Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was the first theatrical release of Marvel's Phase 4 slate to pick up where a streaming series left off. Benedict Cumberbatch's solo sequel united the good doctor with Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch, who continued her crusade for her children that began in WandaVision. The film also weaved in elements established in Spider-Man: No Way Home and 2016's Doctor Strange but noticeably ignored the Marvel Cinematic Universe's most blatant Multiversal project: Loki.
Alternate iterations of Strange, Wanda Maximoff, and Christine Palmer were simply referred to as "other me's" rather than Variants. The Time Variance Authority was nowhere to be found. Even the Multiversal tyrant Kang the Conqueror remained in the shadows throughout the events of Doctor Strange 2.
That said, the MCU's connections are not a one-way street. While Multiverse of Madness did not work in plot points from Loki Season 1, the events of the Strange sequel might just shape the next narrative for the trickster god.
Doctor Strange's Connections to Loki Season 2
Incursions, Variants, Nexus Events, oh my!
Speaking to TheWrap, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Loki Season 1 lead writer Michael Waldron noted that despite the lack of God of Mischief connections in Marvel's May blockbuster, he always kept his Disney+ series in mind when scribing the sorcerer's sequel:
"Fortunately, I was the 'Loki' guy, which helped. I was like, okay, the very least I can make sure I’m not screwing over 'Loki.'"
Waldron continued, adding that it "remains to be seen" how Multiverse of Madness impacted Loki and the Time Variance Authority but teased we will "find out" eventually:
"That’s the gift I can give myself is make these things congruous. It remains to be seen – how did the events of this movie play out through the lens of the TVA? What would they look like on a chronomonitor? I don’t know. We’ll have to find out."
Aside from keeping the trickster in mind, Waldron also had to factor December's Spider-Man: No Way Home into Doctor Strange 2's continuity. Before the pandemic shifted Marvel's Phase 4 slate, Multiverse of Madness was scheduled to arrive before No Way Home, which forced Waldron to rework some bits of the film:
"It wasn’t a seismic change. For us, it just meant that Strange had more of an awareness of the Multiverse, and that he had been on a prior adventure with teenagers. He knew how to relate to America a little bit better than he would have if our movie had come first. They got to do the 'Scooby-Doo this s--t' jokes and I didn’t, but that was that was okay."
While Season 1 writer Eric Martin has taken over lead writer duties for the sophomore installment, Waldron is still on the Loki team as a producer. Beyond the writing shake-ups, Season 1 director Kate Herron has been replaced by Moon Knight directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. Waldron emphasized that Season 2 has "new ground to cover" thanks to the show's lead character
"Well, just this that we’re excited. Like Season 1, it’s the sort of thing that only felt worth doing if it felt like we had new ground to cover and it turns out yeah, we do. That character is the gift that keeps on giving, and we were fortunate to build such an amazing world in Season 1 with Kate Herron and now Benson and Moorhead coming in [to direct] and Eric Martin is the writer. It’s gonna be great. I’m excited."
The TVA's Multiverse of Madness
Doctor Strange 2's post credits scene featured the debuting Clea, played by Charlize Theron, lecturing Strange for causing "an incursion." How this collision of universes affects the Sacred Timeline remains to be seen, but something that seismic has to get on Kang's radar.
Loki Season 1 concluded with Sophia Di Martino's Sylvie executing He Who Remains, causing a shift in the Sacred Timeline's stability. When Loki returned to the TVA, none of the employees recognized him, and the massive Time-Keeper statue had been given a Kang-inspired face-lift. To the audience's knowledge, Loki is the only one with a memory of what life was like before all these changes occurred.
With that in mind, the TVA's ignorance of Multiverse of Madness lines up with its new carefree mentality. The previously-controlled Sacred Timeline monitor is last seen branching off chaotically, with no Minutemen rushing to prune any offshoot timelines. This new TVA, under Kang's rule, is embracing the chaos.
That's not to say it is unbothered by everything. Nexus Events and timeline breaches are familiar territories, but what do Kang and company know about incursions?
While Loki Season 2 is just beginning production, fans can expect to get a better understanding when Jonathan Majors returns as Kang the Conqueror in next February's Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.