With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness right around the corner, fans have been treated to plenty of trailers and TV spots, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Just a month out from its global release, moviegoers still have no idea what the film is about, who's going to show up, or even what Multiversal threat is in front of Doctor Strange.
Since Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch took herself down a dark path in WandaVision, the former Avenger has been heavily hinted to have an antagonistic presence in the film. But with Marvel Studios eager to maintain the secrets of Multiverse of Madness, many believe there may be a deeper evil behind it all.
While the exact identity of that mysterious presence does remain a mystery, the latest trailer for Doctor Strange 2 has hinted at a scary face behind it all.
Doctor Strange 2 Trailer Hides a Scary Secret
Eagle-eyed viewers have spotted what appears to be a sinister-looking face hidden in the latest trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but who does it symbolize?
The creepily stylized face can be seen during the Marvel Studios opening fanfare in the first seconds of the trailer - which was released to promote tickets finally going on sale.
Who's Hiding in the Doctor Strange 2 Trailer?
So is this actually a hidden face, or just a case of pareidolia (the tendency for humans to see a meaningful image from just a random pattern)? With the true villain behind Multiverse of Madness still a mystery a month out from release, fans have begun to speculate that the alleged scary face - if it is, in fact, actually a face - hidden in the latest trailer may represent whoever is behind the Multiversal chaos.
Chthon arguably has more reason than anyone else to be the villain behind Multiverse of Madness. The powerful Elder God of Chaos is the ruler of his own demonic realm and the author of the Darkhold, the ancient book of spells introduced to Wanda Maximoff by Agatha Harkness in WandaVision.
The newly-formed Scarlet Witch was last seen studying the Darkhold in WandaVision's finale before hearing the voices of her twin sons, Billy and Tommy. With Wanda appearing to be heading down a villainous path in Multiverse of Madness, many have speculated the Darkhold may be corrupting her, potentially putting Chthon in control of the magical Avenger.
A comic event from earlier in the year, The Darkhold: Omega, saw Scarlet Witch absorbing the power of the Darkhold and therefore Chthon. Wanda had been connected to the demonic being for some time due to their mutual use of chaos magic until she finally declared herself to be "the true Darkhold" and took possession of Chthon:
"Now I am the true Darkhold. You haunted me for so long. But in the end... you do not possess me, Chthon. I possess you."
Marvel Studios has long connected its own storytelling to major comic events, with the two often mirroring each other to some extent. Perhaps Multiverse of Madness could take a similar angle, especially given Wanda's Darkhold corruption means these events may already be in play.
Before Doctor Strange 2's subtitle was unveiled to be Multiverse of Madness, comic antagonist Nightmare was considered a top contender to serve as the villain of the sequel. These theories may have died down since the Multiverse-centric story was revealed, but they have recently seen a resurgence due to hints given in recent trailers.
Both Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch have been revealed to be suffering from nightmares before their first meeting in the film. With Strange having dreams related to the Multiverse and a crumbling world, and Wanda seeing her Westview twins from WandaVision.
As the name implies, Nightmare is the prime suspect to be causing these visions. The ruler of the dream dimension draws power from unconscious minds and has long aimed to conquer the real world. His abilities allow him to enter dreams and turn them into nightmares, potentially making him the source of Strange and Wanda's stress.
Given the horror-based premise of Multiverse of Madness, which has been in place even before director Scott Derrickson was replaced by Sam Raimi, Nightmare would match the theme well. Back in 2018, even before a sequel became a certainty, Doctor Strange co-writer C. Robert Cargill revealed he and Derrickson planned that "Nightmare will be the villain," although of course things may have changed.
Lurking in the background, as this scary face does, matches Nightmare's style to perfection, and the terrifying smile is a look with which he is often depicted.
Who's been messing up everything? It's been Mephisto all along...
After last year's Mephisto debacle, where he was long thought to be hiding behind the secrets of WandaVision, talk of Marvel's devil has seen a resurgence once again with Multiverse of Madness right around the corner.
Spider-Man: No Way Home had a similar string of Mephisto speculation, although those theories had slightly more reasoning. The Multiversal blockbuster adapted elements of the "One More Day" event, which saw Spider-Man make a deal with the devil that ultimately led to a complete reset of his world, but replaced Mephisto with Doctor Strange.
The evidence for Mephisto's inclusion in WandaVision was unsubstantiated, to say the least, but there was some basis for speculation. After all, Mephisto was involved in a comic storyline that saw Wanda create her two children, so his inclusion would have made sense, but perhaps that may be fulfilled in Multiverse of Madness.
Being Marvel's own devil, Mephisto is the being with which Ghost Rider makes him deal, leading him down a path of demonic justice. With Ghost Rider reportedly coming to the MCU soon - with an actor possibly already attached - Mephisto may be introduced soon to prepare for his arrival.
Who's the Real Villain in Doctor Strange 2?
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness still has plenty of mysteries to uncover, with the true villain behind the chaos only being the beginning of the questions.
Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch has long been theorized to serve as the main antagonist, following her villainous actions in WandaVision. But with the latest trailers all but confirming this to be the case, that may now be a little too obvious for a film shrouded in mystery.
Given Wanda was last seen studying the Darkhold in WandaVision's post-credits scene, it stands to reason she may have grown corrupted by the dark magical power it holds. Assuming this corruption is the cause of Wanda's antagonistic turn, Chthon would be the most logical assumption to be the demon behind the curtain.
Then again, Marvel Studios appears to be aiming to keep audiences confused with hints towards various antagonists. Between Wanda, Chthon, and Nightmare, there is a case to be made that anyone could be behind the madness in the Multiverse - although bringing back WandaVision's Mephisto debacle may be unwise.
Either way, moviegoers don't have long to wait to get the answer they're waiting for, as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on May 6.