WandaVision was a hit amongst viewers and critics alike. It was the first project to give the spotlight to Wanda Maximoff, allowing the show to explore where her powers come from—alongside the grief and trauma that she goes through on a daily basis.
Within the show, Wanda officially earned her comic accurate title: the Scarlet Witch. This came about thanks to Agatha Harkness revealing to her the true nature of her powers, and that she is far more powerful than she realizes. In fact, she can even best the Sorcerer Supreme.
Speaking of, with Wanda's powers revealed to be based more in magical roots, one would think that Doctor Strange was going to make an appearance. Clearly, that never happened—but it was at one point going to.
But why did all of that change? And what did it look like when those ideas were in play? Thankfully, fans now have some answers.
A STRANGE ABSENCE
In an interview with Rolling Stone, the topic of Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange and his absence in WandaVision. WandaVision head writer Jac Schaeffer and Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige were on hand to explain why they decided to never go all the way in introducing Doctor Strange at the end of the show's freshman run.
According to Schaeffer, there was a plan when he came onto the project, with Dr. Strange's appearance amounting to "essentially a short cameo."
"The plan when I came on board was that there would, at the end of the series, be a handoff and that Dr. Strange’s participation would amount to essentially a short cameo."
But what did those ideas look like when they were being tossed around? Schaeffer mentions that some had Benedict Cumberbatch's Strange and Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda "riding off into the sunset together."
"So early outlines had varying versions of the two of them [Wanda and Dr. Strange] kind of riding off into the sunset together. And it didn’t feel quite right. We wanted to fulfill Wanda’s agency and autonomy within this particular story. So it did feel a little tacked on."
That wasn't the only problem though. According to Schaeffer, they would have had to explore some logistical problems, including answering the question "where was he this whole time?"
"Another problem was, if Dr. Strange shows up at just the end, where was he this whole time? I did love writing variations of Dr. Strange, variations on those final beats. It was a pleasure to write for him. There were versions where she was flying past the city limits and then encountered Dr. Strange, that kind of thing."
Kevin Feige realized that people really wanted to see Doctor Strange show up by the end of the show. But it was more important to him that it not hurt the show, as he felt that Strange's arrival "would have taken away from Wanda."
"Some people might say, 'It would’ve been so cool to see Dr. Strange,' but it would have taken away from Wanda, which is what we didn’t want to do. We didn’t want the end of the show to be commoditized to go to the next movie, or, 'Here’s the white guy, let me show you how power works.' That wasn’t what we wanted to say."
What do all of these changes mean for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? The film was set to be launched at the ending of WandaVision, with Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch playing a key role in the proceedings.
Much like how they needed to re-work the ending of WandaVision multiple times, they also had to do the same for the beginning of Doctor Strange's next adventure. Feige notes "that meant we had to reconceive how they meet in that movie."
So that meant we had to reconceive how they meet in that movie. And now we have a better ending on WandaVision than we initially thought of, and a better storyline in Dr. Strange. And that’s usually how it works, which is to lay the chess pieces the way you want them to go in a general fashion, but always be willing and open to shifting them around to better serve each individual one.
A STRANGE MULTIVERSE
While it is sad that Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange never made an appearance, Feige and Schaeffer do have a point. His arrival at the last moment not only would have taken away from Wanda's journey, but it also would have introduced many logistical questions that would have needed to be answered.
Thankfully, fans won't have to wait long to see Doctor Strange and Wanda together. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is set to release on March 25 2022, and according to the creatives behind the scenes, the film will be deeply connected to WandaVision.
Doctor Strange's next adventure is going to be a crazy ride. Not only will it explore Wanda's crazy strong powers and what they mean for her destiny, but it also includes plenty of new faces—and a terrifying villain.
Somewhere out there in the Multiverse, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has already been released, and everyone loved it. Sadly, that's not the case in this universe. Hopefully, the wait will be worth it. Until then, it's best to get excited about how close everyone is to seeing Loki's upcoming insane adventure.