Marvel Studios is approaching the finish line on its first big screen outing of 2022 in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, arguably the biggest solo film in MCU history. Taking the franchise’s use of magic and sorcery to new levels, the Multiverse will be unleashed as multiple universes’ worth of heroes and villains will converge into one story. To put it simply, “the Multiverse is a concept about which we know frighteningly little,” but this new solo project looks to change that fact with the snap of a finger.
Doctor Strange 2 comes as one of the most unique solo films in MCU history due to its grand scale and potential for the biggest character count in any non-Avengers outing to date. On top of that is the fact that, while the film is set to introduce a number of new players to the MCU, its nature as a sequel means that it adds to an adventure already established over the past few years.
While it doesn't have two key players with extensive past franchises to reference like Spider-Man: No Way Home, Strange's MCU history has plenty of twists and turns. Throw in a major supporting role for Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff and other important players, on top of other universes from Marvel's past, and there are even more MCU adventures to revisit before the first movie of 2022 makes its mark.
With that being said, here is every Marvel movie and series to watch before seeing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. They're separated into the following three tiers based on how important they are in relation to the Doctor Strange sequel:
1.) Highly Recommended: Movies whose storylines directly impact the events of Multiverse of Madness
2.) Recommended: Movies that tell the full story of Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange and Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff.
3.) Suggested for the Die-Hards: Projects whose storylines may indirectly impact events in Multiverse of Madness.
The two "Recommended" tiers are made up of six movies and one series within the MCU, a manageable number of projects that casual fans could catch up on before heading to theaters to see Doctor Strange's sequel.
Highly-Recommended MCU Projects
The core focus of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be on Doctor Stephen Strange, Wanda Maximoff, and the MCU's Multiverse. Therefore, it's only right that the three most important past MCU outings to watch ahead of this new sequel are the two solo projects for these heroes to date and the first movie to truly introduce the Multiverse in full.
Doctor Strange (2016)
There's no better place to start ahead of Benedict Cumberbatch's second MCU solo movie than his first one - 2016's Doctor Strange. This was not only Cumberbatch's first appearance in the MCU, but the first time Strange appeared on-screen as a character; he was previously mentioned as an Easter egg on Hydra's target list from 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Doctor Strange provided the classic origin story for Stephen Strange, a brilliant but exceedingly arrogant neurosurgeon who lost the use of his hands thanks to a brutal car accident. After exhausting every possible recovery option, nearly going bankrupt in the process, he found the sorcerers at Kamar-Taj and learned the ways of the Mystic Arts.
Working through his new place as a magician, Strange evolves into a powerful hero as he defeats Kaecillius and his Zealots before holding Dormammu and the Dark Dimension at bay. By the end, he had become one of the most powerful heroes in the entire MCU and was set for an extended run throughout Phase 3 and beyond.
It took a long time for Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff to get her first solo project, but when she did, she stole the show for two straight months. This came in her team-up effort with Paul Bettany's Vision in the Disney+ series WandaVision, allowing Wanda to fully evolve into her full superhero persona as the Scarlet Witch.
Using Chaos Magic to build her own Hex reality in Westview, New Jersey, six of the show's first seven episodes paid tribute to past eras of American sitcom history as Wanda tried to experience a normal life with the love of her life. She had her twin sons, Billy and Tommy, but she also found herself fighting with both SWORD and Agatha Harkness to keep her new reality intact.
By the end, Maximoff learned about the legend behind the Scarlet Witch in the Darkhold before embracing that persona and unlocking more power than ever. The show's post-credits scene left Wanda studying the Darkhold in search of her family, which puts her on her new path ahead of the Doctor Strange sequel.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
While Doctor Strange only plays a small supporting role in Spider-Man: No Way Home, this threequel brings the Multiverse into play for the first time within the MCU.
Tom Holland's Peter Parker visited Strange in an attempt to fix his life, but things went completely awry when the young Spidey accidentally altered Strange's spell. This led to the fabric of reality tearing apart for about a minute, allowing villains from other universes who knew Spider-Man's secret identity to slip into the MCU, leading to the first mentions of the Multiverse being truly real.
During No Way Home's final battle, the Green Goblin blew up the box in which the spell was contained (La Macchina di Kadavus), causing giant purple tears in the Multiverse in the sky above them. Even though Strange did his best to patch these cracks, once the pathway to alternate universes opened up, there was no going back.
Although it's unclear how that movie's events will influence Multiverse of Madness, Spider-Man: No Way Home plays as big of a role as any in Doctor Strange's next solo saga.
Recommended MCU Projects
Next are four movies that include Doctor Strange and/or the Scarlet Witch and explain their full story within the MCU. These don't necessarily impact the events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness directly, but they fill out Strange and Maximoff's full journeys through their inclusion in other team-up efforts.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron was the MCU's first movie in which Olsen fully brought Wanda Maximoff to life. Making her debut appearance in the mid-credits scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier alongside Aaron Taylor-Johnson's Quicksilver, fans got just a tease of what Maximoff would bring for years to come.
