Out of the entire Phase 4 slate, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness certainly appears to be the biggest of the bunch as it looks to replace the absent next installment in the Avengers franchise.
With Benedict Cumberbatch's Sorcerer set to team up with Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch and Xochitl Gomez's America Chavez for a multiverse-hopping adventure, the possibilities for cameos and surprises are truly endless.
In classic Marvel fashion, the highly-anticipated sequel is almost completely shrouded in mystery. However, the few details that are known about the film certainly paint the picture of a film with great MCU significance and plenty of connections to future projects.
With shooting wrapped and under a year to go until release, The Direct breaks down nine sequels and spin-offs which could be teased in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
A Mordo-Centric Third Installment
Back in 2016, Doctor Strange was released into theaters with a successful box office run in the grand scheme of things, however, it still came in on the lower end of the MCU. Given the Sorcerer's huge increase in popularity after Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, it's safe to say the 2022 sequel will massively outperform the original, assuming the ongoing pandemic calms down by then.
Based on this, a third installment in the Doctor Strange franchise is almost a certainty to complete a trilogy. But with little information currently available surrounding the second film's storyline, it's hard to predict where things could go next.
The post-credits scene of the 2016 blockbuster teased Chiwetel Ejiofor's Baron Mordo will be going down a villainous path, in line with his comic counterpart, as he seeks to strip sorcerers of their magical power. Mordo will return for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but it's hard to predict how his character may tie into things.
However, the second mystical epic looks set to tackle a much bigger threat than Mordo in a mini-Avengers team-up as the group of sorcerers takes on alien squid Shuma-Gorath. Perhaps this could leave Ejiofor's spell caster as the antagonist of a third installment that brings the focus back to Doctor Strange and his world.
Loki's Next Multiverse Mission
The climactic season finale of Loki recently birthed the MCU's multiverse, so it's only right that the Asgardian's Disney+ solo series would interconnect with a blockbuster exploration of alternate realities.
Since Loki aired its season finale, rumors have circled the internet that Tom Hiddleston's God of Mischief will return for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen. Perhaps a cameo from Sophia Di Martino's Sylvie may even be on the cards as the Sorcerer Supreme confronts her for her reckless actions in killing He Who Remains.
If the mischievous Asgardian does appear alongside his fellow sorcerers for a magical team-up, it would be fitting to offer fans a hint towards the direction of Loki Season 2. After playing a critical role in the birth of the multiverse, the TVA's Loki Variant would probably be the one to appear in the sequel, possibly to explain to Strange what has caused the mess he now has to fix.
The MCU's Next Big Bad Arrives
Now that Loki has left an infinite number of Kang Variants free to fight across the multiverse, one of which will appear in 2023's Ant-Man sequel, perhaps Strange's magical team may run into one or two during his next adventure.
Johnathon Majors' time-traveling villain appears to be the MCU's next Avengers-level threat. With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness seemingly being the closest thing to an Avengers film on the Phase 4 slate, it would be a fitting place for Kang to pop up.
Wanda And Vision Go Solo Again
WandaVision was released early this year as the beginning of a new era of the MCU, not just as the first project of Phase 4, but also as Marvel's Disney+ debut. Unsurprisingly, the Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany-led superhero sitcom proved to be a huge hit among fans and continually attracted viral discussion every week.
While the studio and the series' cast have so far ruled out a second season, it's extremely unlikely the Scarlet Witch's journey will end there. However, WandaVision's climactic finale didn't leave much room to continue the reality-bending sitcom concept, meaning a potential continuation could follow a more traditional MCU plotline, possibly without a different title altogether.
Despite having made his solo debut on Disney+ in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Anthony Mackie's story will be continued in theatrical form through Captain America 4. Marvel's willingness to progress a character's adventures across both feature and episodic formats could open the doors to a Scarlet Witch movie down the line.
From the introduction of the White Vision to Evan Peters' Ralph Bohner tease, WandaVision left plenty of open plot threads to be explored down the line. Granted, it's entirely possible these will simply be spread across other MCU projects, but the series' popularity may push Marvel Studios to craft another episodic story for Wanda and Vision.
America Chavez's Adventures Continue
Alongside its cast of returning heroes, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will see the MCU debut of Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez. The young hero will reportedly play a significant role in the blockbuster as her inter-dimensional powers facilitate the film's multiverse travel.
Following the recent introduction of Wiccan, Speed, Patriot, Kid Loki, Ms. Marvel, and Kate Bishop, Marvel Studios is clearly setting up the Young Avengers to assemble in the years to come. With Gomez currently only being 15 years old, America Chavez is an obvious candidate to join the next generation of heroes whenever the inevitable team-up may eventually take place.
But before then, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see an America Chavez Disney+ series as a part of the next slate of MCU announcements. The Latin hero has starred in multiple popular comic runs over the years, so if her Doctor Strange introduction proves successful, a solo project could be on the cards in the years to come.
Captain Carter Goes Live-Action
The ongoing What If...? animated anthology series has offered Marvel fans their first peek behind the curtain of the multiverse as it dives into alternate takes on various MCU events and characters from the last thirteen years.
