Marvel skillfully sealed the Multiverse loophole that might have wiped out the entire MCU in the midst of Doctor Strange’s thrilling chaos in the Multiverse of Madness. When first introduced in the Disney+ series Loki and What If… and then making a major impact on Spider-Man: No Way Home, the Multiverse concept became an increasingly important part of MCU Phase 4.
Although Marvel’s ballsiest and widest delve into the Multiverse to date, Doctor Strange 2 provides some much-needed answers about how the concept works in the MCU throughout the movie. The answers to these questions are more substantial than even the evident demise of Scarlet Witch in the film’s closing moments and will have an impact on all future Marvel stories.
According to Doctor Strange 2, a key development confirms that the main MCU consistency takes place on Earth-616, which corresponds to the primary setting or primary universe of Marvel Comics. Aside from 2008’s release of “Avengers,” this is the first time Marvel has explicitly stated where its events take place, allowing viewers to better situate themselves as more universes come into play.
While Strange and America Chavez travel through a dizzying array of alternate realities, including an “animate cube universe” and a “living paint universe,” the movie also gives a clearer picture of the Multiverse’s incredible scope. The movie’s most important Multiversal revelation is overshadowed by all others, and it could save the MCU.
The concept of “incursions” is introduced in Doctor Strange 2 for the first time. To avoid colliding universes, a Multiversal traveler must be careful not to leave too much of an imprint on another reality. As Earth-838’s Doctor Strange discovered, this has the potential to destroy one or both realities. In the movie, the Illuminati summarily execute Strange for bringing about a universe-ending incursion, and even John Krasinski’s Mister Fantastic endorses the cold-blooded killing as a justification for their actions.
The MCU is saved by the concept of incursions, despite the dangers, they pose to individual universes. Earth-616 is largely self-contained in Marvel’s storytelling because of its opposition to long-term Multiversal travel. In order to keep the MCU’s sentimental and shocking stakes intact, this is an essential step.
Parallel or multiple universe stories have the unfortunate drawback of introducing the possibility that a character’s death could have an infinite number of alternate outcomes. A fallen character could be replaced with a multiversal counterpart, subverting the narrative immediacy of the story at hand. The introduction of a Multiverse loophole without limits would have jeopardized not only Doctor Strange 3 but also the significance of previous stories in the Marvel canon.
For example, the significance of the sacrifices made by the Avengers in Avengers: Endgame would be greatly diminished if alternate realities contained an infinite number of Iron Men and Black Widows, ensuring that neither character would be permanently lost to the main continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the concept of incursions, Marvel is able to avoid this issue and protect its storytelling integrity.
Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness may become more common now that the Multiverse is a central part of the MCU. A key safeguard has been introduced to prevent Marvel’s storylines from becoming meaningless in the face of the Multiverse’s seemingly endless creative possibilities. In the post-credits scene of Doctor Strange 2, it is clear that incursions are as important to the future of the MCU as they were in the past.