Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is gearing up to be in the MCU since Avengers: Endgame. Not only are Doctor Strange, Wong, Christine Palmer, and Karl Mordo returning but they are being joined by Wanda Maximoff and America Chavez. Even more, they will be traveling across the Multiverse, meeting various variants of themselves and other heroes. The trailer has already shown two variants of Strange that will appear in the film. One known as Defender Strange, distinguished by his ponytail, is shown falling through a star-shaped portal and another variant looking similar to Doctor Strange Supreme from What If…? After seeing these two variants the question remains; will we see any Doctor Strange variants played by actors other than Benedict Cumberbatch.
It is widely known that Cumberbatch was not Marvel’s first choice to play the Sorcerer Supreme. (Which in itself is strange because he’s perfect for the role no pun intended.) Joaquin Phoenix was deep into negotiations with Marvel to take on the role but ultimately Phoenix chose to pass as he did not want to commit to a multi-film contract. With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, however, the chance arises for Phoenix to finally take on the role without having to commit to multiple films.
The MCU is no stranger to variants. The concept was teased in WandaVision with Evan Peters playing Wanda’s brother Pietro after playing a version of the character in the X-Men franchise. This turned out to be a deception as the character was in actuality a magically enhanced Ralph Bohner and not the same character from the X-Men films. Real variants, however, were introduced in the first season of Loki. It is here we learn that the MCU is what is known to the TVA as the “Sacred Timeline” and that there are an infinite number of timelines that could occur if the “Sacred Timeline” isn’t managed correctly. These timelines include versions of our favorite Marvel characters from past film franchises and television series not associated with the MCU, as well as cartoons and comics. In Loki, we also find out that variants don’t necessarily have to look exactly like the “Sacred Timeline” version of the character. We see Sylvie who is a female Loki variant and Boastful Loki who is a Black Loki variant. This is further expanded upon in What If…? As we see multiple variants across different timelines.
The game is changed in Spider-Man: No Way Home. When Peter Parker goes to Doctor Strange for help, he ends up botching a spell that brings in Spider-Man villains from across the multiverse to the “Sacred Timeline.” With the villains, however, also came their variants of Spider-Man which include Andrew Garfield reprising his role from Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man films, and Tobey Maguire reprising his role from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy. This marked the first time actors from different franchises have appeared as their characters in the MCU.
Heroes appearing from other franchises is rumored to continue in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with appearances from Sir Patrick Stewart as Professor X from the X-Men franchise and Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic from Tim Story’s Fantastic Four films leaking all over the internet. The rumors don’t stop there as there is also talk of variants appearing played by actors who were only considered for superhero roles. Tom Cruise is rumored to appear as a Tony Stark/Iron Man variant since Cruise was considered to play the role in the 90s before the MCU was a thing. There are also rumors of variants played by actors who were fan cast in roles such as John Krasinksi appearing as another Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic variant. With all these rumors and leaks going around it makes sense to have Joaquin Phoenix step in as the Sorcerer Supreme for just a cameo as he was so close to being cast in the role. Maybe he can play the Doctor Strange that was name-dropped in Spider-Man 2. A film that was directed by none other than Sam Raimi who happens to also be the director of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Coincidence, I think not!
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is due to take us across the multiverse on May 6, 2022.
Are you excited for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? What other variants would you like to appear in the MCU film? Leave your thoughts below!