Spoilers for WandaVision follow.
The Hulk showed up in Thor: Ragnarok, Black Widow was a key player in the Captain America movies, and Iron Man was effectively the antagonist in Captain America: Civil War. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we’re used to seeing big-name characters cropping up in films headlined by other superheroes.
While it seems likely that WandaVision won’t get a season 2, Wanda Maximoff will live to fight another day in another corner of the MCU. Freshly revealed to be the Scarlet Witch of legend, her reality-altering exploits in Westview, New Jersey, are set to tee up the plot for the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – due in cinemas in March 2022.
With WandaVision star Elizabeth Olsen long since confirmed to appear alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in the Sorcerer Supreme sequel, the big question now is how the events of the hit Disney Plus TV show tie into the magical action of Doctor Strange.
So we’ve delved into the WandaVision finale to explain what it means for magic in the MCU – and how it may (or may not) explain why the multiverse is the “next step in the evolution of the MCU”.
Why is WandaVision important to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness?
The connection goes way beyond the fact that Wanda Maximoff and Stephen Strange are the two most prominent way practitioners of magic in the MCU. While WandaVision director Matt Shakman has told Collider that “we have no plans for WandaVision season 2 at all” – albeit with a “that could change, of course” caveat – it’s long been known that Wanda herself will appear in the Doctor Strange sequel.
Elizabeth Olsen’s involvement was confirmed in July 2019, when Marvel Studios unveiled its hotly anticipated, post-Avengers: Endgame Phase 4 slate – including the intriguingly titled Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
What do we know about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness?
While the exact nature of Wanda’s involvement in the movie is currently unknown, we can piece together a few bits and pieces about the Sorcerer Supreme sequel.
It’s directed by Sam Raimi, who took over from Scott Derrickson after “creative differences” (as reported in Variety) prompted the director of the original Doctor Strange to leave the project. Raimi has previous form with characters created by legendary Marvel artist Steve Ditko, having directed the three Tobey Maguire-starring Spider-Man movies – the Wallcrawler was a collaboration between Ditko and Stan Lee. Raimi has also brought his Spidey composer, Danny Elfman, along for the ride.
As for the plot, the …in the Multiverse of Madness title is a big clue in itself. As Derrickson told the Hall H audience at Comic-Con 2019 (reported by Entertainment Weekly), “Just because Quentin Beck makes up lies about the multiverse [in Spider-Man: Far From Home] doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”
Marvel Studios overlord Kevin Feige expanded on the importance of the parallel realities of the multiverse to the future of the MCU in a December 2019 interview with ComicBook.com. He explained that, “When we first started the MCU, it was all about Tony Stark. Introduce the world to Tony Stark and that Iron Man armor. Then we went on to teach people what Asgardians were and learn about Supersoldiers, and then bring them together in Avengers. I’ve always loved space movies, which is why we did Guardians [of the Galaxy] and the audience came with us. I always wanted to do time travel, which we finally got to do in [Avengers:] Endgame. The multiverse is the next step in the evolution of the MCU, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is going to crack it open in ways that will have repercussions for a Disney Plus series before it (that’s not WandaVision), and for movies after it, in a big, fun way.”
It seems likely that the Time Stone – the Infinity Stone that sits at the heart of the Eye of Agamotto, worn by the Sorcerer Supreme – will open at least some of the doors to the multiverse. Indeed, a Doctor Strange 2 synopsis that appeared in Backstage revealed that: “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.”
There’s an outside chance friend-turned-enemy could be Wanda – after all, she and Strange were both part of the Avengers team that fought off Thanos, and Wanda’s use of magic may put her at odds with the Sorcerer Supreme.
Much more likely, however, is that this ally-turned-antagonist is Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Mordo. While Mordo initially fought alongside Strange in the first movie, come the end credits he’d become disillusioned with the way Strange and the Ancient One had flaunted the laws of nature. As (Baron) Mordo is also a villain in the comics, it seems likely he’ll be one of the bad guys in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
How will WandaVision set up Doctor Strange 2?
