Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness showcased the concept of alternate realities like never before. The hit MCU sequel explored different worlds, mainly through the perspective of Benedict Cumberbatch's titular sorcerer. The exploration was made possible through the arrival of Xochitl Gomez's America Chavez, an MCU newcomer who can travel to different realities by opening star-shaped portals.
During the sequel, Strange and Chavez went on to travel across different realities, resulting in a sequence that greatly featured a plethora of worlds across the Multiverse. From a world showcasing the Living Tribunal to an animated Comic Book world, a total of 14 universes were highlighted in the sequence, thus giving fans a peek at what's beyond the MCU's Earth-616.
Now, new details about the notable sequence have emerged online, which changed one of the film's biggest visual sequences.
Doctor Strange 2 Made a Last-Minute Change
Framestore visual effects supervisor Alexis Wajsbrot, who crafted some of the sequences in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, sat down with Befores and Afters to talk about crafting Multiverse-related scenes in the sequel, from test shots to discussing how his team managed to pull off the different worlds that were featured.
In Multiverse of Madness, after escaping from the Scarlet Witch, Doctor Strange and America travel through the Multiverse using the latter's star portals. Wasjbrot revealed that, initially, the sequence "started with previs of a freefall," but it ultimately changed to "mimic the Magical Mystery Tour:"
"We started with previs of a freefall, and at that point the shot was only 15 to 20 seconds long. Animation supervisor James King and I were saying, ‘Oh, it would be really cool to mimic the Magical Mystery Tour,’ where it started fast and then at some points it stops, and starts up again. And the world where they stop, you’d see a wide view of the Multiverses. But, you know, what does a Multiverse look like? It’s not a lot of Earths because that would be ‘multi-Earth’. It’s ‘Multiverse’. There was also ‘where’ this all happened."
The veteran VFX supervisor then pointed out the memorable scene between Benedict Cumberbatch's titular sorcerer and Xochitl Gomez's America Chavez, where they ended up on a rooftop after the Multiverse-hopping sequence, was changed at the last minute. Initially, the pair "were supposed to finish in an alleyway" instead:
"They were always starting in Kamar-Taj and they were supposed to finish in an alleyway. Of course, in the movie they finished on the rooftop, but that was a really late addition. That was changed about three months before delivery!"
Wajsbrot also discussed the thought process behind the different worlds across the Multiverse and how Strange and America's "freefall" impacted their designs:
"Initially for all the worlds they go through, we were all thinking we would be doing a lot of 2.5D where we would do basic geometry and a lot of DMP and touch up on top. But as soon as the camera starts to freefall, and as soon as the tackle was a lot more violent–where they were now moving in space a lot more–we knew that we couldn’t do anything like that, and that it was going to be 3D for all the worlds."
The Framestore visual effects supervisor then revealed that the mystical pair were "always supposed to go from New York to New York in different styles:"
"It was at that point, too, that things changed. The whole concept was that they are freefalling into different kinds of worlds. They were always supposed to go from New York to New York in different styles and then at some point they were supposed to land into an alleyway, as I mentioned."
During the creative process, Wajsbrot unveiled how the last-minute change impacted the dynamics of the shot:
"At some point somewhere, they said, ‘Oh, actually now they are going to land on a rooftop.’ We were doing so much work already where we were at New York at ground level, but suddenly the whole ride would need to be at rooftop level, to end up on the rooftop. I thought it might change the dynamics of the shot, partly because it would only be sky that you see. You won’t read the speed as much because you’re not close to the ground. And then we all said, ‘Well, you know what? Let’s find a transition world that could go from street level to roof level.’"
The VFX supervisor continued by admitting that the team was instructed to not "mimic anything" from the iconic Multiverse sequence from the first Doctor Strange film, since the requirement for the sequel is new worlds in order to be "different" and "fresh:"
"We said, ‘Okay, what if we create some kind of ancient world where suddenly the geometry is a bit twisted so suddenly you are at rooftop level because of that transition world, which was ancient world.’ At some point, the ancient world became an ancient desert world–the feedback was, ‘We need to be careful of not making that exactly like a world from Doctor Strange.’ We couldn’t mimic anything from Doctor Strange, it needed to be different, needed to be fresh."
Wajsbrot ended by discussing how the transition to Earth-838 "worked well" from street-level to ultimately ending up at the rooftop level:
"So, we had to create that transition world to go into. I’m not even sure when you watch the sequence you realize at first that you are at street level and then you end up at rooftop level. It just goes by so quick. But it worked well for us to construct it like that."
Doctor Strange 2's Lengthy VFX Process
Based on the comments of the sequel's VFX supervisor, crafting the Multiverse scenes of Doctor Strange 2 is a complicated yet fun process. While the Multiverse-hopping scene was only an extended sequence, it was a notable one due to the fact that it became a mini-tour of the different realities that fans haven't seen or heard yet.
It is unknown if one or even some of the worlds that were included in the sequence will be explored again in a future project, but there's a chance that some could be revisited since the sequel is only the start of the MCU's Multiverse Saga.
Meanwhile, the last-minute change regarding Doctor Strange and America Chavez's landing on Earth-838 was handled well by the VFX team, especially considering the time constraints involved.
This isn't the first last-minute change that was made for Multiverse of Madness. As revealed by the film's composer Danny Elfman, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige previously improved the musical battle between Sinister Strange and the MCU's Doctor Strange by suggesting to "just simplify" it to "Beethoven versus Bach."
All in all, this last-minute reveal establishes the idea that the VFX crew is ready for any sudden creative changes from the higher-ups. As a result, rewatching the scene again would allow fans to remember the hard work that was done in order to make the scene work.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now streaming on Disney+.