Marvel Studios is now officially back in theaters with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, featuring director Sam Raimi in his return to superhero movies alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen leading on-screen. Outside the historic box-office numbers from its Thursday night showings, the Doctor Strange sequel makes MCU history in-universe as well, being the first Marvel movie to tie directly into a Disney+ show in WandaVision.
Following Olsen's leading efforts in last year's Emmy-award-winning streaming series, she took co-lead billing with Cumberbatch during the MCU's first full dive into the Multiverse. This allowed Wanda to show off more power and a deeper individual story than ever before in Doctor Strange 2, especially after fully realizing her Scarlet Witch persona and getting an idea of what it was like to have a family in her solo series.
From what fans saw in the trailers for Doctor Strange 2, which even featured Jett Klyne and Julian Hilliard's Tommy and Billy Maximoff, the connections to WandaVision were apparent right from the get-go. However, there may have been even more that could've been brought to the table had director Sam Raimi explored that previous story even further.
Doctor Strange 2 Director Never Saw WandaVision
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness director Sam Raimi spoke with Rolling Stone about how his lack of knowledge of WandaVision affected his work on the MCU theatrical sequel.
Raimi admitted that he never saw WandaVision in its entirety, only having "seen key moments of some episodes that... directly impact [his] storyline." He noted that deep into the writing process for Doctor Strange 2, he learned that he would have to follow certain plot points from WandaVision, and he never saw the whole series during this movie's development:
"I’m not really sure what the WandaVision schedule was or how it changed. I just know that halfway, or maybe three-quarters of the way into our writing process, I’d first heard of this show they were doing and that we would have to follow it. Therefore, we had to really study what WandaVision was doing, so we could have a proper throughline and character-growth dynamic. I never even saw all of WandaVision; I’ve just seen key moments of some episodes that I was told directly impact our storyline."
WandaVision's Mark on Doctor Strange 2
Warning - the rest of this article contains spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Wanda Maximoff's journey through the nine episodes in WandaVision pushed her headfirst into the Scarlet Witch persona, which led right into her being the big villain in Doctor Strange 2 as she was consumed by the Darkhold. Considering how deeply interconnected those two stories were, it's unquestionably a shock that Sam Ram didn't look more fully into what happened in a series that featured one of his biggest characters.
Some fans have criticized Wanda's arc in the Doctor Strange sequel, either believing it retreads old ground of charting a redemptive arc for Scarlet Witch or takes the character too far down a heel turn of a totally villainous path without enough ample set-up.
Having created the Hex in Westview to try to live something of a normal life, even though it was accidental and completely out of grief, WandaVision gave Olsen's heroine the chance to have a family for the first time. Going to such drastic measures to accomplish this nudged her toward the villainous side of her character, leading to the entire population of Westview and others seeing her as a villain.
Even considering those negative sentiments towards Wanda, Episode 9 ended with the heroine taking on something of a redemption arc. By the time the credits rolled, Wanda felt regret for what she did, having been enlightened by Agatha Harkness about the Scarlet Witch legends. The post-credits scene showing her with the Darkhold indicated that she had gained an incredible amount of power, but there was still a sense that she learned a lesson and would try to make a decision for more than just herself.
Raimi's vision is what earned this movie plenty of praise across the board, and rightfully so, but a little more knowledge of WandaVision could have made Wanda's story even more intriguing.
WandaVision Could Have Done Even More
When Strange first came to Wanda early in Doctor Strange 2, fans learned that she gained control of Gargantos herself in order to steal America Chavez's power and traverse the Multiverse to look for her family. She went so far as to possess other versions of herself, and she was willing to take out anybody in her way, including her own Variant, just to get any version of her twin sons back that she could.
While putting Wanda on a villainous path wasn't necessarily the wrong choice (she's taken that path in the comics and it was teased in past films), it diverged greatly from the redemptive arc and the guilt she experienced at the end of WandaVision. By the end of that series, Wanda had dived into the Darkhold's pages in order to find her sons, but there was no indication that she was willing to take over the entire Multiverse and bend everyone in it to her will to make that happen.
Raimi didn't reveal which parts of WandaVision he knew about, but Wanda's redemptive qualities seemed to be lost as she became a full-fledged villain willing to destroy anything and anyone in her way. WandaVision seemed to clearly indicate that Wanda wanted to be out of everybody's way, especially after she created her family with Vision. Seeing her unleash hell on Strange and America Chavez pushed her far beyond just those goals into selfish villainy.
Sure, positioning Scarlet Witch as being prepared to kill America Chavez demonstrates just how willing Wanda is to get back to her children, but perhaps honing in on the idea that Wanda was still trying to be heroic could have made for a more interesting moral conflict. Instead of Wanda outwardly being ready to commit a heinous crime such as that, Multiverse of Madness could have focused on Wanda wanting to use the dubious Darkhold to get what she wants – coming into conflict with Doctor Strange's ethical code and making Wanda more empathetic in her motivations of believing the sorcerer to be hypocritical.
In the end, a little more of WandaVision's Wanda could have made her story that much richer in Doctor Strange 2. Even so, her performance is already earning rave reviews as the MCU gets one of the most powerful and dangerous villains it has ever seen.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now playing in theaters worldwide.