There’s a sense of justice that after Sam Raimi first helped ignite our current passion for superhero action movies, he’s back and doing it for a whole new generation. Swapping spiders for sorcerers, the Evil Dead director is opening the Darkhold for Doctor Strange 2.
After Loki’s finale slew the one keeping the Multiverse in check and No Way Home wove a wicked web of multiversal Spider-Man villains, it’s finally over to Raimi to explore the potential of these uncharted waters. To quote Doctor Strange himself, “the Multiverse is a concept about which we know frighteningly little.”
The clue was already in the name, but now the credits have rolled, it’s true that Multiverse of Madness is the most maddening movie to grace the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and you thought seeing Willem Dafoe in a hoody was out there. With this in mind, let’s dig into the Doctor Strange 2 Easter eggs and cameos that you might have missed. Hold onto your butts for a tour of Marvel history that moves at breakneck speed.
Having Sam Raimi on board to direct means you know you’re in for a horror show. The Multiverse of Madness was hyped as the MCU’s first hero-horror movie hybrid, and it didn’t miss the mark on that front. Aside from his Spider-Man movies, Raimi is immortalised for the Evil Dead movies, so you might be able to spot a few homages.
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Namely, the Oldsmobile Delta 88 Raimi sneaks into his movies can be found in Sinister Strange’s wrecked reality. The scene where Wanda possesses Earth-838 Maximoff is also reminiscent of the Bad Ash hallucination in Evil Dead II. If this wasn’t enough, the entire final battle involving a zombified Defender Strange and a cloak made of demonic souls was pure Raimi.
Flying the rainbow flag (sort of)
Before Multiverse of Madness came out, there was controversy about its LGBTQ+ themes, which led to it being banned in China and Saudi Arabia. You might expect it to go heavy on same-sex relationships, but in fact, it’s thanks to just 12 seconds of footage.
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Canonically, America Chavez is a lesbian Latina, which should be huge news for diversity given the MCU’s troubled past. Unfortunately, Xochitl Gomez’s version is queer by assumption only. Despite wearing a Pride pin, there’s no actual confirmation America is a lesbian. Instead, that banned scene is because of a throwaway line about her “moms”.
Shuma-Gorath vs Gargantos
Raimi successfully tweaked several comic book creations. However, he definitely did the dirty on the massive Shuma-Gorath when the director merged him with a minor Marvel character called Gargantos. It turns out that Heroic Signatures still owns the rights to Shuma-Gorath’s name alongside the likes of the Conan the Barbarian IP.
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Heroic confirmed that Marvel Studios never approached it about Shuma-Gorath, which is presumably why the similar-looking (but definitely different) Gargantos was used. Appearing in a single 1969 comic and then again 20 years later, Gargantos has never had anything to do with Doctor Strange. We guess he looked just enough like the Shuma-Gorath to double up for Doc’s famous foe.
The Fantastic Four and two more?
Even if we don’t know what the plot of Jon Watts’ Fantastic Four standalone was before he stepped away, there could already be two new recruits to the famous quartet. Christine Palmer mentioned being a top scientist for the Baxter Foundation, and although that would’ve been enough of a tease for Marvel’s First Family, John Krasinski popped up as Reed Richards just moments later.
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Ben Grimm, Johnny Storm, and Sue Storm don’t appear, but given Krasinki’s marriage to Emily Blunt, we’re betting the latter will be played by her. Finally, Reed mentioned his kids at home, hinting that Franklin and Valeria Richards could factor into the upcoming outing. Both are powerful beings, with Franklin famously helping repair the Multiverse after one of those incursions everyone keeps talking about.
The Marvel’s What If…? ties came thick and fast, with zombies, Captain Carter, and a villainous version of Doctor Strange. Early promos had us thinking Multiverse of Madness would be a full-blown crossover with the animated series, but instead, these were just more variants. What If…? ‘s Strange Supreme might not appear, however, an equally deranged version became an endgame adversary as Sinister Strange.
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During a visually stunning battle, our Doc knocked Sinister Strange out the window, where he was impaled in gruesome style. Even though evil Strange kicked the bucket, Multiverse of Madness ended with our hero sporting the same third eye due to the Darkhold’s corruption. Is he destined to become Earth-616’s very own Sinister Strange?
X-Men: The Animated Series
A major reveal before Multiverse of Madness even hit cinemas was the shock return of Patrick Stewart from Fox’s X-Men movies. While many assumed Charles Xavier came from Days of Future Past’s happy ending timeline, Professor X wheeled into action in a familiar-looking wheelchair.
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Sporting his mode of transport from X-Men: The Animated Series, Xavier was sitting in that iconic yellow hoverchair. There was also a rousing musical cue with the theme music we all recognise. With Disney+ working on X-Men ’97 as a continuation for next year, does that mean Wolverine’s spandex suit is finally canon in the MCU, and will Stewart be taking over from Cedric Smith to voice him in the revival?
Surprising no one, Wanda Maximoff broke bad and embraced her legacy as the Scarlet Witch – using the darkness of the Darkhold to try and track down her kids in an alternate reality. However, it was corruption that drove Wanda to her insanity when she was fuelled by the dark magic of Chthon.
Much like in the comics, Wong describes Chthon as the universe’s first dark entity. When Wanda and Wong trekked to the perilous Mount Wundagore, it was revealed as a throne for the Scarlet Witch. Fans were wrong, and though Chthon doesn’t actually appear, the temple was manned by grunts that look just like his comic book counterpart.
The return of Ultron
We could write a whole article about what was going on in the Illuminati HQ, but in terms of tantalising tidbits, you might be interested to know there’s a voice cameo from a famous face of the MCU’s past. The Illuminati used an army of Ultron Centurions to keep them safe, but they were no match for Earth-838’s possessed Wanda.
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Despite being a great opportunity for James Spader to reprise his role as the ruthless robot, it was over to The Walking Dead’s Ross Marquand. If you don’t know his MCU credentials, it was Marquand who took over from Hugo Weaving to play Red Skull in Infinity War and Endgame.
The Living Tribunal
The third time’s a charm, as the long-awaited arrival of the Living Tribunal finally comes to pass in Multiverse of Madness. Loki viewers might remember a statue of this comic deity appeared in the Void, while the Avengers: Infinity War writers confirmed Thanos was supposed to meet the Living Tribunal and be judged.
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When America and Strange were being whipped through the paint-filled and dinosaur-packed dimensions of the Multiverse, the pair briefly passed through one populated by the Living Tribunal. In Marvel Comics, the Living Tribunal is as old as the Multiverse itself and is something of a cosmic bouncer there to safeguard all realities.
The Campbell Cameo
Remembering Sam Raimi’s legacy of working with Bruce Campbell, it was only right he snuck in a Multiverse of Madness cameo. Appearing on Earth-838 as the grouchy Pizza Popps, Campbell plays a street vendor who takes his rage out on America Chavez. Sadly, Campbell didn’t get to play an older Strange like Richard E. Grant’s Classic Loki.
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After being enchanted into hitting himself by Strange, Pizza Poppa pops up for the second post-credit scene. It’s another Evil Dead II Easter egg where he’s being battered by his possessed hand. Part of us hoped things would’ve come full circle and let Campbell play Mysterio like he was supposed to in the canned Spider-Man 4. Alas.