One of the most intriguing concepts that come hand-in-hand with the Multiverse is the idea of Variants. First explored in Loki with Tom Hiddleston’s various other selves, it’s now been explored more than a few times. This go around, fans will meet, or have met, various alternate versions of Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, and Rachel McAdam’s characters in Doctor Strange 2.
Before audiences came face-to-face with the most recent film, they fell in love with another project which explored alternate versions of a hero: Spider-Man; No Way Home. The movie saw Tom Holland team up with Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire as they took on five former Spidey villains.
Sadly, the Variants of the characters in Multiverse of Madness don’t often interact with themselves across the runtime of the film. Thankfully, some new art has surfaced that showcases what that might have looked like.
4 Doctor Strange’s Team Up
Artist Karla Ortiz has taken to Twitter to share the artwork of her concepts for the newest Marvel Studios project Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
The first image she shared spotlights four Doctor Stranges, each with different designs standing side-by-side in addition to a fourth Strange represented by a floating head in the background.
Ortiz mentioned how the purpose of the artwork was to “build hype and potentially inform new looks” internally, as the “production was in its VERY early days.”
“So excited to share with all of you SOME of the work I did for #DoctorStrange in the Multiverse of Madness in the coming days! The production was in its VERY early stages. [Marvel Studios' Head of Visual Development] Ryan Meinerding asked me to do a poster that could serve to build hype and potentially inform new looks.”
On the right side of the photo, a design that looks very reminiscent of Defender Strange can be seen posing. The artist exclaims how “this was an amazing project to have been a part of” and that this design “in particular [served] as an early inspiration for one of the major costumes that made it to the big screen:”
“This one look, in particular, served as an early inspiration for one of the major costumes that made it to the big screen… This was an amazing project to have been a part of, and am so proud of the work visual development supervisor @IanJoynerArt and the whole team did!”
On the left side is a design that highlights what seems to be a more disheveled look for the titular hero.
In the middle, fans can see Ortez’s “attempt at a ‘Master’s Costume.’ The artist admits how she “[regrets how she] was not able to see the whole project through” due to the pause in production because of COVID-19 in 2020:
"... closeups of other looks, including an attempt at a “Master’s Costume” for him. Being a part of this was an absolute joy! My one regret was not able to see the whole project through. In 2020 COVID paused production work. By the time it restarted, I was working elsewhere."
This also provides a better look at the Strange head in the background, which certainly has a sinister aura. Could this have been a pre-cursor to the villainous force that is Sinister Strange?
The Multiversal Doctor Strange Concept Art
Anytime any project messes around with the Multiverse, one thing is clear: the art book will undoubtedly be quite the ride. The amount of various Doctor Strange’s that were designed and drawn out is likely insane.
Despite what the art depicts, it’s important to note how this doesn’t confirm that four Benedict Cumberbatch's ever shared the screen at the same time. The purpose was just to illustrate a mood and help invoke creativity and ideas from those behind the scenes.
Sadly, there are not multiple generations of Doctor Strange portrayals to pull from like Spider-Man—so if anything like that were to have happened, it would likely have been all Cumberbatch.
When drawing the artwork above, one does have to wonder: what was the intention behind the ominous face behind them? Maybe it was meant to illustrate how much of a threat his character is perceived as being to the Multiverse. Or was there going to be a Variant of the titular hero at one point and time who would have served as the big bad?
Hopefully, that full artbook gets here sooner rather than later.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now playing in theaters worldwide.