Marvel fans have come a long way since the days when Tony Stark and Steve Rogers first led Earth's Mightiest Heroes into battle, which continued throughout the Infinity Saga. Now, the franchise has progressed far enough to include a version of Marvel Comics' Illuminati alongside Doctor Strange and Wanda Maximoff in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Marvel Studios' latest theatrical release took the opportunity to explore different versions of classic MCU heroes and villains from across the Multiverse as the magic and action shot up to new heights. The Illuminati itself was a prime example of that - although fans marveled at John Krasinski's new take on Reed Richards, cheers also came for the fresh takes on Hayley Atwell's Captain Carter and Lashana Lynch's Captain Marvel.
While Wanda took out Reed Richards and Anson Mount's Black Bolt fairly quickly, there were some intense moments of physical combat when Wanda took on both Maria Rambeau and Peggy Carter in the Illuminati's main hall. On top of that, according to Doctor Strange 2's crew, one of those moments was even something more painful than expected for the main villain.
Wanda's Memories of Steve Rogers
The audio commentary on the digital release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness revealed a touching moment for Wanda Maximoff during her fight with the Illuminati.
Co-producer Richie Palmer and director Sam Raimi discussed the moment when Hayley Atwell and Lashana Lynch look at each other before charging at the Scarlet Witch. That was revealed to be something the actresses came up with on their own to show just how experienced and battle-tested both heroines were at that point:
Palmer: "That was Hayley and Lashana who came up with that cool look between them in the moment. You know, the idea being they were well-oiled machines."
Raimi: "That's right, we challenged them to come up with a badass look, and they each did. It was really cool."
Raimi also noted how the entire scene pays homage to Marvel's legacy of female characters, with Wanda being especially important thanks to her time as both a hero and a villain:
"This scene pays tribute to female heroes and villains. [Wanda's] the embodiment of both, so it's really appropriate for this moment."
Head writer Michael Waldron looked back on Captain Carter's death, which he imagined as something truly painful for Wanda after knowing how Steve Rogers felt about Peggy in the Infinity Saga. Palmer added that it likely felt the same when Wanda took out Maria Rambeau thanks to Wanda's experience with Monica Rambeau in WandaVision:
Waldron: "I have to imagine that moment hurts Wanda. She was so close to Steve. She would have known Peggy, known of her."
Palmer: "I think both of these characters, this is, you know, Monica Rambeau's mother, who she knew from WandaVision..."
Palmer continued looking at the fight between Captain Marvel and Wanda, teasing how exciting the battle is due to both of their powers originally coming due to interactions with Infinity Stones. Even so, with the Scarlet Witch being so immensely powerful, Palmer noted how she "siphoned [Captain Marvel's] power" long enough to hold her off and take her out:
"This is an amazing thing we do for the fans as well. 'Who's going to win, Captain Marvel or the Scarlet Witch?' The two most powerful beings in the universe, who's going to come out on top? They both have their powers from Infinity Stones. But Wanda is the Scarlet Witch, so I don't know if there's anything stopping the Scarlet Witch, but Captain Marvel comes pretty close. So what seems happened is, the Scarlet Witch siphoned her power momentarily long enough to dispatch her."
Wanda's Hero Days Come Back in Illuminati Fight
Even though Wanda turned into a more ruthless villain than many fans expected, her time in Doctor Strange 2 brought back some meaningful moments from the days when she fought with the Avengers.
Specifically, Wanda's relationship with Steve Rogers was one that developed over time after they first met in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Steve helped Wanda evolve into a hero after leaving Ultron, and she was there when Earth-616's Peggy Carter passed away in Captain America: Civil War, which surely hit her deep when she sliced Captain Carter in half during their battle.
These same emotions came through during the tussle with Captain Marvel, tying Doctor Strange 2 even more closely with WandaVision thanks to the show's reintroduction of Monica Rambeau. Teyonah Parris' heroine stood by Wanda after everything that happened in Westview, and while that relationship wasn't as long as the one with Steve, it was still certainly something that hit Wanda hard as she fought for her children.
While Steve Rogers may have retired and passed on the shield after Avengers: Endgame, his presence in the MCU and future remains as big as anyone else's.