After a decade, the MCU has been using the same storytelling method with Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. With lines of dialogue like the opening of Hawkeye or the time heist in Avengers: Endgame, Benedict Cumberbatch’s second solo film is full of references to previous MCU instalments.
Doctor Strange 2 introduced the terms “incursion” and “dream walking” to the MCU in the same way Loki did with terms like “Variant” and “Sacred Timeline.” When a character takes control of their Variant body from another universe, they can manipulate it to their liking. This is accomplished through the use of dreams, which, as the name suggests, provide a window into other worlds.
In the opening scene of Multiverse of Madness, Strange gets a glimpse of this. Defender Strange aids America Chavez in her search for the Book of Vishanti in a parallel universe that the MCU’s Strange believes to be a dream. Re-introducing Elizabeth Olsen’s fan-favorite Wanda Maximoff is another example of this technique being used in the show’s reintroduction.
Those are just a few examples of Marvel Studios characters having dreams in the past. As a matter of fact, the MCU’s former anchor used to have a bleak recurring nightmare that fans now know is the fate of another universe.
From Iron Man 3 to Avengers: Endgame, Robert Downey Jr. ‘s Tony Stark was haunted by the events of The Avengers. For “six years,” Tony Stark awoke with nightmares of the final moments of the Battle of New York, visions of his slain teammates, and memories of Thanos residing rent-free in his head.
It had previously been assumed that Iron Man’s nightmare scenarios represented Earth-616’s bleak future. but according to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, they are actually the dark futures of other universes.
Iron Man 3’s opening sequences take viewers back to the Battle of New York, this time from the perspective of a hero dealing with PTSD. When an autograph-seeking fan inquires as to how Tony “got out of the wormhole,” he triggers a dark memory that resurfaces throughout the rest of the film.
When Tony is unable to sleep well, he resorts to work as a form of distraction because he can’t get enough rest. If Gwenyth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts can get Tony to join her in bed once more, he will have a terrible nightmare. He will call for the Iron Man suit to help him.
After a brief glimpse of the Battle of New York, the audience is left in the dark as Tony’s restless tosses continue. Even in this alternate reality, the Battle of New York might not have gone according to plan. Even though that’s not shown in Iron Man 3, Stark’s next appearance goes into greater detail about this alternate reality.
For the majority of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Wanda Maximoff sends harrowing visions to each of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. The Scarlet Witch’s hex magic sets off a recurring nightmare for billionaire playboy philanthropist Tony Stark.
Tony is transported to a space battleground littered with the remains of his fallen teammates. Captain America, who is lying next to Tony’s shattered shield, says in his final breaths that Tony “could have saved us. Many Leviathans circle above his head, en route to Earth via a massive wormhole.
Thanos reappears in the post-credits scene of Age of Ultron, but this invasion is likely from a universe where the Mad Titan leads the charge onto Earth following Loki’s failure. Earth-616 was no longer safe from Thanos’ terror after he transformed into the crusader he is today. A bloodthirsty conqueror who carried out genocides on every planet insight was the previous owner of the Infinity Gauntlet.
It is a glimpse into a world where Thanos was less patient and Earth was higher on his list of planets to target. After the Battle of New York, Thanos sent another army to test the waters in this universe rather than waiting six years. With the Mind and Time Stones, Thanos would be able to get out of this invasion, but he is likely to pillage Earth’s people as he did Gamora’s homeworld of Zen-Whoberi.
The most intriguing aspect of this is what it means for Infinity War in this universe. In order for Thanos to achieve his ultimate goal of wielding all of the stones, he would have to target Asgard and Vormir. There will be no more Earth’s Mightiest Heroes left to protect our galaxy if Captain Marvel and Loki are wiped out.
“[Pepper’s] eccentric uncle” was the name Tony had in his mind when he spoke to Pepper in the first scene of Avengers: Infinity War. In Avengers: Endgame, a young Morgan Stark is introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
A glimpse into a different universe was provided by Tony’s Infinity War dream; he had already fathered children there. It’s a boy in that universe for Tony’s child.
“I had a dream about it! It was so real!”
While Tony Stark has never been depicted as a father in the comics, one storyline depicts him as a father in an alternate future. This issue of Invincible Iron Man depicts Tony and his son Howard III making the ultimate sacrifice in order to end the Mandarin’s rule over the planet. The Starks may have defeated Thanos if the MCU alternate universe featuring Tony’s son follows the pattern shown on the page.
Iron Man isn’t the only character who uses dreams as portals. Are Sam Raimi and Andrew Garfield’s Amazing Spider-Man films a part of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker’s dreams? Did Steve Rogers binge-watch all 70 years of Captain America comics while he was out on the ice? Is Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, a fan of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”?