“I don’t think Doctor Strange [in the Multiverse of Madness] would make sense at all if we didn’t have WandaVision,” Olsen told USA Today in January 2021. “[Wanda] has really resisted the role that has been given to her, being this person with abilities and powers. [WandaVision] is like a full accountability and realization of ownership of what makes her unique and the accountability of her life experience. It feels like a coming-of-age story in an adult, womanly way for her with this show.”
The last two episodes of WandaVision revealed that Wanda Maximoff is much more powerful than we ever suspected – in fact, the witch Agatha Harkness confirmed that Wanda’s even more powerful than the Sorcerer Supreme himself.
We’d always assumed that Wanda’s magical powers were solely the result of her exposure to the Mind Stone as part of HYDRA experiments in her native Sokovia. That’s only half the story, however – she was born with limited telekinetic and telepathic abilities, but coming into contact with the aforementioned Infinity Stone gave them a major turbo boost.
She’s now the Scarlet Witch, a one-of-a-kind entity with the ability to wield Chaos Magic, and also seemingly a Nexus Being with the power to manipulate reality. Agatha explains that the Scarlet Witch “is not born, she is forged. She has no coven, no need for incantation. It’s [her] destiny to destroy the world.”
By the end of WandaVision, Wanda has defeated Agatha’s plans to steal her energy, and shut down the Hex field that had transformed the town of Westview into a living, breathing sitcom. As an unfortunate consequence, the reincarnated Vision and their superpowered kids, Billy and Tommy, ceased to exist.
But… the WandaVision finale’s post-credits sequence showed that Wanda has relocated to a remote mountain cabin – possibly in the vicinity of Mount Wundagore, the place of her birth in the comics. While Wanda looked her normal self, a second Scarlet Witch incarnation of herself was busy in a backroom, casting spells and absorbing information from the Darkhold. This infamous “book of the Damned” is a key source of information on dark magic.
So what’s the Scarlet Witch up to? The fact that Billy and Tommy’s calls for help were clearly audible suggests she was trying to find a way to bring them back – this would tally with storylines in the comic, where the twin brothers were also magical constructs who were subsequently reincarnated.
In fact, the Scarlet Witch’s ‘research’ could be what brings Doctor Strange and Wanda together. After all, it’s part of the Sorcerer Supreme’s remit to keep an eye on other wielders of magic, especially those who dabble too much in the dark arts. He’s sure to be interested in someone who can wield Chaos Magic, and may even enlist the help of Agatha, sentenced to a lifetime of sitcom purgatory by Wanda.
There’s also another, more subtle hint that this scene is a direct launchpad for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – a slowed-down version of Michael Giacchino’s Doctor Strange theme plays as part of the score.
Does WandaVision also set up Marvel’s multiverse?
When Evan Peters showed up on Wanda’s doorstep as her late brother, Pietro, we thought it was our first proper glimpse of Marvel’s multiverse. After all, Peters had played Peter Maximoff (aka Quicksilver) in the non-MCU X-Men movies – Aaron Taylor-Johnson had previously played the role in Avengers: Age of Ultron – suggesting there’d been some splicing of realities.
As it turned out, the true explanation was much more mundane. The WandaVision Pietro was simply Agatha’s puppet, a spy dispatched to uncover information on the world Wanda had created. Rather than being a genuine crossover with the separate timeline of the X-Men movies, this was simply a reprogrammed version of Ralph, the real-life resident of the house Agatha had taken over in her chirpy Agnes guise. The fact he looked like the other Pietro has no in-universe significance – this was just an Easter egg for viewers. The doors to the multiverse remain unopened.
That said, the reality-altering abilities Wanda revealed in WandaVision may be key to unlocking the MCU’s version of the multiverse. In the House of M story arc in Marvel’s comics, Wanda tried to use her universe-altering skills to create a new improved reality where life is better for everyone. Perhaps plans for a utopian new universe will be the catalyst for Doctor Strange’s multiverse of madness?
Every episode of WandaVision is available to watch now on Disney Plus.