Ever since the series was first announced, Hayley Atwell's Captain Carter has been at the forefront of the marketing campaign. The alternate World War 2 super-soldier made her debut in the series premiere, however, recent trailers have revealed the character will appear at least a few more times.
Recent rumors have suggested Atwell will return as her What If...? hero for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, marking what will most likely be the first of the animated cast to make the jump to live-action.
Since Atwell seems keen to continue in her Marvel role following the ending of Avengers: Endgame, perhaps Captain Carter could star in her own live-action solo project. If this were to ever happen, it would likely take the form of a Disney+ series, but how exactly it could work is another question altogether.
Naturally, the most simplistic option would be to take Captain Carter out of her own universe to join the main MCU timeline. But if Marvel Studios was open to a tougher challenge, it would be intriguing to spend more time in her own reality as she appears in the modern-day and takes Steve Rogers' place as leader of the Avengers.
Granted, it's entirely possible Atwell's live-action Captain Carter will simply appear in a cameo capacity within the multiverse sequel. However, the studio's willingness to acknowledge the alternate animated heroes on the big screen could hint towards a larger future for the character.
The Midnight Sons Assemble
Marvel first debuted the Midnight Sons back in the '90s as a team of primarily darker magic-based heroes to take on supernatural threats. Over the years the line-up has shifted plenty of times, but some common members include Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider, Punisher, Moon Knight, Blade, and Werewolf by Night
With most of these characters either already in the MCU or expected to debut in the near future, it's entirely conceivable that all of those characters could feature in the live-action rendition of the team.
Interestingly, Marvel has just recently announced a Midnight Sons-inspired video game from the creators of XCOM titled Midnight Suns. While it may seem like a small change, the choice to replace the word “Sons” with “Suns” is an intriguing one that will probably translate over to comics and films in the years to come to maintain consistency.
The word choice change was likely made to remove the gender-specific term from the name as future renditions of the line-up are sure to include some female characters.
While she has never joined the team within Marvel Comics, it's likely Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch could join the MCU roster due to her immense popularity, relevant power set, and to add some much-needed diversity to the line-up.
With the MCU currently setting up multiple teams including the Thunderbolts, Young Avengers, New Avengers, and the Midnight Sons, it's inconceivable for each to get a standalone project anytime soon. For a group like the Midnight Sons, it seems probable the team will first unite in an Avengers-esque solo film, potentially Doctor Strange 3 or Blade 2.
Hints Towards The Illuminati
Another Marvel Comics group which the MCU could be looking to establish in the years to come is the Illuminati. The covert think-tank of heroes originally formed in the aftermath of the Kree-Skrull War in order to prevent future world-threatening threats, something which could easily be replaced by Thanos' invasion for the MCU adaptation.
While the team has varied over the years, the primary members usually include Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, Professor X, Namor, and Mr. Fantastic. Naturally, this line-up may require some significant changes to fit the MCU adaptation, even if it is still years down the line.
Once Namor, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men make their MCU debuts in the near future, much of this team will translate easily. However, Iron Man's recent death will obviously prevent his role and unless Kevin Feige is looking to reboot the Inhumans anytime soon, Black Bolt will likely be absent too.
Some potential members for the MCU's rendition of the Illuminati could include Captain America, Captain Marvel, Thor, and the next Black Panther who will probably be Shuri. Additionally, Bruce Banner's increase control over his powers after becoming Professor Hulk may allow him to join the roster too.
As the Illuminati essentially serves as a smaller scale Avengers line-up, it's unlikely a standalone movie for the team will be on the cards. But it could be interesting to see the covert group operating behind the scenes of the MCU to prevent greater threats without the knowledge of the rest of the Avengers.
The Mutants Join The MCU
Reliable insider Daniel Richtman recently revealed Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch will fight someone from the Fox-verse — meaning a Fantastic Four or X-Men character — in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
As of now, it's unclear whether Richtman is specifically referring to the return of an actor from Fox's Marvel franchise or the MCU debut of a character from that universe, recast with a new actor in the role.
With theories ranging from Michael Fassbender's Magneto to Chris Evans' Human Torch, whichever character will appear to take on Wanda, their return is bound to be facilitated by multiverse travel.
From the sounds of things, it's entirely possible the Doctor Strange sequel will mark the first appearance of a mutant in the MCU, albeit through the multiverse. However, fans may still be some time away from an explanation of how mutants will come to be the main timeline.
While most of the X-Men are expected to be recast for the reboot, Ryan Reynolds will be reprising his role as Deadpool in a third installment taking place in the MCU. In order to explain this, perhaps a post-credits scene of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness could see the Merc with a Mouth hopping through a portal from the Fox universe into the main timeline.
Doctor Strange 2 Has Insane Potential
Marvel Studios appears to be diving headfirst in the multiverse with its Doctor Strange sequel and doesn't seem to be holding back on anything. Many will be shocked to hear the studio is pulling from the newly acquired Fox-verse for its upcoming flick, which truly proves nothing is off the table here.
In classic Marvel fashion, Doctor Strange's next adventure is bound to be packed with plenty more surprises and cameos since it appears to be taking the Avengers' place as the primary blockbuster of Phase 4.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on March 25, 2022.