Initially starting off on the side of Hydra before she joined Ultron, Wanda would eventually ditch the robotic villain after learning about his plan to destroy Earth. She helped the Avengers save passengers on a runaway train in Seoul, South Korea, and she tried to stop Bruce Banner and Tony Stark from bringing Vision to life but instantly felt a connection once the android came to life.
Wanda then traveled with the Avengers on their Quinjet to stop Ultron in Sokovia, and even though she helped save civilians, she suffered a major loss when Ultron killed Pietro. She then ripped Ultron's "heart" out of his body before becoming an official member of the New Avengers alongside Captain America, Black Widow, War Machine, Vision, and Falcon at the end of the film.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
A year after Wanda Maximoff joined the Avengers, she became the center of enormous controversy when she accidentally killed 12 Wakandans during the hunt for Crossbones in Lagos, Nigeria. This incident was the final straw for the United Nations as the world introduced the Sokovia Accords, which put the Avengers under UN supervision and split up the team.
After Vision had Maximoff confined to the Avengers compound to keep her and those around her safe, Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye broke her out and brought her onto Captain America's side of the fight. Alongside Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, Sam Wilson, Clint Barton, and Scott Lang, she utilized her powers to get Cap and Bucky to their Quinjet in order to stop Helmut Zemo.
Once War Machine neutralized Maximoff, she was taken to the Raft alongside Barton, Wilson, and Lang. Maximoff was put in a full straight jacket and bodysuit in her cell, but by the end of the film, Cap broke her and the rest of the team out of the prison and got her free.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Doctor Strange's introduction in Avengers: Infinity War came when the Hulk crashed through the roof of the Sanctum Sanctorum, warning Strange about Thanos' impending attack on Earth. After alerting Tony Stark to Thanos' quest for the Infinity Stones, he fought against Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian, but Maw beamed Strange up to his Q-Ship to gain possession of the Time Stone.
After fending off Ebony Maw, Strange bargains with Tony to go to Titan to lure in Thanos and stop him from completing his plan to collect all six Stones. Once this group gets to Titan, he uses every magical trick in his arsenal alongside Iron Man, Spider-Man, and four of the Guardians of the Galaxy to hold off the Mad Titan, but he has to give him the Time Stone after seeing it as the only way to succeed.
Meanwhile, Wanda Maximoff was back on Earth in hiding with Vision. The two are first seen fighting Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive after they stabbed Vision and tried to rip the Mind Stone from his head. They were then saved by Captain America's rogue Avengers, and after hiding out at the Avengers Compound, they all head to Wakanda for help removing the Mind Stone safely from Vision.
Wanda has to protect Vision during the alien invasion but ends up joining the fight and using her incredible powers to hold off Thanos' army alongside Okoye and Natasha Romanoff. In the end, she has to use all of her might to destroy the Mind Stone while holding off Thanos, even though Thanos uses the Time Stone to reverse the effects and still winds up completing the Infinity Gauntlet.
Once the Mad Titan snaps his fingers, both Strange and Maximoff turn to dust alongside half of all life in the universe.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Although neither Strange nor Maximoff is a part of the core plot in Avengers: Endgame, this film moves the MCU five years forward before Earth's Mightiest heroes go back in time to collect the Infinity Stones and bring half the universe back to life. After doing so, Strange opens up portals all across the universe leading towards the decimated Avengers Compound, where he and Wanda join the battle against Thanos.
Maximoff finally gets her revenge on Thanos, throwing massive amounts of debris toward him and unleashing her full strength; she even nearly defeats him by herself before the villain orders his ships to "rain fire" over the entire battlefield.
Meanwhile, Strange uses his own magic to help aid in the fight against Thanos' army, even reminding Tony Stark that he knows how everything has to happen. In the end, Strange holds up one single finger towards Stark before Stark gains possession of the Infinity Stones, snapping his fingers and dusting Thanos' army before facing his own brutal death.
Strange and Maximoff both attend Stark's funeral alongside the rest of the Avengers, and Maximoff reunites with Clint Barton to mourn the losses of Vision and Natasha Romanoff before the Infinity Saga comes to a close.
What If...? (2021)
At the moment, it's a complete mystery whether the animated Disney+ series What If...? is fully integrated within the MCU. However, given its use of the Multiverse and the way it brought different characters from their own unique worlds together into one major battle, fans get an idea of what to expect from a story standpoint in Doctor Strange 2.
Additionally, rumors pointed to Hayley Atwell's Captain Carter potentially playing a small role in this Multiversal sequel, which would officially integrate the two projects with one another. That officially became a fact when fans recently saw Carter in a TV spot for Multiverse of Madness, and even though the extent of her role is unclear, she'll be there wielding her shield and making her presence felt.
