Films

The right way to enter the multiverse ahead of Dr. Strange sequel

Written by Omair Alavi

The sequel to Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Dr. Strange is all set for a worldwide release on May 6, but going into Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness wouldn’t be a simple task like say, watching a movie. There is a lot at stake both on and off-screen, and if you go into the theatre unprepared, you will feel as lost as Thanos did in the final Avengers movie.

So how should one prepare oneself for the sequel of Dr. Strange where Wanda makes an ‘extended’ appearance, where Dr. Strange manages to save his girlfriend, and where multiple Dr. Stranges can be seen! You don’t need to be a Sorcerer Supreme to be ready for the biggest challenge since Spider-Man: No Way Home which was released six months back. You just have to be in the zone to make sense of what’s happening on screen.

And to be in that zone, all you need to do is rush to the neighborhood DVD shop or access these shows (not legally, sadly!) to well-versed yourself with the films and Disney+ TV shows that would make you understand the happenings in the world of Dr. Strange.

If you haven’t seen the original Dr. Strange then you don’t need to go ahead, because then a lot would be meaningless to you including the final two Avengers flicks. But if you have seen the film where Dr. Strange makes his first appearance, then the list below is for you, since it will make you more than ready to enter the multiverse.

WandaVision (Disney+ TV)

Nothing is more important than watching WandaVision before buying the ticket for Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness because Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) features as much in the new movie as Benedict Cumberbatch who plays the title character. Just like Dr. Strange, Wanda is having nightmares of her own that seem too true to be real. How did she end up in such a place, is exactly what WandaVision tells you since it serves as an introduction to Wanda and The Vision’s life after Avengers: Endgame.

At first, Wanda used to be a supporting character in the MCU but through WandaVision, she got the spotlight she deserved. The nine-episode series not only successfully kicked off Marvel’s innings with Disney+ TV, but also revealed the origins of the Scarlet Witch’s powers. She is the reason things go from bad to worse in the Multiverse as before Dr. Strange, she had been there, done that. She might still be an Avenger, but after the events of WandaVision, no one knows where her loyalty rests.

Loki (Disney+ TV)

He may not have anything to do with Dr. Strange but he has everything to do with the alternate timelines, which sort of form the backbone of the multiverse. With Tom Hiddleston in the lead as Thor’s stepbrother Loki, this six-episode series teaches you all there is to know about alternate timelines before Dr. Strange raised the bar by dealing with the multiverse. Not only did the series make ‘Variants’ a part of pop culture but it also opened the minds of the audience by taking them through the concept of alternate timelines, where Loki met his different forms including a female variant, and an animal variant to name a few.

The scene where the animated mascot of Time Variance Authority Ms. Minutes explain timelines and variants reminds one of the animated sequences in the original Jurassic Park where the audience gets to know how dinosaurs were brought back and why they can’t be dangerous. We all know how that turned out to be, and the same goes for Loki where everyone is not what they seem, and everything is not how they claim to be. Furthermore, the climax of Loki is where the multiverse was created, and which almost serves as MCU’s multiverse’s origin story.

Spider-Man: No Way Home (Film)

And then there was the last Spider-Man movie that could truly have been titled Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Part 1! It is where MCU’s resident wizard did the unthinkable and unleashed forces far beyond his control. Not only did Spider-Man: No Way Home go on to become one of the highest-grossing Hollywood films of all time, but it also set up a major plot point for its unofficial sequel – the trial of Dr. Strange.

In Spider-Man: No Way Home, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) asks Dr. Strange to make his secret identity a secret again but things don’t go as planned, and Dr. Strange’s problems go from global to multiversal. How Dr. Strange restores order and sends back those who came to destroy his world is what makes Spider-Man: No Way Home a must-watch.

It was at the end of the last Spider-Man that Dr. Strange approached Wanda and together they become part of the Multiverse of Madness, without doing anything extra. So, if you want to know the background of their story, watch Spider-Man’s last outing, otherwise be ready to look clueless inside the cinema.

What If…? (Disney+ TV)

Thankfully, when the weird-looking Dr. Strange made his appearance in the end credits of Spider-Man: No Way Home, I was amongst the fortunate ones who knew that he was evil. How did I know that, you might ask? Well, I belonged to that category of the audience who knew that they had to watch What If …? even if Marvel or Disney+ didn’t promote it properly. And now we know that the producers of the live-action Dr. Strange sequel cited the series as inspiration for the version we are about to see in theatres.

Narrated by The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright), What If …? Is an animated series that answers the many hypothetical questions in the minds of MCU fans. Based on a comic series, it takes the audience back into the origin stories, changing some of the origins on their way back.

In the fourth episode of the series, titled ‘Dr. Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?’, Dr. Strange makes a conscious decision to alter history, which breaks him into two versions or variants (whatever you want to call it) of himself. While one of them still has good in him, the ‘Strange Supreme’ version is what we call the evil one, whose taking matters into his own hands invites trouble.

Bonus Material

Watching the first Dr. Strange (2016) would help you refresh your memory regarding the origin of Dr. Strange whereas the Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019) will show you why Dr. Strange is both respected and feared. Although it might not be ‘very necessary, but since Dr. Strange’s boss Wong made his ‘presence’ felt in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021), a quick viewing might not hurt anyone.

About the author

Omair Alavi