Despite being one of Marvel’s most ambitious films to date, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness breaks a few established Marvel rules in its quest to explore uncharted territory. Both a continuation for Wanda Maximoff after WandaVision and a continuation of the story of the titular hero, the sequel pushes the boundaries of what a Marvel movie can be on many levels. Adding a touch of genuine horror, this highly anticipated blockbuster injects a new dimension of fear into the MCU, setting it apart from previous instalments.
New allies America Chavez and the Scarlet Witch face off in the Sam Raimi-directed film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The film sees Strange protecting Chavez from an increasingly dangerous Wanda as the Scarlet Witch. MCU films such as Loki and Spider-Man: No Way Home have already introduced the concept of a multiverse, which is now well established in the franchise. MCU heroes are only now beginning to explore the multiverse concept, which was first hinted at in Spider-Man: Far from Home near the end of Phase 3.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness retcons a number of established Marvel rules and concepts by incorporating the multiverse so late into the mainstream story of the MCU. Retcons can take a variety of forms, including geographical inaccuracies or ideas that raise the question about previous instalments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, dating all the way back to Phase 2’s Iron Man 3 in the second phase. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness contains a few odd modifications about the multiverse and how the MCU operates. but these retcons come with the territory of developing long-lasting franchises.
When an octopus-like creature, eventually discovered to have been implemented by Wanda/Scarlet Witch, tries to kidnap America Chavez, Doctor Strange first encounters her. However, it is possible that Wanda has already been following America around the multiverse, even though she hasn’t actually relocated. In the movie, Wanda is after America because of her ability to traverse multiple universes with the cast of a spell. However, it is unclear how Wanda discovered America’s existence in the first place or how Wanda plans to use this power in the future.
Wanda appears to have taken refuge in a secluded cabin in the mountains near the end of WandaVision. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opens with us here in a completely different location. The bright and cheerful orchard she’s in isn’t what it seems, but her location is still distinct from the one she was last seen in, raising the question of why. She could have changed the environment herself or simply relocated her hideout, but it isn’t clear when Wanda appears in Doctor Strange 2, if any of these interpretations are applicable.
When it comes to dreams, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness proposes a fascinating idea: that they are glimpses of one’s life in another universe. This is a bold plan that, on paper, seems like a great way to give the MCU and all of its fascinating little details a little more life. However, it does lead to some inconsistencies when looking back at the characters’ previous dreams.
For instance, Tony Stark, in Iron Man 3, is afflicted by PTSD and plagued by nightmares related to the events of The Avengers. There is no doubt in my mind that the events depicted here are those from that movie, and not something else. So, while the concept is sound, it does raise a few questions when Stephen learns that every dream he has about falling is really Evil Doctor Strange killing him in another universe.
As Christine Palmer claims to have discovered in her alternate universe, Doctor Strange 2 confirms that Earth-616 is the official designation for the main MCU timeline. If you look back at Spider-Man: Far from Home, you’ll notice a plot hole in the Marvel Comics timeline. While he claims to be from Earth-833 in the movie, Mysterio tells Earth that they are currently on Earth-616. Although Peter Parker was tricked into handing over E.D.I.T.H. to Mysterio, he has no way of knowing that the MCU’s primary Earth is 616, as revealed by Mysterio himself. Doctor Strange 2’s Doctor Strange is odd in that this little swindle is now canon in the MCU.
Doctor Strange’s spell backfiring and moving across multiverses in Spider-Man: No Way Home appeared to be how the numerous villains of the other Spider-Man movie universes were brought into the mainline MCU in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. This time, Doctor Strange enters the multiverse via America Chavez, whereas No Way Home used his spell to bring in Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and their respective bad guys. As a result, the MCU’s multiverse travel system is now riddled with inconsistencies, dating all the way back to the Loki series, in which Loki and Sylvie themselves unleashed the multiverse. Although it’s not clear why these Marvel rules were broken or if these events are connected, they do create a plot hole that the MCU must fill.