Everything you need to know ahead of Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’

Photo credit: Julia Monteiro Martins

With “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” shaping up to be one of the biggest films of the year and of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the Miami Hurricane answers some of the biggest questions before the madness begins on May 6.

The first “Doctor Strange” was pretty forgettable, what makes this more important?

It doesn’t get much more important than this. This is the biggest event Marvel has on the docket until the X-Men pop-up or a new “Avengers” movie happens.

The MCU spent years preparing audiences for Thanos; “Multiverse of Madness” is the pay-off for Marvel’s magic side and the door opener for some of their biggest unused characters.

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So who’s in the movie besides Doctor Strange?

Outside of Benedict Cumberbatch playing Doctor Stephen Strange, the rest of the MCU’s wizarding world will make an appearance. Benedict Wong will reprise his role as the aptly named Wong, Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch will make her much anticipated return as well as Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams from the first “Doctor Strange.”

Patrick Stewart, known for his beloved portrayal of mutant telepath Charles Xavier is billed as an undisclosed role in the latest edition of Marvel’s worst-kept secret.

Will there be anyone new?

The only confirmed new character is America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez of “The Baby-Sitters Club” fame. Chavez has the ability to move between dimensions, which will come in handy.

Am I going to have to watch the entire “X-Men” franchise to get this, because that sounds like a lot?

Don’t worry about it too much. If you’ve seen any of the films with Stewart or “Logan” you’ve got the gist.

If you want to do some rewatching, start with “Doctor Strange,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” Wandavision” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” “Loki” also might be useful, ditto “What If…?”

So what’s going on here, why is the multiverse mad and what’s the film about?

“No Way Home” ends its final battle with Strange putting everything where it belongs and wiping his dimension’s memory of Tom Holland, seemingly fixing his first botched attempt. Keyword seemingly.

The trailers show Strange, Wong and the rest of the magical world overwhelmed by the newest arrivals to their dimension. The reserves, including Wanda, are called in and the dimension-hopping starts.

I doubt the film spends more than 20-30 minutes dealing with CGI monsters, once the stars group up the real movie will start, Stewart’s Illuminati versus Wanda will begin and Strange will have some tough choices to make.

But who else will be against Wanda besides the narrator from “Ted,” you may ask?

A version of “Captain Marvel” is seen fighting Wanda in the trailer, so that should be one. A version of Vision/Ultron seems like a safe bet and there are rumors Tom Cruise might play an alternate reality Tony Stark but that doesn’t seem likely. Another unlikely, but smart candidate, would be Michael B. Jordan as “Black Panther.”

“Wakanda Forever” had a messy production following Chadwick Boseman’s passing, and it would be wise to have a Plan-B if needed. A Mr. Fantastic of some sorts will also probably be in the mix somewhere.

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So does that mean Wanda is going to be the villain?

It seems that way. Other than “Loki” Marvel has never played so close to the vest with the information of a project’s villain before.

Ejiofor’s Mordo was heel-turning during the “Doctor Strange” post-credits and will be *a* villain in the film, but he will almost certainly not be *the* villain of the film. Some Lovecraftian monsters are shown in the trailer, but I doubt they’ll be around for long.

Judging by the trailer’s use of the “Captain Marvel” fighting Wanda that means only one of two things; Wanda goes bad or the group led by not-Xavier is bad. “Wandavision” left Olsen off on reading a book on magical demonology after accidentally holding a town captive so her trustworthiness is a little low right now and all signs point to her.

That all seems interesting, but will the movie be as good as “No Way Home” was?

Hard to say. This will certainly be a harder plane to land than Thanos was. “Bad man wants magic rocks to do bad things,” is pretty simple.

“Loki” and “No Way Home” did the work, but bouncing between multiple variants of Cumberbatch, Olsen and God-knows-who-else is going to be jarring, and Stewart’s inclusion may not help. Marvel has consistently pulled off these difficult moments, but this will be tougher than most.

Are there any surprise big-name character cameos that might show up?

There’s only one character currently in the MCU that has potential to pop-up and that’s Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. “Loki” was vital in explaining alternate realities in the MCU and if Hiddleston and Owen Wilson were to show up and try to time-cop the timeline it would make sense.

With the “X-Men,” “Fantastic 4” and Netflix’s former shows under their umbrella nothing is off-limits.

Don’t expect Marvel to stick with known commodities like Tobey Macguire throughout the film. The odds are high that one or both of the “Fantastic 4” iterations will get the Andrew Garfield treatment, despite the fact the MCU has already salvaged the two best actors from each project- Chris Evans and Michael B. Jordan.

Is there anything that can match the hype of the Spiders showing up in this film?

It’ll be hard to top the cheers Macguire and Garfield’s appearance received, but there are a few that can get close.

Ryan Reynolds next “Deadpool” appearance will be in the MCU as his character shifts ownership; may as well have some fun with the transition and get him in the mix. This seems like a freebie for a fun post-credit scene at worst. For those that didn’t get enough of the Peter Parker nostalgia trip, Macguire returning to play the character once more to reunite with director Sam Raimi seems likely.

Reynolds and Macguire may be big names but neither are the cameo holy grail. Hugh Jackman coming back to play Wolverine would dwarf any reaction “No Way Home” earned.

Unfortunately, it’ll probably never happen. Despite Reynolds’ desire to get the two on the same screen, Jackman got a perfect send-off in “Logan” and let’s be honest; if they had Wolverine back they’d have made the X-Men movie already.

If this is the biggest thing on the schedule, what could this set up for future Marvel films?

Is everything too broad?

Not to hate on Doctor Strange, but his efforts to contain the multiverse haven’t gone well. “Loki” is getting a second season and the next “Ant-Man” film will focus heavily on multiverses which does not bode well for Cumberbatch’s success rate. He’ll always have one in fourteen million.

Outside of starting Marvel’s next era, the potential for a full-scale mutant introduction has never been higher. Marvel pump-faked a mutant introduction once in “Wandavision,” if nothing comes out of this that helps introduce the “X-Men” I would be stunned. “Multiverse of Madness” should also shed some light on the introduction of Marvel’s first family. Unlike the “X-Men,” the “Fantastic 4” do have a film in development and this should help set the stage.