Despite being the next chapter in Steven Strange’s MCU tale, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has plenty of company along for the voyage. Along with Rachel McAdams’ Christine Palmer, Benedict Wong’s Wong, and Xochitl Gomez’s America Chavez, the former Sorcerer Supreme shared the Doctor Strange 2 limelight with Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff, who just released her own solo effort, WandaVision.
With so many key characters and stories, some fans have pondered whether the sequel’s huge cast list really hindered it. It’s a question that will very certainly be rehashed in future rematches and retrospectives.
Doctor Strange 2 included a number of Multiversal Variants and appearances from previous Marvel-related projects and properties, and now, thanks to the publication of Multiverse of Madness, fans know that there was intended to be many more.
Now that Doctor Strange 2 will be available on Disney+ on June 22, here is a breakdown of every character that was considered for inclusion but did not make the final cut of Marvel’s Strange Multiversal sequel.
Wong is not only the next Sorcerer Supreme, but he also has a larger part in Phase 4 of the MCU, where he plays a vital role in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. However, it now seems that Wong was planned for much greater screentime as a Variant of himself.
Marvel fans know that a Variant of Wong, known as Defender Wong, was going to join Doctor Strange and America Chavez to Earth-838, where Strange finally faces the Illuminati, according to concept art by designer Dean Sherriff.
While concept art is not usually proof of an actual plan, Defender Wong was featured on film merchandising, implying that his removal was a last-minute adjustment.
Variant 2 of Christine Palmer
In comparison to 2016’s Doctor Strange, Rachel McAdams’ Christine Palmer has a lot more to do this time around. McAdams also portrayed a Variant of Christine on Earth-838, in addition to portraying Strange’s love interest who marries someone else on Earth-616.
And it is this aspect of the character that allows Steven to be vulnerable and eventually move on.
But, like Wong, it seems that the actress’s part in the sequel was going to be considerably greater.
According to McAdams, Marvel informed her that she would be portraying “three separate incarnations” of Christine Palmer, as opposed to the two seen by moviegoers in the completed film:
“It did deviate somewhat from what I was told initially, [which was] that there would be three distinct versions, and we ended up with two different versions in the end.” But they claimed I’d be portraying a totally different Christine Palmer from the previous picture, that I wasn’t an emergency department doctor, simply a very different person with a completely different life story.”
It’s unclear why Doctor Strange 2 only had two Christines rather of three, although it’s plausible that the third version was removed owing to an overly packed cast or the company replacing director Scott Derrickson with Sam Raimi.
Tom Hiddleston’s Loki was the most probable MCU figure to appear in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Loki on Disney+ served as a primer for the MCU Multiverse, exposing fans to Variants, timelines, He Who Remains, a Multiversal War, and other concepts.
Because Loki’s writer, Michael Waldron, also penned Multiverse of Madness, and Doctor Strange was venturing into the Multiverse, it only made logical that the God of Mischief (or his supporting cast) would appear in a post-credits scene.
But, unfortunately, Loki’s noble goal was not to emerge in Doctor Strange 2.
Nonetheless, there is indication that a Loki appearance was planned. In addition to The Hollywood Reporter saying that Loki will return in the Strange sequel, there were suspicions that Owen Wilson’s Morbius might make an appearance as well.
While the lack of screentime for Wong and Christine Palmer may be excused by the necessity to manage so many performers, the absence of Loki and/or Mobius seems like a wasted chance to integrate the MCU’s Multiversal plotlines and has actually contributed to further uncertainty.
Season 2 of Loki, perhaps, will address Strange and America Chavez’s Multiversal frolic and connect the connections in a manner that the film did not.
Balder the Bold
While Doctor Strange 2’s Illuminati sequence had a number of unexpected (and leaked) appearances, there were plans for more members that were scrapped.
The seventh member of the Illuminati was meant to be Thor’s brother, Balder the Brave, portrayed by 007 himself, Daniel Craig.
Craig, who elected to withdraw out of the post because to COVID-19 instances in the UK, is reportedly responsible for the decision to remove Balder the Brave from Earth-838’s Illuminati. But if the James Bond star hadn’t pulled out, the debate and ideas around Thor: Love and Thunder might have been quite different.
The Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider was another member of the Illuminati who did not make it to the final edit.
Surprisingly, this member of Earth-838’s secret club was not just considered in concept art or early screenplay versions. According to an insider, Ghost Rider’s parts were truly recorded. It’s unclear if they’ll ever see the light of day, but it’s amazing to know that Ghost Rider existed in the MCU in another era.
The Illuminati nearly had another alternative member, this time from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. On the film’s commentary track, writer Michael Waldron revealed that Hope Van Dyne’s Wasp was formerly a member of the Illuminati.
Evangeline Lilly’s character was also planned to battle Wanda, charging at the Scarlet Witch with full might. Wanda, on the other hand, released her anger by merely clapping her hands, leaving the tiny hero “smushed:”
“I believe the Wasp was initially in an Illuminati form, and the Wasp shrunk down and flew towards Wanda, and [Wanda] merely clapped her hands and smushed the Wasp in the first script.”
Wasp didn’t make it through the initial draft for unknown reasons, although it might have been owing to scheduling conflicts with bringing Lilly in for shooting. Alternatively, Marvel may not have wanted to use a hero so popular and central to the MCU as a punching bag in Multiverse of Madness. Perhaps the MCU will go to another reality at some time in the future, and Hope Van Dyne will finally be able to join the Illuminati.
