Less than one week away from the Marvel Cinematic Universe's comeback to theaters arrives the return of Marvel Studios: Legends. Legends is a Disney+ series meant to recap and reestablish different characters, factions, and objects in the MCU. The latest episodes have been dedicated to Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness, highlighting Wanda Maximoff, Wong, and Stephen Strange.
These short "highlight reels" have been a staple of Phase 4. Re-edited clips and moments from the catalog for each of these characters tells the story of their journey in a way that prepares audiences for their upcoming appearances. And much like everything else in the MCU, every decision made within these shorts has a meaning. Or at least that is what the most die-hard fans think, which is always more fun.
Ahead of Multiverse of Madness, there is an uncanny amount of established pieces on the board; They make sure fans know where these pieces have been, how they got here, and which are of paramount importance for Disney and Marvel Studios.
And while both Doctor Strange and Wong's episodes of Legends feature vital information and moments from these characters, including deleted scenes from projects past, there is a glaring omission from both of the sorcerer's roles in one of the biggest movies of all time.
Be Careful What You Wish For, Parker
Both Doctor Stephen Strange and Wong played a significant part in Spider-Man: No Way Home, with the former being a vital piece in one of the biggest superhero stories ever told on the big screen. In this movie, the climax moment for both Strange and Spider-Man was when Peter Parker decided to sacrifice his identity to prevent the Multiverse from tearing open and the consequences that follow.
This led to an exchange between Strange and Parker that laid out the stipulations of the most crucial spell ever cast in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When Peter suggests to Strange that he cast a spell that makes everyone forget who he is, Strange warns him that "everyone who knows and love you, we would have no memory of you. It would be as though you never existed."
Well, the spell was cast, and if the latest entries to Marvel Studios: Legends teach us anything, it is that the magic worked. There are no clips of Doctor Strange or Wong from Spider-Man: No Way Home featured in their Legends episodes. Despite the events of No Way Home being more directly related to the Multiverse than any other movie in the MCU, except for maybe 2016's Doctor Strange.
The easy explanation for this is that No Way Home is technically a Sony film, and Disney/Marvel Studios could not use footage from the movie due to licensing issues. And while that is the most likely reason for this commission, there is an exciting narrative reason for why there are no Spider-Man clips in these episodes.
It is also important to note that there was no footage of Peter Parker in his scene with Doctor Strange in Avengers: Infinity War that was featured in his episode. Peter was even referenced as a part of the duo that is Tony and Peter. But why wasn't he shown?
Don't Cast That Spell
Peter Parker's sacrifice at the end of No Way Home is a classic Peter Parker move. But unfortunately, the result is that no one in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe remembers who he is. Not MJ. Not Ned. Not Happy. And not Doctor Strange or Wong.
These episodes of Legends could be Marvel Studios' way of showing fans that the result has taken place. No Peter Parker means that Strange would have no memory of Peter coming to ask for help. No memory of the original spell taking a wrong turn. And no memory of the Multiverse being nearly cracked wide open onto Earth because to it.
This is an incredibly important story element heading into Multiverse of Madness. From what can be told by promotional footage for the movie, the Doctor Strange sequel will likely deal with Stephen Strange finally facing judgment for all of the rules he has broken and all of the liberties he has taken as the world's most powerful Master of the Mystic Arts.
He used the Time Stone without proper training. He used it again to obstruct the natural law of time to defeat Dormammu. First, he stopped Thanos from killing Tony Stark, knowing the future and how important he was to defeat the Mad Titan. Then, when everyone was brought back by Bruce Banner, he transported seemingly thousands of soldiers to the Avengers Compound to fight the war against Thanos's army.
All worthy penalties against the rules of the mystic arts, but arguably none as significant as letting a child (Peter Parker) dictate a spell that eventually led to at least nine different people being forced into another universe. But for all of the reprimand Strange is bound to receive in Multiverse of Madness, he will not know arguably his biggest crime against the rules of the Multiverse.
Strange and Wong not knowing who Peter Parker makes the dialogue in Multiverse of Madness very intriguing. It was established in 2016 that Masters of the Mystic Arts draw their power from the Multiverse to perform magic. So it stands to reason that if that Multiverse had once been structured as a systematic "sacred timeline" and is now a fractured version of what it was, the magic Strange and Wong perform would be altered.
This may have already been hinted at in No Way Home. When Strange explains to Peter Parker that people from across the Multiverse that knew Peter Parker's secret identity have come through into the MCU proper, he exclaims, "that is not supposed to happen." Strange performed the spell as he thought it would have worked based on old Multiverse rules, but something went wrong. Perhaps a Goddess of Mischief breaking the Multiverse into madness.
It would make sense for Doctor Strange to want to explore why his spell did not function the way he thought it would and to find out what has changed in the Multiverse affects his magic and understanding of the infinite universe. But if he does not remember Peter Parker, it stands to reason he doesn't remember that spell ever going awry.
So this begs the question, does Stephen Strange know that the Multiverse is in madness?
That is one of the preliminary questions that are sure to be answered in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness—releasing in theaters on May 6.