Spider-Man No Way Home may be next on Marvel’s release roster but it’s Doctor Strange’s Multiverse of Madness that is creating the latest buzz. According to a Grace Randolf scoop X-Men mutant Charles Xavier is rumoured to be making an appearance in the Strange sequel. The rumour also places Professor X going toe to toe with Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch who has long been theorised to be the main (or one of the main) villains of the sequel.
This is exciting stuff for Phase 4 of the MCU. The expansion of the universe not only suggest the inclusion of fan-favourites like the X-Men, it also sees the franchise sink deeper into its comic-book origins for meatier stories to tell. The Multiverse of Madness will act as the pivotal breeding ground Marvel’s new direction.
If WandaVision, Loki and the Spider-Man No Way Home trailer are anything to go by, a Multiverse war could also be on its way.
Both WandaVision and Loki lay the grounds for what is to come. To briefly recap, it’s likely that Wanda’s dismantling of the hex reality she created to reincarnate Vision not only saw the birth of the Scarlet Witch as a Nexus being (capable of interdimensional travel) it also became the first fracture of the sacred timeline. We know that her sons Tommy and Billy Maximoff fade out of existence in the WandaVision finale so the resurgence of their voices in the end credits suggests they may exist in another timeline.
The events in Loki put additional pressure on the timeline with the killing of Jonathan Majors’ He Who Remains (a variant of MCU villain Kang) who admits to being in charge of keeping the sacred timeline in check. After his death in the finale, we see branches sprout from that timeline indicating the start of the multiverse.
If that’s not enough to chew on Peter Parker causes things to spiral out of control further when he enlists Doctor Strange’s help to make the world forget about his true identity. An act which appears to have a cataclysmic effect on the already strained timeline, leading to the expansion of the multiverse (or so the trailer forewarns).
Some juicy stuff is happening all over the MCU but it is the Multiverse of Madness that is about to unify all those loose strands. According to The Hollywood Reporter Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is expected to make an appearance in sequel of Doctor Strange. This could mean the fraught Loki we saw at the end of ‘Loki’ will be picking up where he despairingly left off; with Kang the Conqueror at the helm of the TVA and Loki possibly looking for a way to restore the sacred timeline. As explained in Loki the Kangs war against one another for ultimate control led to a multiverse war. The expansion of the multiverse could cause another war with multiple Kangs once again vying for sole power. A Loki appearance could allude to him seeking Strange out for help.
Marvel executives, however, are fans of a slow-burning, tension-building storyline so while Kang may make an appearance in Multiverse of Madness, it’s highly unlikely he will be the antagonists. It is, however, possible that the influence of the Darkhold could cause Wanda to go to extraordinary measures to find her sons. With the Kangs’ quest for control, we could see them capitalise on the merging of the timelines to get other main players to do their bidding. Wanda’s grief makes her the perfect candidate for a Kang puppet.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is set for release 25th March 2022.