Suggested for the Die-Hards
The following titles from across the Marvel-Verse are included in this list for fans who want every bit of story possible for Doctor Strange, Wanda Maximoff, or anybody involved or potentially involve in Doctor Strange 2. They fill in a few blanks about characters and plot devices while also getting fans prepared for some of the rumored characters that may play a role in the upcoming sequel.
While Strange appeared for a full scene in Thor: Ragnarok, neither he nor Wanda Maximoff were seen at all in Marvel's Loki on Disney+. Even so, considering that Multiverse of Madness deals exclusively with alternate universes, Loki is important due to the fact that its story opened the doorway to some of those alternate realities within the MCU.
When Sophia Di Martino's Sylvie ended Episode 6 by killing He Who Remains, branches began forming rapidly off of the Sacred Timeline surrounding the Citadel at the End of Time. This was the biggest sign yet that the Multiverse has started to fall into shambles, already changing the landscape at the Time Variance Authority as a statue of He Who Remains is seen in the agency's headquarters.
The Multiverse is real, and it becomes fully real in Loki ahead of its full arrival in Doctor Strange 2.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Thor: Ragnarok only featured one big scene with Doctor Strange after he sent Loki into magic purgatory for half an hour. Thor came to him in the Sanctum Sanctorum to ask him for assistance in finding Odin after Loki banished him to Earth, to which Strange obliged and sent Thor and Loki to Norway.
This scene only gave Strange and Thor about five minutes of total screen time together, but it introduced the two Avengers to each other and helped move Thor's third solo movie forward in its early stages.
Captain Marvel (2019)
This solo outing doesn't mean that Captain Marvel or any of her companions will find themselves playing a role in the next Doctor Strange solo movie. However, as seen in this new movie's promotional tour, fans have reason to expect a version of the powerful MCU heroine to come in through some sort of Multiversal gateway.
The Super Bowl trailer and TV spot indicated the presence of a Captain Marvel Variant, one who looked more like Lashanna Lynch's Maria Rambeau than Brie Larson's Carol Danvers. She unleashed a massive amount of power on the Scarlet Witch, and one of the scenes appeared to be in the headquarters for the Illuminati.
More recently, fans saw another TV spot for Doctor Strange 2 that confirmed this character to be Maria Rambeau in a new role as a superhero in the Illuminati's headquarters. While she may not play a big role in the overarching plot of this movie, Captain Marvel gives viewers everything they need to know for when this Variant shows up.
Fox's X-Men Series (2000-2019)
Even though 20th Century Fox produced more than a dozen movies centered on characters from Marvel Comics' X-Men series, not all of them are necessarily required for viewing ahead of Doctor Strange 2. But at the very least, they include a couple of key characters that are either confirmed or rumored to be in this upcoming movie.
The most notable of these heroes is Patrick Stewart's Professor Charles Xavier, one of the leading players in five of the X-Men films. Stewart is now set to play, at the very least, a Multiversal Variant of his mutant leader, which has been confirmed through both the Super Bowl trailer and more recent TV spots that have shown off a classic version of his hoverchair from the comics.
Other rumors have pointed to potential inclusions for Ian McKellan's Magneto, Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool, and even a new version of Wolverine that reportedly won't be played by Hugh Jackman. The X-Men films of the past may play into the story of Doctor Strange 2 in some ways, but more than anything, fans will get familiar with these world-famous mutants ahead of their official MCU debuts.
Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy
Before Sam Raimi signed on to direct Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness for the MCU, he made his name in the superhero genre with Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man trilogy from 2002 to 2007. These films are relevant not only because of Raimi's credits on all four movies, but also in relation to the rumors about Tobey Maguire's return as his version of Peter Parker.
Maguire's potential inclusion in the film has less to go on than any of the other characters, with reports only saying that he will be involved in some way. This would also mark his second full appearance in the MCU after reprising his Spidey in last year's Spider-Man: No Way Home, in which he also encountered Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange for a few minutes.
Should Maguire show up, his three solo movies will remind viewers of everything he went through against villains like the Green Goblin and Doc Ock before crossing over into the MCU alongside Tom Holland and Andrew Garfield. Considering Raimi's passion for the first three web-slinger films, it wouldn't come as a shock to see him use a moment in this new outing to pay tribute to his superhero roots.
Marvel History Coming Together in Doctor Strange 2
Arguably, no movie in Marvel Studios history has more past adventures with potential ties to other projects, in the MCU and out, than Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. However, with this being not only a major sequel for the franchise but one that opens up the Multiverse, it only makes sense that various stories from other universes will come into play.
With only 126 minutes of screen time coming in this movie, fans are undoubtedly curious about just how much these past movies will come into play.
Its MCU predecessors like Doctor Strange and Spider-Man: No Way Home are the most important entries for this sequel's leading character, as is WandaVision for Cumberbatch's co-star in Olsen. Even so, there will almost certainly be nods and references to potentially dozens of key plot points from Marvel legacy movies, all while this one busts the door to the Multiverse off its proverbial hinges.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will debut in theaters on May 6.