Phase 5 kicked off this past month with the premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. The film highlighted a very important story motif introduced in several projects of Phase 4: the Multiverse. The Multiverse as a story point includes introducing the concepts of alternate universes, variants of characters, and of incursions between two or more universes. These concepts were also explored in Loki, What If…?, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Three out of four of these projects included Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange as a key player.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania emphasized these concepts thanks to elaboration from the time-traveling, multiversal traveler Kang the Conqueror. Portrayed by Jonathan Majors, Kang offered exposition regarding his variants and how the Multiverse has been affected thanks to his meddling. However, some new details have come to light regarding how Kang’s role in the MCU is set to play out. And how these two characters will be a part of the Multiversal Endgame.
The Multiversal Endgame – Doctor Strange Vs. Kang
Our sources have informed us that the final matchup explored leading into the next Avengers films will be pitting Doctor Strange vs. Kang on the opposite sides of the battle to come. Both Strange and Kang will serve as the key players for each side. This matchup is comparable to Tony Stark vs Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
However, the distinct detail that separates this story from the one told before with Tony and Thanos is the role that Kang will take in this matchup. Kang’s perspective (and the angle Marvel Studios will want to pitch to audiences) is that he’s the hero trying to save the Multiverse from its greatest threat yet… Doctor Stephen Strange.
Doctor Stephen Strange… the villain???
This notion of Doctor Strange being the villain isn’t too far-fetched. After all, we already saw a Sinister Strange variant in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. I have theorized in the past that Sinister Strange is the outcome most Stranges will eventually become, similar to how Kang Prime ultimately becomes Immortus.
Everyone assumes that Kang and his variants are the ones causing the endless incursions across the Multiverse. What people won’t realize is that a majority of these incursions are caused by Stephen in attempts to either defeat Kang or Thanos or another Multiversal threat. Most outcomes end up being that Stephen’s incursions across the Multiverse are what causes the end of those universes to begin with. This was hinted at by John Krasinski‘s Mr. Fantastic variant in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
There has also been concept art of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness released recently by artist Thomas DuCrest. This concept was confirmed to be a part of the early exploration details for Sinister Strange, originally the comics villain, Nightmare, in the script for Scott Derrickson‘s take on a Doctor Strange sequel before it was helmed by Sam Raimi and Michael Waldron.
Michael Waldron has stated that the original story “had a lot of really cool ideas in it, and we were initially going to just try to figure out our version of that story in time to start shooting the movie…” What’s interesting is that although there were several tonal shifts in story discrepancies, the idea of multiple Strange variants dying was kept for Multiverse of Madness.
In the film, we saw the deaths of Strange variants from Earth-838 and Earth-617, before it was implied by the Sinister Strange variant that he was responsible for the deaths of multiple Strange variants. The main question is why? If he wanted to take over the life of a random Strange variant just to be with Dr. Christine Palmer, then he could have simply killed one and would have taken his place. But no, the implication here seems that Sinister Strange was exterminating his variants for another reason. And that’s where the rest of my “What I Heard” report takes me.
Sinister Strange is preventing a future that has yet to pass
According to our sources, Sinister Strange has been terminating his variants to avoid the inevitable future of an incursion between two universes. This is in order to avoid leading to Sinister Strange and his current circumstances in the future.
Think of him as the anti-Immortus. Immortus wants to find Kang Prime so Kang can become Immortus. Sinister Strange is trying to avoid his future from ever happening to other universes. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, it’s inevitable. 616 Strange has already begun an incursion on his own universe, and the consequences will surely be catastrophic moving forward.
This concept is an interesting way to depict Sinister Strange’s motives for doing what he has done. And while these concepts were not explored in the Doctor Strange sequel, it’s not unlikely that we’ll never know what the original vision for the film was. It is possible, according to one source, that the original concepts written for Derrickson’s Multiverse of Madness script focusing on Stephen and his character may be used in another project. That is potentially for Doctor Strange 3 or one of the upcoming Avengers films.
If Marvel decides to go this route, it would raise multiple ethical questions. Although Doctor Strange has good intentions, it’s clear that his actions are not the best ones suited to handle multiversal threats moving forward. It’s an interesting case of the lesser of two evils. What is worse, allowing Kang to rule or risking causing an incursion to stop him? But that will be a question answered another day.
What do you think about seeing Doctor Strange vs. Kang play out like this in the Multiverse Saga? Do you like the idea of making Strange the unintentional antagonist? Let us know on Twitter @mycosmiccircus or join The Cosmic Circus Discord. You can also sign up for our email updates list via the form below.