Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has been in theaters for a week now, and it’s scared off a healthy box office, even by MCU standards. Sam Raimi directed the film, announcing his return to Marvel after the original Spider Man trilogy, and he was joined by Michael Waldron as screenwriter. In the strange doctor sequel, Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) must deal with the aftermath of a multiversal adversary wreaking havoc in more than one reality – something he’s had little experience with after Spider-Man: No Coming Home.
Not only was Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness tasked with welcoming newest Avenger ally America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) to the franchise, but also serving as the culmination of Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) after Wanda Vision. With so many moving parts and the stakes so high, how did Waldron plan to put it all together, and which previous Marvel movies would he draw the most from?
Screen Rant spoke to Waldron about the journey Wanda is taking Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessas well as his own journey through the MCU which began with his work on Loki season 1.
Screen Rant: YesYou’ve probably spent more than most thinking about the multiverse lately. What was the influence Loki and the events of No coming home have on Multiverse of Madness?
Michael Waldron: I felt at least fluent in the language of the multiverse, which was good. No Way Home was certainly important, because Stephen has had experience with the multiverse, and he knows it’s dangerous. He knows to really take it seriously when America shows up, it’s from another universe, and he realizes there’s a multiversal adversary. He knows, “Okay, that’s bad news.”
And then I guess the events of Loki are what made it all possible. Whatever protection the TVA provided against these multiversal shenanigans disappeared at the end of Loki, so they both informed our film well.
What has been the biggest challenge for you in terms of the multiverse? The hardest thing to break.
Michael Waldron: Just trying to figure out how we were going to get Strange into the third act to fight Wanda on Mount Wundagore was pretty tough. In the end, the solution was that he would possess his own corpse. When we found that, it was a real eureka moment.
But it was like, damn it, multiversal travel is so hard. It must be difficult – it must be an impossible thing to do, such as only America can do. It meant that when Stephen got stuck in a multiverse, in another universe without America, he was really stuck for a while. And me too.
How come there is only one America? It does not encounter other multiversal variants of itself.
Michael Waldron: That’s a good question. And I think that’s the kind of stuff I’d like to see explored in the next chapter of America’s story. Obviously, she is a very important being in the universe. Whether you want to call it a Nexus Being or whatever. I think that’s all there is to it as we continue to explore her story.
You talked about the effect all of this had on Strange. At the end of the film, we see this scary moment with the third eye. Can you explain what is happening there? Because then we get to mid-credits, and it’s kind of vibrant and back to New York.
Michael Waldron: The bill is coming due, as Mordo warned in the first film. He used the Darkhold to possess his own corpse and the Darkhold exacts a heavy toll. I guess the question our tag asks is: Does Stephen embrace this darkness? What does this mean for him? What path does he take when he meets Clea and travels to the Dark Dimension?
I’m Wanda’s biggest fan. I was her for Halloween; I love it. She became such a fan favorite after Wanda Vision. As someone who loves her, you’re like, “Wanda baby, what are you doing?” It’s hard to watch her go to that dark place. What conversations did you and Elizabeth Olsen have about her arc in this movie?
Michael Waldron: Lizzie talked about how she always tries to be an advocate for her characters and defend what they do.
I felt like it was my job to give her all the evidence needed to defend Wanda and what she was doing in this movie. Whether it’s the corrupting influence of the Darkhold and the effect it’s had on her since the events of WandaVision, [or] his very justified take on the hypocrisy of Stephen Strange and other heroes towards his actions. “You break the rules and you become heroes. I do and I am the enemy.”
I think that pushes Wanda to a place of anger, and I think that’s maybe the one thing that wasn’t quite resolved in WandaVision that we explore in this movie; this stage of anger.
One of my favorite moments, by the way, is when [Wanda says] America and then it’s like, “You never told me his name.” It was such a cool moment to watch in the movie.
Michael Waldron: Yeah, that was fun. These guys are great. You can only get away with it if you have such good actors; Lizzie is so good and Benedict is so awesome. I’m so glad we can position them opposite each other as protagonist and antagonist. It’s really special on screen.
Which character felt like the biggest pinch moment for you to write? Was it Patrick Stewart as Professor X? Was it John Krasinski as Reed Richards? Was it someone else?
Michael Waldron: Probably the second one you mentioned. I won’t name names, so I won’t get in trouble. But only because he’s probably my favorite comic book character. Getting to work creating this character in the MCU to some degree was super cool. It was very fun.
The Illuminati has been made up of different characters at different times. How did you all decide who would show up there, and was anyone else considered?
Michael Waldron: There were a lot of other people being considered, honestly, because we never thought we could get such cool programming. Every member of this cast is the dream cast, and in one way or another, we all have our ringers. We were just super lucky in how it came together.
Can we expect a Marvel return from you in the near future?
Michel Waldron: Maybe? I do not know. We’ll see. I’m busy right now in a galaxy far, far away.
I know you can’t say anything about this actual project. But what does it mean for you to assume this?
Michael Waldron: That’s great. It’s a dream come true. In some ways, it’s liberating, because it’s not necessarily a sequel to anything. There is an opportunity to take a breather and do something really original. And beyond that, it’s just fun.
I’ll ask point-blank. What happened to Wanda at the end of this movie? Will we see her again?
Michael Waldron: Well, it’s Wanda against a giant mountain. Who do you think would win?
Michael Waldron: Yeah, that remains to be seen. I think, as Stephen said, she finally did the right thing. I think she leaves this movie not as Scarlet Witch, but as Wanda. And I think that’s an encouraging final feeling.
Has the story or script changed significantly because of Wanda Vision?
Michael Waldron: No. As soon as I arrived in February 2020, they were shooting WandaVision, and I read all the scripts. Then COVID came, but I was up to date. I was reading everything as I went and talking to Jac Schaeffer about it, then watching the cuts and everything.
But we always knew what WandaVision was and we were aware of it. On the contrary, there was increased pressure, as we were probably in our fourth week of filming. WandaVision comes out and is the greatest thing in the world, and it’s like, “Great, now we’ve had it kill everyone. I hope that was the right decision!”
Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness Synopsis
Doctor Stephen Strange casts a forbidden spell that opens a portal to the multiverse. However, a threat emerges that may be too big for his team to handle.
Discover our interview with the stars of Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of MadnessBenedict Wong and Xochitl Gomez, Elizabeth Olsen and director Sam Raimi.
Next: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness MCU Box Office Comparison
Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness is currently in theaters.
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