In the years following the release of 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron, the ensemble film, which pitted the Avengers against a homicidal super bot voiced by James Spader, rarely found itself towards the top of MCU fan film rankings. However, in the wake of films like Avengers: Infinity War, Endgame, as well as series like WandaVision, fans have developed a newfound appreciation for the Avengers' second film.
While fans have varying opinions on certain elements of the story and its execution, Age of Ultron contains a number of key character moments that MCU films and Disney+ series continue to glean from, including Elizabeth Olsen's WandaVision on Disney+.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness looks to continue that trend, particularly in regard to Wanda Maximoff's role. And now, a new theory suggests that following this Doctor Strange sequel, once again, fans will view Age of Ultron in a whole new way.
How the Scarlet Witch & Age of Ultron Introduced the Multiverse
Reddit user u/NorthOGD has proposed a new theory that Wanda Maximoff actually tapped into the Multiverse in Avengers: Age of Ultron as evidenced by the Avengers' debilitating "mind games."
Following her brief cameo in the post-credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff, along with her twin brother Pietro, was a central figure in Avengers: Age of Ultron. After having undergone experiments at the hands of HYDRA's Baron Strucker, she used her enhanced abilities to disable the Avengers via "old memories" and "worst fears."
At the time, it seemed that these mind games were rooted in the powers she gained from the Scepter; but thanks to WandaVision, audiences now know she's been able to draw power from chaos magic to alter realities long before she and her brother Pietro ever met Strucker.
In regard to the visions she sparked in the Avengers, Tony Stark saw the Avengers dead in the wake of a Chitauri attack, while Steve Rogers saw Peggy Carter at a dance to celebrate the end of the war, all before finding himself alone.
Thor sees a party on Asgard, which in retrospect does make Party Thor's What If...? episode a little less random. It's also in that vision that Heimdall claims that Thor will destroy them before he catches a glimpse of the Infinity Stones. Meanwhile, Black Widow experiences a disorienting flashback of her childhood in the Red Room.
What's interesting about these so-called fears and memories is that while they echo actual events that transpire in the MCU, they're not entirely accurate. Also, several aren't memories at all, but actually distorted previews of things to come. In a way, they could be described as versions of reality.
Since Wanda is likely a Nexus Being who can transform reality and even travel between universes, it's possible that these mind game "memories" and visions are actually glimpses of events taking place in other timelines within the Multiverse.
After all, when Wanda attempts to read Vision as Ultron is being uploaded into his form in the 2015 film, she actually sees Ultron successfully destroying the Earth, similar to the planetary destruction shown in What If...?, and it seems to cause her real, physical pain.
Are Wanda's Multiversal Mind Games Affecting Doctor Strange?
Having seen Infinity Ultron's storyline in What If...?, it doesn't seem coincidental that, in the 2015 Avengers film, Thor saw a vision of the Infinity Stones while Wanda saw a glimpse of Ultron's success.
Could it be that those visions were actually live-action snapshots of Infinity Ultron's What If...? universe? And, if so, was the pain Wanda felt at seeing Earth's destruction stemming from a variant of herself feeling that same pain?
Considering Doctor Strange 2's Multiversal focus, and Wanda's role within it, this is all likely to be fleshed out. Fans may even see the return of Wanda's Age of Ultron mind games, especially if they are rooted in the Multiverse. Or maybe they already have?
In the latest trailer for Multiverse of Madness, Doctor Strange claims that every night he dreams "the same dream," which appears to be glimpses of destroyed sanctums. Then, he says, "the nightmare begins."
What if these dreams Strange is experiencing are also from Wanda? And, like what the Avengers experienced in Age of Ultron, they're glimpses of actual events from other universes? It would certainly be a payoff for what Marvel set up in Age of Ultron, and it would be the perfect catalyst to better explain Wanda's powers.
In fact, Marvel Studios may have revealed those Ultron sentries in the Multiverse of Madness trailer for the purpose of fans to begin drawing connections between Age of Ultron and this upcoming film.
Now, exactly which side Wanda's Scarlet Witch will be on in this upcoming film remains to be seen. While some assume she will be one of the film's antagonists, variants are definitely a thing and the footage from the film has already shown her facing a version of herself. Perhaps the real big baddie will be the Scarlet Witch from a different universe?
While only time will tell, it's fascinating to see Avengers: Age of Ultron make a comeback and provide context for new MCU projects. It's almost as if that 2015 film, as well as Wanda Maximoff herself, is the "Nexus" for Marvel's latest Multiversal tales.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will debut in theaters on May 6, 2022.