While Thanos and the Infinity Stones were the overarching threat throughout Marvel Studio's Infinity Saga, the MCU has entered a new phase where the menace appears to be the Multiverse and who comes with it. After educating audiences on the Multiverse via Disney+ series like WandaVision, Loki, and What If...?, the MCU brought the Multiverse to the big-screen in Spider-Man: No Way Home, courtesy of cameos from Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's former web-slingers, and their villains. But now, from what fans have seen of Doctor Strange 2, the MCU's Multiversal woes have only just begun.
While all MCU films are connected to one another in some form or fashion, Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness are on another level, and not just in regard to Benedict Cumberbatch's concurring roles.
In addition to Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man trilogy director, Sam Raimi, at the helm of this sequel, initially, Multiverse of Madness was supposed to release before No Way Home. But when delays resulted in swapped releases, Doctor Strange 2 was forced to undergo substantial reshoots.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' inaugural trailer served as No Way Home's post-credits scene, offering audiences a tease of the next Multiversal story to come, from different sanctums and crumbling New York City skylines to parallels with Disney+'s What If...?.
While fans expected Tom Holland's Spider-Man threequel to lead to Doctor Strange 2, the question now is what that sequel film means for the other Spidey universes and the fate of No Way Home's Multiversal characters. There are several possibilities, some of which may involve Strange being reunited with some sticky friends.
What Fans Know From The Doctor Strange 2 Trailer
In the second trailer for Multiverse of Madness, Strange says that "I did what I had to do to protect our world." Just what he's referring to is up for debate, as it could apply to his final spell in Spider-Man: No Way Home or how he and the Avengers reversed Thanos' snap in Avengers: Endgame.
Wong then warns Strange that he "opened a doorway between universes, and we don't know who or what will walk through it." Of course, this sounds like what actually happened in No Way Home, when Tobey and Andrew's Spider-Man Universes entered into the world of the MCU.
While it seemed like Strange closed that door with the spell that made everyone forget Peter Parker, doors do open from both sides, don't they?
Other interesting notes from the trailer involve imagery of New York City skylines seemingly dissolving, similar to that seen in What If...?, as well Strange tumbling through various universes, reminiscent of how Miles Morales falls through different worlds in the trailer for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
Doctor Strange also has his own Peter Parker moment in seeing variants of himself, including Defender Strange and Sinister Strange, as well as different versions of the Sanctum Sanctorum.
While audiences don't know for sure what's going on in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (and apparently Strange doesn't either), it's possible that the Spider-Man variants and universes from No Way Home may be at risk from the "madness" of this upcoming sequel.
Raimi-Verse Doctor Strange is a Variant
Technically, this isn't the first time one of director Sam Raimi's Marvel films has involved Doctor Strange.
In 2004's Spider-Man 2, Doctor Strange comes up when J.K. Simmons' J. Jonah Jameson is struggling to come up with a nickname for Otto Octavius. When the name Doctor Strange is suggested, Jameson acknowledges, "That's pretty good, but it's taken," alluding to the existence of a Doctor Strange in Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man Universe.
Here's the thing. Since the events of Spider-Man 2 influenced Spider-Man: No Way Home, and because Raimi is directing a Doctor Strange film featuring multiple versions of that character, why wouldn't he capitalize on his tease from the 2004 film with Tobey Maguire's Doctor Strange?
And, if he does, could it be a Stephen Strange that audiences have already seen in the trailers, such as Sinister Strange or Defender Strange?
No Way Home for Garfield's Spidey?
While neither one of Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man flicks referenced Doctor Strange, again, it's possible that one of the Strange variants could be the Sorcerer Supreme of Garfield's universe, as well.
After all, Garfield's Peter Parker pretty much confirmed the existence of magic in his world when he asked Ned and MJ, "Magic's real here too?"
If so, what could happen if both Garfield and Maguire's worlds were to lose their protectors of reality? Could the decrepit Sanctums and dissolving New York City skylines from the sequel's trailers actually be their respective universes?
Or, did Strange himself cause that destruction of their realities with his No Way Home spell, since it sounds like he prioritized saving "our world" - or that of the MCU - as opposed to the worlds of others?
It's worth noting that following the blockbuster release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, fans have been clamoring for the revival of Maguire and Garfield's Spider-Man franchises. Meanwhile, Sony continues to build out its cinematic universe with Spider-Man-adjacent films like Venom and Morbius.
If one (or both?) of Sony's former Peter Parkers no longer has a world to return to, could this be how they end up in another universe and continue their tales? Perhaps this is how Morbius' various Spider-Man references will come to make sense.
Technically, Marvel has already established that beings can be taken from one universe to live in another. This is exactly what the Watcher did with Natasha Romanoff's Black Widow in What If...?'s Season 1 finale; and since Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man lost his Gwen Stacy, being sent to another universe could be how he finds her or Spider Gwen.
Madame Web & Doctor Strange
In regard to both of Strange's spells in No Way Home, fans have just as many questions as they do answers. Hopefully, Multiverse of Madness will provide some clarity. In the meantime, Wong made it clear that the door between universes has been opened, and considering what Sony has in store, it doesn't look like that door will be entirely closed by the sequel's end.
In addition to Sony's return to Multiversal animation with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Part 1 later this year, the studio is also developing another Multiverse-related Spidey flick centered on Madame Web.
Since her powers involve transporting Spideys across the Multiverse and the Web of Life and Destiny, No Way Home's universe-hopping was likely just the beginning. Some have speculated that her character may be part of Doctor Strange 2. If not, it's possible that the events of this film could be the catalyst for her upcoming story and future Multiversal Spidey stories.
Are Maguire or Garfield in Multiverse of Madness?
Rumors of Tobey Maguire reuniting with director Sam Raimi for Multiverse of Madness have been swirling for months, and since this film focuses on other universes and variants, it makes sense.
However, given Marvel Studios' limited ability to use Spider-Man in the MCU, the odds are stacked against this cameo, as this sequel isn't a Sony flick.
What fans can expect is Multiverse of Madness to reference - and possibly explain - events from Spider-Man: No Way Home. And, unless the former Sorcerer Supreme can right all these truly strange wrongs by the time the credits roll, the film is likely to influence future events involving Tom Holland's MCU Spidey, as well as projects with Garfield and Maguire's Peter Parkers, should plans for their films come to fruition.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on May 6, 2022.