Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is redefining what it means to have limitless possibilities. As seen in this past December's Spider-Man: No Way Home, an opened Multiversal door gives passage to anyone, regardless of whether they exist in Marvel Studios' canon. Not only does the concept Strange knows "frighteningly little about" allow for legacy characters to make their Marvel Cinematic Universe debut, but it also opens up the possibility for alternate versions of established MCU heroes.
Loki brought those alternate versions to life with its many Variants of the God of Mischief. While some of those Loki Variants retained Tom Hiddleston's face, others depicted the trickster in different races, genders, and even species.
With past precedence establishing these Variants do not need to be played by the same actor, Doctor Strange 2 has the unique ability to bring scrapped dream castings to life.
Tom Cruise's MCU Debut?
Benedict Cumberbatch's Stephen Strange has already ventured to the Quantum Realm and the Dark Dimension, but he could be taking the highway to the danger zone come May.
Acclaimed actor Tom Cruise has long been rumored to be among Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness's impressive ensemble, specifically portraying a Tony Stark Variant. While evidence on Cruise's involvement remains unconfirmed, there is significant history between the Mission: Impossible star and Marvel Studios that dates back to the MCU's genesis.
The MCU's Biggest What If...?
Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe launched in 2008 with Iron Man, studios across Hollywood were playing hot potato with Tony Stark's film rights. Distribution privileges bounced from Universal Studios to 20th Century Fox to New Line Cinema before eventually landing at Paramount Pictures.
Over those two decades of trading the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist back and forth, numerous actors expressed interest in rocking the suit of armor. Among those A-Listers was Tom Cruise.
The story goes that Cruise was not crazy about the initial Iron Man script. Before anyone questions Cruise's taste, what fans saw on screen in 2008 is not exactly what was on paper in the development process. Obidiah Stane actor Jeff Bridges has admitted that most of Iron Man was improvised, going as far as calling the script more of an "outline."
The script wasn't the only issue for Cruise. Allegedly, the Top Gun star wanted the Iron Man headpiece to be redesigned to make his face visible at all times. More on that later.
Cruise has admitted in recent years that he was "not close" to accepting the role. Even if Cruise's Marvel history is bigger in the fans' eyes than reality, the relationship still exists, and the celebrated actor may be looking to rectify his biggest career "what if?" if the opportunity presents itself.
Multiverse of Madness Rumors
Rumblings first sparked of Cruise's Doctor Strange 2 involvement in Fall 2020. Insider Daniel RPK reported that Marvel was considering "a bunch of interesting cameos" for the sequel, with "Tom Cruise as Tony Stark from another Earth" on that list.
That said, just because Marvel wants it doesn't mean it's going to happen. Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman was also rumored to be on Marvel's shortlist of desired Multiverse of Madness cameos, but it "didn't end up happening."
Regardless, that hasn't stopped Cruise rumors from snowballing in recent months. Cruise was spotted alongside Hayley Atwell in England this past summer, as the two were filming the seventh installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise around the area. Interestingly, Multiverse of Madness also held production in the United Kingdom during Summer 2021. On top of that, Hayley Atwell is also rumored to make her live-action debut as What If...?'s Captain Carter in Doctor Strange 2.
Superior Iron Man
Is the dress blue and black or white and gold? Do you hear Yanny or Laurel? Is that Captain Marvel or Iron Man in the Doctor Strange 2 Super Bowl trailer?
The internet has been debating the identity of the glowing flight-based hero taking the fight to Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch for days. While some frames hint at a Maria Rambeau Variant of Captain Marvel, others showcase what looks like a familiar goatee, sparking thousands of theories about this being a Tony Stark Variant.
This speculation was enough to get "Superior Iron Man" trending on Twitter, which caught the attention of the character's co-creator. Writer Tom Taylor admitted he had "no inside information" regarding Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but did acknowledge that he designed Superior Iron Man's Endo-Sym armor to "glow red/orange when he's angry."
In the comics, Superior Iron Man is a Variant of Tony Stark that dials up the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist's worst qualities up to an 11. Superior Iron Man rocks the aforementioned Endo-Sym armor, a fully liquid suit that is based on symbiotic technology.
Like all Iron Man suits, the Endo-Sym armor encompasses all of Stark's body, but there is one piece noticeably absent: his faceplate. Tom Cruise may have finally found a version of Tony Stark that meets his demands from two decades ago.
Cruise's Iron Man's Role in the MCU
The presence of Ultron sentries inside what appears to be Marvel's Illuminati headquarters indicates Tony Stark will be among the six faces of the Multiverse's secret society. The Illuminati are holding Doctor Strange on trial for his "desecration of reality," but future dialogue indicates the council will not necessarily see eye-to-eye on an appropriate consequence.
Stewart's Charles Xavier expresses his desire to "tell him the truth," while Chiwetel Ejiofor's Master Mordo emphasizes that Strange's actions "will not go unpunished." Where would Cruise's Superior Iron Man fall in that debate?
On the page, Superior Iron Man leans more on the villainous side. That, combined with Tony Stark's usually tense relationship with Stephen Strange, indicates Superior Iron Man is more in favor of harsh discipline.
Somewhere in there, Superior Iron Man has to square off with Scarlet Witch. Wanda Maximoff's casual attire indicates she is less prepared than her armored opponent for this bout, which consequently frames Iron Man as the antagonist in this match-up. If he's going after Scarlet Witch on Illuminati business, it indicates Wanda did something to get on their radar. Considering her affinity with "[breaking] the rules" in this trailer, it doesn't look like that will take much effort.
As long as he makes it out of Doctor Strange 2 alive, Cruise's Iron Man has significant staying power. As of Summer 2020, Marvel Studios were rumored to be developing a Marvel's Illuminati solo project, with Marvel President Kevin Feige leading producer duties. With the super-secret boy band playing integral roles in both Secret Invasion and World War Hulk comic storylines, both of which are reportedly getting live-action adaptations, the MCU future for Superior Iron Man and the Illuminati is truly limitless.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on May 6.
MCU Writer, Editor, Podcaster