Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness finally introduced the MCU's version of the Illuminati, but there's a twist. The secret society of heroes introduced in the movie is from a different universe, and not from the main Earth where the MCU is set. Marketing for the Benedict Cumberbatch-led sequel confirmed several members of the team, such as a Captain Marvel Variant, Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier, and surprisingly, Hayley Atwell's Captain Carter.
Warning - the rest of this article contains spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
In the sequel, the Illuminati is from Earth-838. Aside from the other members mentioned above, rounding up the group are John Krasinki's Reed Richards, Baron Mordo, and Anson Mount's Black Bolt. The team had an impactful debut, but it was cut short after Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff killed most of them aside from Mordo.
Captain Carter died after being bisected by her own shield, leading fans to question if this live-action version is the same one from the What If...? series. To recap, the character was first introduced in the animated venture, with Carter playing a significant role after being named one of the Guardians of the Multiverse.
Now, the film's writer has addressed the subject in a new interview.
Marvel Writer Addresses Captain Carter's What If? Connection
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness head writer Michael Waldron sat down with IGN to talk about Hayley Atwell's Captain Carter and the character's connection to the What If...? animated series.
When asked if the live-action Captain Carter seen in the sequel was the same character fans saw in the animated Disney+ show, Waldron admitted that he doesn't know, with him saying that he hopes "that's not the one:"
“I don't know. I'm reticent to canonize that either way. I hope not. I hope that's not the one. That'd be too bad.”
Aside from the Captain Carter connection, another direct link of What If...? to Multiverse of Madness is the emotional bond between Stephen Strange and Christine Palmer. In the sequel, this was showcased in unique ways, ultimately ending with Strange's acceptance that they don't really end up together in every universe.
Waldron addressed this connection, admitting that he was "definitely aware" while also giving a shoutout to What If...? executive producer Ashley Bradley for the assist:
“Well, I was definitely aware of What If...?. I think when I came on [the movie], the Doctor Strange episode of What If...? was still in the animatic phase. But I watched that and knew what they were doing, which was more helpful to me that [executive producer] Ashley Bradley had focused on Strange and Christine's relationship [in the episode], because I knew I wanted to focus on that as the heart of his emotional story in our movie."
Waldron continued by discussing Strange's dilemma in the sequel, saying that part of what the character is wrestling with by the end of the movie is the idea of him potentially going bad after his fateful encounters with his Variants:
“So, it didn't necessarily affect the multiverse… But it does represent one more cautionary tale of a time that is Stephen Strange, somewhere in the multiverse, has gone bad and ruined a universe. And I think that's part of what our Strange is wrestling with by the end of our movie, is this notion of weight, ‘Is every version of me fated to go bad and therefore, does that mean I'm going to go bad?’"
Will What If?'s Captain Carter Jump to Live Action?
If Multiverse of Madness' Captain Carter is the same one from What If...?, then many would agree that it's quite unfortunate that the character suffered an early tragic fate, especially after the Star-Spangled Avenger's significant role in saving the Multiverse in the animated series. Still, Michael Waldron's comments should at least offer a glimpse of hope that this is not the same iteration of the character from the animated show.
It's possible that What If...?'s Captain Carter is still out there somewhere in the Multiverse, waiting for her next adventure. Given that the series has been confirmed to receive a second season, there's a chance that the character will further be fleshed out first on the small screen before making the jump to live-action.
Meanwhile, the emotional core of Multiverse of Madness revolves around Stephen Strange and Christine Palmer. The film firmly establishes the idea that the two won't end up together, but it also resolves this issue through an honest exchange between the MCU's Strange and Earth-838's Christine.
Throughout the sequel, there are small moments that reflect Strange's love for Christine, such as looking out for her welfare first and trusting her fully to protect his body as he dreamwalks. Aside from an alternate reality affair, Multiverse of Madness served as Strange's closure with Christine, and it's safe to say that it worked as he enters a new chapter when it comes to love.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now playing in theaters worldwide.