Tony Stark, played by Tom Cruise
One of the most outlandish speculations surrounding Doctor Strange 2 was that a Superior Iron Man variant will be portrayed by another Maverick, Tom Cruise.
The hypothesis was based on Cruise being considered for the role of Tony Stark before Robert Downey Jr. was hired in 2008’s Iron Man. Given the utilization of timelines and Variants in Multiverse of Madness, the chance existed and would have elicited strong emotions from fans.
However, according to author Michael Waldron, the Tom Cruise claims were “completely made up.” But that’s not to say Waldron didn’t try. He really asked Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige if they could acquire Tom Cruise, but he didn’t “believe it was ever a possibility, because of availability,” to his knowledge.
Recent Wanda Maximoff-related productions have hinted to the X-impending Men’s arrival, although despite Doctor Strange 2’s early disclosure of Patrick Stewart’s Professor X, no other X-Men were included. However, this was not always the case.
According to rumours, Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, who debuted in X-Men: First Class in 2011, was intended to feature in Multiverse of Madness. His sequences, like those of Ghost Rider, were also shot.
It’s unclear why his character didn’t make the final cut, although it might be related to Marvel Studios’ planned plans for the X-Men property.
Director Scott Derrickson indicated interest in incorporating Nightmare, the king of the Nightmare Realm, in a possible sequel back in 2017, a year after the first Doctor Strange made its MCU premiere.
When Sam Raimi and Michael Waldron joined the project, it was agreed that, instead of Nightmare, Strange required a “multiversal enemy” for the film’s direction.
While Derickson was never able to film his Doctor Strange sequel, the theme of dreams did play a part in Raimi’s version of the picture. Not only did Multiverse of Madness prove that dreams exist in the Multiverse, but Wanda and Strange also “dream walked” into the bodies of their Variants.
Perhaps this is a story component left over from Derrickson’s initial Nightmare plans?
Fans anticipated Wanda to be the villain leading up to the release of Multiverse of Madness. They didn’t know why, when, or whether she’d be the only one.
When the film eventually came out, it was a little surprised that she was completely corrupted so early in the storyline. A deleted Doctor Strange 2 sequence, however, revealed that her heel change was going to be transmitted much sooner.
This deleted scene was originally the opening scene of Doctor Strange 2, and it had Wanda murdering Earth-616’s Baron Mordo from Doctor Strange, who was last seen in that film’s post-credits sequence going off on a homicidal mission that the MCU has yet to reprise.
Perhaps this very chilly opening was an effort to make good on the post-credits scene while also establishing Wanda as the major enemy of the Multiverse of Madness?
The fact that the picture moved in a different path is really a positive thing. Also enabled both spectators and Strange to be astonished by Wanda’s appearance in the orchard, and it allows Mordo to make a greater return than merely pretending to be murdered.
Was It Really Madness to Scrap These Marvel Characters?
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ box office sales plummeted dramatically the following week after a $185 million launch and poor reviews, and it never achieved the heights of Spider-Man: No Way Home or Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
The Illuminati appearances, of course, garnered the greatest attention from the crowd, and it’s difficult to think that the response wouldn’t have been even better if Doctor Strange 2 had managed to obtain Daniel Craig as Balder the Brave and particularly Tom Cruise as Superior Iron Man.
However, the fact that they did not appear in the film was due to the actors’ and their schedules, not Marvel Studios.
The verdict on whether Marvel made the correct decision by removing the other appearances is as varied as the film’s reviews. For example, removing the extra Variant of Wong and Christine resulted in a tighter picture that centered more on Strange, Wanda, and America Chavez.
Also, although the Nightmare notion is intriguing and would have complemented the sequel’s horror tones, it makes sense that he wasn’t employed, given this is a Multiversal narrative.
Now, as for Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, that’s debatable, particularly given Marvel Studios has its own ambitions for the X-Men, and the same can be said about Ghost Rider. While it would have intrigued spectators, his lack of links to the MCU, along with an introduction that resulted in his being murdered instantly, would not have added anything to the tale or character.
However, having Tom Hiddleston’s Loki or the characters of his Disney+ series deleted from the picture is the most egregious squandered opportunity. In fact, it detracted from the MCU’s Multiversal storyline.
That program informed viewers about the Multiverse. The fact that a film dubbed Multiverse of Madness had no connection to the series prompted doubts about whether the MCU had a strategy for its Phase 4 plot.
Finally, Earth-616’s version of Mordo felt like a clear wasted opportunity, but the moment in which he is slain by Wanda wasn’t either.
Mordo and Strange are scheduled for a reunion as a result of the events of 2016’s Doctor Strange and its post-credits sequence. Having him dead or not employing him at all makes little sense given what has gone before.
It has to be seen if appearances are a benefit to the MCU or a growing issue, and it’s impossible to assess the employment of such a narrative element in Multiverse of Madness. After all, the majority of its appearances were introduced solely to be murdered off, confirming what spectators already knew: Wanda Maximoff was Doctor Strange 2’s villain.
However, now that the Multiverse has been explored on the big screen, there are more options for future appearances than ever before, and it’s feasible that some of the characters eliminated from Multiverse of Madness may be revisited in the future.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now available to watch on Disney+.