Marvel's latest theatrical hit, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, has officially landed on Disney+! The dimension-hopping MCU epic sees Dr. Stephen Strange and teenaged tagalong America Chavez traveling between parallel universes and exploring the Multiverse. During the pair's interdimensional romp, they get waylaid on Earth-838.
It is on Earth-838 that Strange and Chavez are apprehended by the Illuminati, a "meeting-of-the-minds" style team of superheroes who convene to make decisions that shape the fate of their world. Included in this group were the Fantastic Four's Reed Richards, Inhuman King Black Bolt, and Professor Charles Xavier, mentor to Marvel's merry band of mutants known as the X-Men. Of course, all of the Illuminati, save for one, get decimated by a very angry Wanda Maximoff. But back to Xavier for a second.
Now, in Multiverse of Madness, Professor X was played by Sir Patrick Stewart, who is famous for portraying the character in the X-Men movies produced by 20th Century Fox. Marvel Studios now owns said X-Men films and their rights, setting the stage for a rebooted X-Men team to eventually make their way to the MCU. But seemingly separately from that, Marvel Studios is working on an animated series, a continuation of the original X-Men cartoon from the 1990s. It's called X-Men '97 and it actually has a connection to Doctor Strange 2.
An X-Men '97 Easter Egg in Doctor Strange
During the scene in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in which Earth-838's Illuminati members are introduced, it's Patrick Stewart's Prof. Xavier received his own little fanfare when he rolls up in his hoverchair. Indeed, a rendition of the X-Men: The Animated Series theme is heard when Charles appears on-screen, but according to the official closed captions provided by Disney+, it's meant as a bit of an Easter egg.
As one can see above, according to those captions, the theme song played is actually supposed to be that of X-Men '97, the Marvel Studios-produced reboot/revival of the original animated series.
This is the first officially-recognized Easter Egg to the MCU's first Mutant-led project, which is set to release in mid-2023.
A Strange Easter Egg, Indeed
So, what exactly could this mean, if anything?
For starters, the closed captioning could be indicating, or at least implying, that Earth-838's Charles Xavier is somehow the exact same character who appeared in the 90s show. This, however, would seem improbable given that the animated Professor X has an American accent instead of Patrick Stewart's distinctly British way of speaking.
Or it could simply be that Disney+ felt compelled to drum-up hype for the forthcoming X-Men '97 which will, of course, release exclusively on the platform.
But why not just have the text read "X-Men: The Animated Series theme plays" as opposed to referencing a brand-new project that not everyone will be familiar with and won't be out until 2023? (At the very least.) Well, as the popular sitcom How I Met Your Mother taught us: "Newer is always better." In other words, it makes less sense to plug an outdated kids show from 30 years ago when the newer, sleeker model is at their disposal.
Whatever the case may be, fans can see this Easter egg for themselves by opening the options pane while watching Marvel Studios' Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which, as previously mentioned, is now streaming on Disney+.