[The following story contains spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.]
Now that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has been released to the tune of $507 million worldwide, many questions have been answered, but there are still many more. Is John Krasinski a lock to reprise his role as Reed Richards in the upcoming The Fantastic Four? Who owned the empty chair as Doctor Strange stood trial before the Illuminati of Earth-838?
Multiverse of Madness screenwriter and Loki Lead Writer Michael Waldron can’t answer these questions at this time, but he can add a little more clarity regarding Lokiends, which apparently opened up the multiverse before strange doctorfate turned ugly in Spider-Man: No Coming Home.
“Well I think [Loki’s ending is] which makes it all possible. The Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it, Earth-616, has been isolated from any multiversal shenanigans… After the events of the Loki final, this protection has disappeared. That’s why you can incorporate villains and characters from other Spider-Man movies, and that’s why in the new strange doctorour characters can travel to other universes,” says Waldron The Hollywood Reporter.
In a recent conversation with THRWaldron also shared the origin story behind the shocking Illuminati streak, before discussing the common thread between Stephen Strange, Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and newcomer America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez).
Between Wanda Vision and Multiverse of Madnesshow long did the Darkhold take root in Wanda?
It’s never specifically defined, but it’s been around long enough. We don’t pick up the next day [WandaVision] label; that’s for sure. So it’s definitely long enough to really hook it.
The “I never said their name” trope is always satisfying, so I loved how you flipped it by having Wanda diagnose her mistake of mentioning America’s name (Xochitl Gomez). This, in turn, revealed that Wanda was the film’s villain.
Yes absolutely. I also like this trope. I was like, ‘That’s a trope I saw. I’m certainly not innovating here. But it was just exciting, and it felt like Strange was a detective. So this moment is so scary, and the actors were both so awesome. We had a lot of fun with it.
For the Illuminati, did Marvel Brass basically give you a list of available characters and tell you to go for it?
No, that scene wasn’t even in my plan. i just wrote it in [the script], and they said, “That’s cool. We should.” And then it was a constant back and forth to figure out who was the right mix of characters. Who makes sense to actually be in an Illuminati alternate universe? And who we ended up with, we felt like it was the impossible group. We never thought we would have all these people, but we did.
And when did their slaughter then enter the equation?
It was in the first draft. It was there. I liked how they came in and made the audience feel safe, and then Wanda gets even scarier when she takes them out.
Is John Krasinski’s Casting Any Indication That He’ll Be The Reed Richards We’ll Eventually Meet In The Fantastic Four? Or was it just a cool way for him to satisfy all the fans and get out of here?
It’s a question above my salary.
Who owns the empty chair on the Illuminati stage?
This is also an unanswered question, but we have talked about it a lot. Maybe it was just a mistake. Maybe the whole [decorator] the guy had too many chairs. (Laughs.)
Do you really know the answer, or is it open for the moment?
A bit of both.
Reed Richards quoted 838-Strange as saying, “Things had gotten out of control,” and that’s a variation of the line Sinister Strange said in the trailer. Since the Sinister Strange line was cut from the movie, was 838-Strange originally meant to become Sinister Strange?
No, they were never the same guy. The Sinister Strange line was just there as a bit of symmetry. This idea is really starting to weigh on Stephen: “Jesus, is every one of me bad in the multiverse? And if that’s true, does that mean I’m destined to become evil? But as often happens, this line was ultimately just a trailer line and did not make it into the final cut.
Wanda, Strange, and America each have to let go of the people they love. Can you tell us about this parallel track that all three have traveled vis-à-vis their loved ones?
All three characters deal with loss, and Wanda deals with it in a much more visceral way than anyone. Strange also tells how he lost his sister, then he has to say goodbye to Christine [Rachel McAdams] at the end. And the whole origin story of America is the loss of its parents. So they’re all broken characters trying to find their way in this world, but the biggest difference between the three is that the Darkhold got their hands on Wanda in this particular story.
So how does the multiversal end of Loki fit into Spider-Man: No Coming Home and Madnes Multiverses multiversal exploits?
Well, I think that’s what makes it all possible. The MCU as we know it, Earth-616, was insulated from any multiversal shenanigans, or maybe the multiverse didn’t even exist before the events of the Loki final. After the events of Loki final, this protection has disappeared. The multiverse exists, and the MCU universe is now part of it. That’s why you can incorporate villains and characters from other Spider-Man movies, and that’s why in the new strange doctorour characters can travel to other universes.
Since Wanda has real children in at least one other universe, does that suggest they were fathered by human vision?
Potentially, yeah! Maybe, maybe not.
I know you made an appearance at Christine’s wedding, but what was your most surreal day on set as a writer?
For this one, I was on set every day, which was so much fun. Every day was surreal, but some of those days with the Illuminati were certainly crazy. But also seeing Benedict in full zombie makeup, going up against a super-powered Scarlet Witch was really exciting just because those actors are so, so good. So it was pretty surreal as well.
Whether it be strange doctor and Loki or star wars and heelshow did you manage to spin all these plates at the same time?
Well, I have excellent collaborators. On all these projects, I am surrounded by great teams. I’m just a cog in the wheel. (Laughs.) So I’m lucky to be part of these teams, and you have to trust your collaborators. That’s how I was able to bounce back.
Before I go, I have to say how much I loved Crystal Tyler’s (Kelli Berglund) story on heels. At one point, the show just seemed to want to gravitate towards her.
I’m so glad to hear that! It was there from my very first pitch of the series, that Crystal was the hero in many ways of the first season of heels. We really need to do an accelerated, underdog-rise-to-the-top story in the first season. So with season two of heelsit’s exciting to explore what’s happening to her now that she’s tasted success.
Interview edited for length and clarity. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness now playing in theaters.