Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has been in theaters for a week now, and its scared up a healthy box office even by MCU standards. Sam Raimi helmed the film, heralding his return to Marvel after the original Spider Man trilogy, and he was joined by Michael Waldron as the screenwriter. In the Doctor Strange sequel, Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) must deal with the consequences of multiversal adversary wreaking havoc in more than one reality – something he’s had a little experience with after Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Not only what Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness tasked with welcoming brand-new Avenger ally America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) to franchise, but also with serving as a culmination of Wanda Maximoff’s (Elizabeth Olsen) after WandaVision. With so many moving parts and the stakes so high, how did Waldron plan to pull it all together, and from which previous Marvel movies would he be drawing most?
Screen Rant spoke to Waldron about the journey Wanda takes in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessas well as his own journey through the MCU that began with his work on Loki season 1
Screen Rant: You have probably spent more than most thinking about the multiverse as of late. How much influence did Loki and the events of No Way Home have on Multiverse of Madness?
Michael Waldron: I at least felt fluent in the language of the multiverse, which was good. No Way Home was certainly important, because Stephen had an experience with the multiverse, and he knew that it’s dangerous. He knows to really take it seriously when America shows up, she’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 is what made all that possible. Whatever protection the TVA was providing from these multiversal shenanigans is gone at the end of Loki, so they both informed our movie a good bit.
What was the biggest challenge for you in terms of the multiverse? The hardest thing to crack.
Michael Waldron: Just trying to figure out how we would get Strange into the third act to fight Wanda on Mount Wundagore was pretty tough. Ultimately, the solution was he would possess his own corpse. When we came up with that, it was a real eureka moment.
But that was like, geez, multiversal travel is so hard. It has to be hard – it has to be an impossible thing to do, such that only America can do it. That meant when Stephen got stranded in a multiverse, in another universe without America, he really was stuck for a while. And stuff like that I
How come there is only one America? She doesn’t go and meet other multiversal variants of herself.
Michael Waldron: That’s a good question. And I think that’s the sort of thing that that I’d like to see explored in the next chapter of America’s story. Clearly, she’s a very significant being in the universe. Whether you want to call her a Nexus Being or whatever. I think that’s all stuff that’s up for grabs as we continue to explore her story.
You talked about the effect that all of this had on Strange. At the end of the movie, we see this scary moment with the third eye. Can you explain what’s happening there? Because then we get to the mid-credits, and he’s kind of vibing and back in New York again.
Michael Waldron: The bill comes due, as Mordo warned in the first movie. He used the Darkhold to possess his own corpse and the Darkhold exacts a heavy toll. I guess the question that our tag is asking is: is Stephen embracing that darkness? What does that mean for him? What path is he going down as he meets Clea and haunts off to the Dark Dimension?
I’m the biggest fan of Wanda. I was here for Halloween; I love her She became such a fan favorite after WandaVision. As someone who loves her, you’re like, “Wanda Baby, what are you doing?” It’s hard to see her go to this dark place. What conversations did you and Elizabeth Olsen have about her arc in this movie?
Michael Waldron: Lizzie has spoken about how she always tries to be the lawyer for her characters, and defend what they’re doing.
I felt like it was my job to give her the body of evidence necessary to defend Wanda and what she was doing in this movie. Whether that was the corrupting influence of the Darkhold and the effect that had on her since the events of WandaVision, [or] her very justified point of view on Stephen Strange and other heroes’ hypocrisy toward her actions. “You guys break the rules, and you become heroes. I do it, and I’m the enemy.”
I think what that pushes Wanda to is a place of anger, and I think maybe that is the one thing that wasn’t quite resolved in WandaVision that we do get to explore in this movie; that stage of anger.
One of my favorite moments, by the way, was when [Wanda says] America and then is like, “You never told me her name.” It was such a freakin’ cool moment to watch in the movie.
Michael Waldron: Yeah, that was fun. Those guys are great. You can only get away with all that if you have such good actors; Lizzie is so good, and Benedict is so great. I’m so glad we get to position them opposite one another as protagonist and antagonist. It’s really special on screen.
What character felt like the biggest pinch me moment for you to write for? What is Patrick Stewart as Professor X? What is John Krasinski as Reed Richards? What is somebody else?
Michael Waldron: Probably the second one you said. I’m not going to mention names, so I don’t get in trouble. But only because that’s probably my favorite comic book character. To get to work on originating that character in the MCU to some extent, felt super cool. That was a lot of fun.
The Illuminati has been composed of different characters at different points. How did you all decide who would show up there, and what anyone else considered?
Michael Waldron: There was plenty of other people considered, honestly, because we just never thought we could possibly get a lineup this cool. Every single member of this is the dream casting, and somehow we got all of our wrestlers. We were just super lucky in how that came together.
Can we look forward to a Marvel return from you in the near future?
Michael WaldronMaybe? 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 that actual project. But what does it mean for you to take that on?
Michael Waldron: It’s great. It’s a dream come true. In some ways, it’s freeing, because it’s not necessarily a sequel to anything. There’s an opportunity to breathe a little bit and do something that feels really original. And beyond that, it’s just fun.
I’m gonna ask point blank. What happened to Wanda at the end of this movie? Will we see her again?
Michael Waldron: Well, it’s Wanda versus a giant mountain. Who do you think would win?
Michael Waldron: Yeah, it remains to be seen. I think, as Stephen said, she did the right thing in the end. I think she leaves this movie not as the Scarlet Witch, but as Wanda. And I do think that’s a heartening final sentiment.
Did the story or the script change significantly because of WandaVision?
Michael Waldron: No. As soon as I came on in February 2020, they were shooting WandaVision, and I read all the scripts. Then COVID happened, but I was up to date. I was reading everything as it came in and talking to Jac Schaeffer about it, and then watching the cuts and everything.
But we always knew what WandaVision was, and we were up to date on it. If anything, there was increased pressure, as we were in our probably fourth week of shooting. WandaVision’s coming out and is the biggest thing in the world, and it’s like, “Great, now we’ve got her killing 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.
Check out 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 out in theatres.
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