So far, Phase 4 of the MCU has brought in new heroes and new threats while addressing the state of society post-blip; but of all these new faces and focuses, the Multiverse appears to be the driving force behind the new narrative. Following Loki and What If...? on Disney+, Marvel cracked open the Multiversal door in Spider-Man: No Way Home; but come May 6, 2022, Doctor Strange 2 is expected to dive in headfirst.
Naturally, with a title like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, anything can happen; and apparently, the same rule applies to the film's production.
In addition to director Scott Derrickson being swapped for Spider-Man director Sam Raimi, the Benedict Cumberbatch sequel also faced pandemic-related scheduling woes followed by extensive reshoots in November of 2021.
Of course, this led to rumors about the state of the film and whether additional characters have been added to the film due to the blockbuster success of No Way Home.
While fans aren't likely to get the full story until after Multiverse of Madness debuts, its director Sam Raimi has now commented on those reshoots and provided an update on the film's production.
Doctor Strange 2 Director Doesn't Know If the Sequel is Complete
When Variety asked Sam Raimi if his Doctor Strange sequel is complete, the director confessed his uncertainty, saying that he “wish(ed) [he] knew the answer to that question:"
"I wish I knew the answer to that question. I think we’re done, but we just cut everything. We’re just starting to test the picture and we’ll find out if there’s anything that’s got to be picked up. If something’s unclear or another improvement I can make in this short amount of time left, I’ll do it. One thing I know about the Marvel team is they won’t stop. They’ll keep pushing it until it’s as close to being great as it could.”
In addition to serving as a sequel to the 2016 Doctor Strange film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has also been tasked with continuing other MCU stories, including that of Wanda Maximoff's following WandaVision.
The film is also set to introduce the new character of America Chavez into the MCU, and may also include storylines from Loki, a potential slew of Multiversal "variants," and address the fallout of Spider-Man: No Way Home which, before the pandemic, was originally set before the Spider-Man threequel.
Raimi also commented on how "Marvel's been a great team to work with" and looked back to his experience with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, saying,
“Marvel’s been a great team to work with. I think that was a not-surprising surprise. I’ve been super-supported by the whole Marvel operations, starting at the top with Kevin Feige, and working all the way down to the crews that they work with. [They’re] super professional and have supported me every step of the way.”
The Challenges Facing Doctor Strange 2
While fans have long been excited about the prospect of a Multiversal horror film, the sequel's troubled production - and its significant reshoots - have led to concerns about its quality; and while it's great to finally hear an update from Raimi, his uncertainty isn't exactly reassuring.
Part of the problem with Multiverse of Madness is that it's expected to explain a number of the Multiverse-related questions and plot points introduced in WandaVision, Loki, What If...?, and now Spider-Man: No Way Home.
While all of those 2021 projects dealt with the Multiverse, timelines, and various realities, fans still don't know the ramifications of the actions of those characters and how they contributed to the others.
If the Multiverse is central to the MCU's Phase 4 story, these questions need to be addressed and the audience needs to know the rules. The question is whether Multiverse of Madness can accomplish that in a single film that also has its own story to tell.
Still, it's worth noting that Raimi remains positive and just as committed as Marvel to producing a great film. His comment about if "something's unclear or another improvement I can make in this short amount of time left, I'll do it," is encouraging; but it does leave the door open for additional reshoots or rewrites.
It's ironic that a Marvel film that's all about time and possibilities would face similar obstacles in its production; and with that May 6 release date on the horizon, Raimi and Marvel Studios are in the endgame now. Only time will tell if the long-anticipated sequel will be able to live up to the hype and the weight of its plot.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is set to be released on May 6, 2022.