WandaVision, Loki and Spider-Man: No Way Home have opened up the Marvel Cinematic Universe – or shall we say, Multiverse – to numerous variants known and unknown to audiences, and everyone got a sneak peek of numerous variants of beloved characters in the first season of Disney+’s What If…? animated series.
But that is just the beginning, as it looks like the finger pointing ala Spider-Man will enter the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness movie, especially when the film’s earliest trailer saw a Doctor Strange variant declare, “Things just got out of hand.”
That’s right. Based on the many trailers of the upcoming movie, there are many faces of the good Doctor, and we’ve identified the many faces of Stephen Strange that are making an appearance in the upcoming sequel.
Prime Stephen Strange
Before we figure out what to call variants, we should consider what to call the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the core characters we know. Earth 1? Earth Prime? Earth-199999? Well, whatever the proper name is, this Stephen Strange is the man we know and love/loathe from the MCU, who has appeared in numerous movies since his debut in Doctor Strange (2016). Whilst fans speculate that this Stephen Strange may embrace his darker side in the sequel, trailers suggest that he is more or less his normal self. Despite his character’s legacy in the comics, this version is not yet the Sorcerer Supreme, and has tons of issues that he needs to clean up.
He’s got to deal with Wanda Maximoff, who has messed with reality in Disney+’s WandaVision; the giant tentacled kaiju, Gargantos, terrorising the streets; Mordo, the wizard hunter friend turned enemy at the end of the first movie, and let’s not forget a world to save following the imminent disaster that almost befell Earth after the events of No Way Home.
Oh and as if he doesn’t have enough responsibilities to bear, in comes variants of his who look like they are about to start a few problems too.
In the trailer, we see Strange walk into a dark room and a variant of his greets him and says “Things just got out of hand.” This Strange looks an awful lot like Doctor Strange Supreme from What If…?, but are we sure?
In the Disney+ episode, What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?, the event which put Strange on the path to becoming a sorcerer was not injuring his hands in a car accident, but losing his love interest, Dr Christine Palmer in the crash. Overcome with grief, this variant of Doctor Strange studied dark magic to try to bring her back to life, eventually absorbing a great number of mythical beings to become more powerful. He later became as evil as the creatures he absorbed. His actions caused reality to break apart – buildings and surroundings melted into black goo – similarly seen in the Doctor Strange 2 trailer.
Based on the ending of that episode, it’s unlikely that these are the same characters. Instead, this trailer’s Sinister Strange seems to only be taking inspiration from the animated show’s character design, and we assume it to be an entirely different character. So how did this Sinister Strange turn evil?
Well, we know the mystical Darkhold will factor into this movie, so what if Sinister Strange turned evil because of the book? Either way, it looks like good Strange will have to battle it out with Sinister Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
In the Marvel Comics, the Defenders are a superhero team formed by Doctor Strange to ward off demonic and interdimensional threats. We know, there is another team of Defenders in live-action, but we’re not focused on them right now. The Defenders here originally consisted of Strange, the Hulk, and Prince Namor, but eventually grew to include the Silver Surfer, Valkyrie, Hawkeye, Luke Cage, the Red Guardian, and other Marvel characters, some of who have yet to make their live-action debut.
In the trailers, fans see a glimpse of Strange dressed differently, in the Defenders garb with his long hair tied back in a ponytail. So where would this variant come from? How about a world where the Avengers lost say, to Thanos, and the remaining heroes had to band together, to defend the planet?
When Sinister Strange first appeared in the trailer, many assumed him to be Doctor Strange Supreme from What If…?, but now it looks like there’s another variant, Supreme Strange.
In one of the trailers, Wanda points out the double standard between how people view her and Strange’s parlay in altering reality. We see Strange looking at a giant statue of himself and it is a clean-shaven version, wearing a Cloak of Levitation with a high pointed collar that reaches over Strange’s head. This is similar in looks to the Doctor Strange in the comics, but how do we know his name is Supreme Strange?
Well, we have Funko to thank for this, as a leaked Funko pop figurine establishes that a clean-shaven Doctor Strange will appear, so we put two and two together, and surmise that Supreme Strange is another variant who will pop up in the film.
Well, here’s another one we’ve seen before. Zombie Strange, or a rather grotesque looking creature, was first seen in – you guessed it – What If… ?. In the trailer, we see a terrified Strange looking at his disintegrating hand as he turns into a zombie. We later get a shot of a fully zombified Strange casting a spell that gives him multiple arms.
The fact that we also see a zombified Wanda in the later trailers helps with the case that Zombie Strange is more than likely to appear. Again, we’ve seen the episode of What If… ? and it seems unlikely this version is the same one from the animated series.
While some of their names suggest more nefarious intents, there is no way to know or tell if these Doctor Strange variants are allies or enemies intent on thwarting our hero off the path.
Either way, it seems like we’ll only get our answers when Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness premieres this 4 May 2022.