Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is filled with many memorable moments, ranging from the arrival of the Illuminati to the Scarlet Witch's turn to evil. However, a surprising scene was showcased in the form of an intense musical battle between two Doctor Strange Variants. This meeting between the MCU's Strange and Sinister Strange was heavily teased during the film's marketing, with some fans even theorizing the latter to be the main villain of the sequel.
Despite that, Multiverse of Madness ultimately unveiled that Sinister Strange is a version of the Master of the Mystic Arts that has been corrupted by the Darkhold similarly to Wanda Maximoff. The character's arrival also canonized a deleted scene from 2016's Doctor Strange, with it establishing that the titular sorcerer had a sister, Donna, who passed away when they were kids.
Now, new details about the musical battle have emerged, straight from the film's cast and crew.
A Last-Minute Doctor Strange 2 Change
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness composer Danny Elfman sat down with Marvel Entertainment to talk about the sequel's musical battle between the Doctor Strange Variants and how Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige improved the scene.
In the film, America Chavez sends MCU-616's Strange and Earth-838's Christine Palmer into a universe that is experiencing an incursion, an event that occurs when the boundary between two universes collapses, and they collide, thus destroying one or even both entirely.
In that universe, the MCU's Strange discovers that his Variant is an evil version of himself, resulting in a music-infused battle inside the Sanctum Sanctorum.
Elfman opened up about the said fight, saying that "notes are flying off the page," literally, while also sharing that "various classical pieces" were involved initially:
“Literally, not metaphorically, these notes are flying off the page. It was working various classical pieces against each other; kind of famous pieces."
The Spider-Man 2 composer then revealed that Feige made a last-minute change to the sequence, with the Marvel boss suggesting to "just simplify" it to "Beethoven versus Bach:"
"Then, in the very 59th minute of the 11th hour, at the very end, Kevin Feige jumped in and said to just simplify it to Beethoven versus Bach. I did one more pass at it where it was Beethoven’s ‘5th Symphony’ against Bach’s ‘Toccata and Fugue.’ It really worked out perfectly.”
Doctor Strange star Benedict Cumberbatch also chimed in on the subject, revealing that he "came up with the ideas of the sound effects, splitting it apart and coming back together:"
“It was a very novel use of an environment. It was Strange reaching desperately at hand for what there was. It was a lot of fun to do. There was a point where it became a little bit like a weird tennis match. I was like, ‘No, it’s got to be more inventive. We have to explode it, and we have to use different elements.’ I came up with the ideas of the sound effects, splitting it apart and coming back together. The notes were hitting Sinister Strange like sort of peppering him with bullets, and then there was one note that would go into a ball that’s being held to explode.”
A Musical MCU Madness
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige's hands-on effort at trying to improve MCU films is once again established in this latest interview. Given that Multiverse of Madness is an integral project to the franchise's plan involving alternate realities, it's no surprise that Feige is heavily involved not just in the sequel's narrative, but also with its important sequences.
In addition, Feige also had special requests for Benedict Cumberbatch's new costume in the sequel, meaning that the Marvel boss is still active behind the scenes. This comes after a report of him not being too much involved with the visual effects department as of late.
Multiverse of Madness director Sam Raimi previously described the sequel as "the most complex movie" that he's ever worked on in his career. So, it seems that Feige was aware that simplifying certain moments such as the musical battle would've helped in lessening the confusion behind complex concepts that were introduced in the movie.
This is also in line with Raimi's previous reveal that the sequel's original runtime was two hours and 40 minutes, hinting that many more scenes were 'simplified' throughout production.
All in all, Feige's heavy involvement behind the scenes is a positive development ahead of the MCU's massive slate in Phase 4 and beyond.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is still playing in theaters worldwide.