At the core of speculation from both before and after the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home is Doctor Strange's botched spell. While audiences know it led to Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's Spider-Men, along with their slew of web-slinging baddies, coming into the MCU, the question remains as to whether other Multiversal events are to blame? Or whether Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is responsible for breaking the Multiverse.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is expected to answer these questions; and from what fans have seen from the trailers and TV spots, the leading theory is that the former Sorcerer Supreme will be held accountable for his recklessness in the Spidey threequel.
However, Doctor Strange's own Benedict Cumberbatch has a different take on the matter and a tease or two about what audiences can expect from his upcoming film.
Cumberbatch Defends Strange & Points to Spider-Man's Mistake
In talking with GamesRadar, Benedict Cumberbatch defended Doctor Strange casting that reality-breaking spell for Peter Parker, pointing out that the teenage web-head did interfere with the spell "something like six times:"
“I know we all love Peter Parker, but can we just rewind to the point that the spell is interrupted something like six times?"
While Peter would say it was only five times, it's true that Strange warned him not to interfere. And, according to the sorcerer, the spell had worked before at Kamar-Taj.
In regard to audiences anticipating his character facing the consequences of his arrogance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the Academy Award-nominated actor countered, saying, "It's not all arrogance, actually. I think some of it is a very calculated risk:"
"I think it’s just too easily written off as: ‘He’s going to have to pay for his arrogance.’ It’s not all arrogance, actually. I think some of it is a very calculated risk. But we’ll see where that takes him [in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness].”
Strange is no stranger when it comes to risk. The Sorcerer Supreme did just that when he gave the Time Stone to Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War; and if he hadn't, half of the universe would still be dusted.
As to what audiences can expect from his mysterious sequel set to release on May 6, Cumberbatch only contributed to the growing hype, claiming, "And its big, man," and "I think it could be one of the biggest [Marvel films] we've seen so far:"
“It is madness, for sure, what happens in our film. It’s pretty full-on. And it’s big, man. It’s very, very ambitious. And if we bring it off, I think it could be one of the biggest [Marvel films] we’ve seen so far.”
Doctor Strange 2 a Sequel Hitherto Undreamt Of?
Benedict Cumberbatch's defense of Strange is incredibly revealing and worth paying attention to. Again, fans have only assumed Strange would pay for ignoring Wong's warnings about the No Way Home spell, chalking his actions up to ego.
However, No Way Home did establish that Strange not only respects but loves Peter Parker. His willingness to cast the spell came from a place of compassion, not arrogance.
Plus, Marvel fans still don't know just what broke the Multiverse. Before No Way Home debuted in theaters, Wanda seemingly altered reality and possibly tapped into the Multiverse via her Chaos Magic in WandaVision, and Sylvie seemingly freed the Multiverse in Loki. It's possible that those actions played into what went wrong with Strange's spell for Peter as well.
Finally, Cumberbatch's description of Multiverse of Madness being "very ambitious" and possibly being "one of the biggest Marvel films we've seen so far" is huge.
Even though Doctor Strange is just now getting his second film, the character has been part of the biggest MCU films to date, including Avengers: Infinity War, Endgame, and now No Way Home.
Therefore, if any Marvel actor knows what a big MCU film looks like, it's Benedict Cumberbatch.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is set to premiere on May 6.