Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness mixed in elements of director Sam Raimi’s unique brand of trippy horror, throwing the concept of the multiverse in for good measure. The movie doesn’t go into a deep dive into it as some fans might have thought, but it did throw some interesting tidbits of worldbuilding relevant to the MCU and the titular sorcerer and Master of the Mystic Arts.
Perhaps the most intriguing is the concept of “incursions” introduced by an alternate version of Doctor Christine Palmer and a certain post-credit scene appearance that looks to be the main catalyst for the prospective Doctor Strange 3. Even then, though, at least one of the multiversal members of the Illuminati could also contribute to where Doctor Strange moves on from the aftermath of Multiverse of Madness.
Editor’s note: Spoilers below for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
After the bloody rampage of the Scarlet Witch was finally put to a stop thanks to the combined efforts of Strange, America Chavez, and even Wanda herself, a post-credit scene gave a direct hint at where the sorcerer could be doing in his next solo outing. Clea, a sorceress from Marvel’s comic books, suddenly appears telling him that he has to help her fix an incursion that his exploits put into motion.
Earth-838’s Christine Palmer informed Strange while in her timeline that incursions are catastrophic phenomena that happen when universes cross over each other. It’s what 838’s Sorcerer Supreme Strange incited in his attempts to use the Darkhold to beat Thanos, resulting in trillions being killed.
Meet Clea. pic.twitter.com/l3U7UNMo5g
— Charlize Theron (@CharlizeAfrica) May 10, 2022
While actor Benedict Cumberbatch suggested in an interview with IGN that he could be taking a break from acting after Multiverse of Madness, the movie makes it abundantly clear he’ll eventually make his return. Even though this movie’s excursions into the multiverse were more small-scale than some might have expected, the likely threequel could expand on this plot device more — while developing his dynamic with the MCU’s take on Clea played by Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Old Guard).
In the comics, she’s a humanoid related to a race of energy beings and the niece of the demon Dormammu — the villain from 2016’s Doctor Strange — as well as the eventual wife of Stephen Strange. It could be interesting to see how this relationship will develop — and what universe(s) they’ll hop into — and if it’ll be similar to the source material. And depending on how long Theron decides to stick around, she could eventually become the Sorcerer Supreme herself, given how she succeeds her husband in the comics.
While Earth-838’s Supreme Strange was killed as a consequence of the incursion he caused in defeating their Thanos, the main timeline’s version encountered another multiversal variant of him that survived it all at the dire cost of living alone in a desolate universe of his making. This dark, somber recluse got into a fight with and was ultimately killed by the “main” Doctor Strange, but not without leaving a potentially permanent mark from beyond the grave.
Strange needed to gamble by using the Darkhold to stop Wanda, and while he managed to use it just enough to avoid being fully devoured by its sinister influence, it left him with the third eye it gave the corrupted Strange. It manifests itself again onto the main Strange’s forehead at the end of the movie as he leaves his home to go about his day, and again in the post-credit scene with Clea.
Multiverse of Madness showed some possibilities for where this new mysterious power can go, as the post-credit scene showed him having a fair bit of control over it. It seems safe to hypothesize that the third movie will see him struggle to master its influence as a plot point.
This eye in the comics is known as the “Eye of Agamotto,” which this MCU version has carried in some form as a talisman since his live-action debut in 2016. The Eye typically manifests itself as a result of having access to its full power.
Though it’s indirect, perhaps John Krasinski’s cameo (A Quiet Place, The Office) as an interdimensional member of the Illuminati was testing the waters for something more. A Marvel Studios Fantastic Four reboot is officially on the way, and seeing as Stephen Strange had multiple variants that had the same likeness as the Earth-616 version means there’s no reason Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic, shouldn’t get the same treatment.
While there’s nothing official yet to suggest that the Illuminati will see some sort of reformation in the future after the Scarlet Witch massacred them all, perhaps 616’s Reed could be the start of that. Likewise, there’s nothing currently suggesting that Stephen Strange himself will have a hand in it either. Though, it’s an interesting piece of speculation to consider since 838’s Doctor Strange was once a member before desperation and corruption proved to be his demise.
The Illuminati are a fairly new superhero team in the source material too, as they first debuted in comic book veteran Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers series. Through a retconned introduction, the team was formed as a response to the catastrophic Kree-Skrull War in the comics from the ’70s. The Illuminati was originally comprised of Iron Man, Professor X, Namor, Black Bolt, Reed Richards, and Doctor Strange.
This relatively fresh history of the group could allow room for some creative liberty in another potential live-action version. Multiverse of Madness has already provided the dots to connect, should producer Kevin Feige and company choose to do so with this and more.
Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now playing in theaters.