldn’t be a problem. Prior to joining the MCU, Derrickson wrote and directed horror films like Hellraiser: Inferno, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and Sinister, so he’s no stranger to the genre. With Blade joining the MCU, the horror side of Doctor Strange 2 could help make the transition to a horror-oriented path easier, thus helping Blade (and the mutants, if they also decide to go on a darker route) as viewers will already have an idea of what to expect.
Exploring a new genre will also open up more possibilities for other characters, not just Strange, Blade, and the mutants – and given the direct connection between films and TV shows, the horror-vibe could also be translated to television at some point. The MCU is (finally) trying new things with phase 4 and beyond, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness can be the one that leads the MCU’s future phases, if done correctly.
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