Marvel Studios dropped a spectacularly psychedelic new trailer for the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness just as the Super Bowl was getting underway.
(Some spoilers for prior installments in the MCEU below.)
As I’ve written previously, plot-wise, we know the film is set after the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, WandaVision, and the first season of Loki. The latter introduced us to the Time Variant Authority (TVA), with our mischievous protagonist encountering multiple versions of himself from various different timelines, including a female incarnation named Sylvie (Sophia di Martino). The finale featured a confrontation with a variant of Kang the Conqueror, who had been controlling the Sacred Timeline—until an impulsive act by Sylvie unleashed more timelines than the TVA could prune, destabilizing the multiverse.
What If…? introduced us to Strange Supreme, an evil alternate version of Steven Strange who gained enormous power by absorbing other mystical beings, thereby tearing reality apart. The Watcher eventually recruits Strange Supreme to be one of the Guardians of the Multiverse who collectively defeat Ultron. As for the events of No Way Home, Strange’s multiverse meddling in that film is going to have unforeseen repercussions that will likely play out in Multiverse of Madness.
Per the official synopsis: “After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Dr. Stephen Strange continues his research on the Time Stone. But an old friend-turned-enemy puts an end to his plans and causes Strange to unleash unspeakable evil. Journey into the unknown with Doctor Strange, who, with the help of mystical allies both old and new, traverses the mind-bending and dangerous alternate realities of the Multiverse to confront a mysterious new adversary.”
We saw the “old friend” in question when the first trailer dropped in December: Karl Mondo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Strange’s fellow Master of the Mystic Arts, who grew disillusioned with the order and now hunts down other mages to take away their power. Strange seeks out Wanda Maximoff/The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) as an ally as reality begins to unravel. Benedict Wong is back as Wong, now the Sorcerer Supreme (because Strange disappeared for five years in the wake of the Snappening), and we caught a glimpse of Rachel McAdams’ Dr. Christine Palmer in a wedding dress.
This new trailer has a good chunk of the same footage, but amps up the action as creatures from other dimensions begin to appear—ruining Christine’s wedding in the process, it seems. We see Mondo telling Strange he must be held accountable for meddling with the multiverse, followed by scenes of Strange in chains, being brought before some kind of tribunal.
We get a better look at Strange Supreme (“Things got out of hand…”), and it looks like Wanda, too, might encounter another version of herself, which could cause her to question her loyalty to Strange. “You break the rules, you become a hero,” Wanda says. “I do it, I become the enemy. That doesn’t seem fair.” Plus, we get the briefest glimpse of America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), a teenager who can travel between dimensions. That’s a handy power to have when reality is unraveling.
As for that “mysterious adversary”—who knows? But the cast also includes Michael Stuhlbarg as Nicodemus West, a rival surgeon acquaintance of Strange. He appeared briefly in the first trailer, standing just behind Strange in a tuxedo. Fans of the comics will recognize him as the surgeon who operated on Stephen after his accident, but was unable to repair the nerves, putting Stephen on the road to becoming Sorcerer Supreme. In the comics, West also trains under the Ancient One, and ultimately the two clash when West steals a special elixir—an encounter that proved fatal for West. It’s pure speculation, but there’s an opening shot of a closeup of what appears to be mismatched eyes, and West was born with heterochromia (a very groovy mutation, as the young Professor X would say).
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on May 6, 2022.
Listing image by YouTube/Marvel Studios