It was already difficult enough to maintain up with the 27 movies and half-dozen Disney+ TV shows within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But now, in “Doctor Strange within the Multiverse of Madness,” out Friday, you furthermore may should keep track of multiple versions of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), also often called the Scarlet Witch. And who knows who else — it’s the multiverse, in any case, so there are multiple versions of, well, everyone.
The trailers for “Multiverse of Madness” have made it out to be a crossover event that’s perhaps not “Avengers: Endgame”-level, but actually close. Eagle-eyed fans could have spotted connections to “WandaVision,” “Loki” and even zombie versions of a number of characters, apparently from Episode 5 of the lesser-known Disney+ animated series “What If … ?,” in addition to the M.C.U. debut of Patrick Stewart’s Professor X, the founding father of the X-Men.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with greater than three days’ value of M.C.U. content, and there may be, after all, the bare minimum option of watching the primary “Doctor Strange” film and calling it a day. But those that didn’t watch “WandaVision” could also be left going “Westview what?” after the brand new movie.
Here’s a guide to the five movies and series it is advisable to brush up on before heading to the theater.
‘Doctor Strange’ (2016)
Dr. Strange’s solo film debut provides a primer on how Cumberbatch’s cocky neurosurgeon, Stephen Strange, got here to be a master of the mystic arts, the Sorcerer Supreme and the guardian of the Time Stone. It also introduces his tempestuous relationship with Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), who returns in an enormous way within the fourth episode of “What If… ?” and in addition appears in a “Multiverse of Madness” trailer in a marriage gown (apparently marrying a person who is unquestionably not Dr. Strange, because the latter looks on from a pew). Also making a trailer appearance is Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Strange’s onetime friend turned foe, as this film explains.
‘Avengers: Infinity War’ (2018)
In Dr. Strange’s “Avengers” debut, he’s kidnapped by Ebony Maw, who’s after the Time Stone. Tony Stark and Peter Parker eventually rescue him, and it becomes evident how way more powerful he has grow to be since “Doctor Strange,” as he holds his own against Thanos, the Everlasting-Deviant warlord, despite possessing only a single Infinity Stone compared with Thanos’s 4. Strange also breaks the principles and appears forward in time to see all of the possible scenarios by which the Avengers win.
The film plays a vital role in establishing Wanda’s back story, as its events are the source of her grief in “WandaVision,” and proceed to haunt her in “Multiverse of Madness.” In the sooner movie, Wanda was forced to kill Vision, with whom she was romantically involved, to forestall Thanos from stealing the Mind Stone from Vision’s head, only to look at Thanos reverse time, pluck it out and kill Vision again.
This retro-aesthetic Disney+ show is hardly peripheral; the nine-episode series, which pays homage to classic sitcoms like “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” supplies crucial plot details that arrange the events of “Multiverse of Madness.” Wanda is actually a co-lead of the brand new film, and this series illustrates how her grief over Vision’s death leads her to torment the small Recent Jersey town of Westview.
After we last saw Wanda, within the finale’s post-credits scene, she’d just lost the versions of Vision and her twin sons she’d magically created, which led her to embrace her identity because the Scarlet Witch and start exploring the Darkhold, a book of spells that would allow her to reunite along with her now-nonexistent family.
In “Multiverse of Madness,” a distraught Wanda remains to be struggling to process the unique Vision’s death in “Avengers: Infinity War,” in addition to her try to escape it within the fantasy she created in “WandaVision.” In one in all the trailers, she is greeted by her sons of their Westview home, though Wanda’s voice-over identifies the apparently joyful reunion only as a recurring dream.
‘What If … ?’ (2021)
This nine-episode animated anthology series, which tells the stories of alternate versions of M.C.U. heroes in multiple realities, debuted with little fanfare in August, but Episode 4 provides some essential context for “Multiverse of Madness.” Titled “What If … Doctor Strange Lost His Heart As an alternative of His Hands?,” it introduces a variant of Dr. Strange, Strange Supreme, created after Strange lost his girlfriend, Christine, in a automotive crash and have become consumed by dark magic. After she vanishes in his arms, the evil Dr. Strange rips apart reality and is left alone to nurse his broken heart.
While it initially seemed, from his trailer appearance, as if the Strange Supreme variant can be a essential antagonist of “Multiverse of Madness,” Cumberbatch said in a recent interview that the character was not, the truth is, Strange Supreme but an excellent more menacing version: Sinister Strange.
Still there are other “What If … ?” variants who seem to look in “Multiverse of Madness,” including a live-action version of Captain Carter (voiced by Hayley Atwell in “What If … ?”), a Peggy Carter variant who received the super-soldier serum as an alternative of Steve Rogers and appeared in a trailer fighting a variant of the Scarlet Witch. Also returning: the terrifying Zombie Wanda and Zombie Dr. Strange from Episode 5 (“What If … Zombies?!”), which probably explains why “Multiverse of Madness” is being billed because the M.C.U.’s first horror film. Episodes 8 and 9 also show Ultron discovering multiple realities and looking for to beat them.
‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ (2021)
The director of “Multiverse of Madness,” Sam Raimi, has said that the brand new film is a direct continuation of the last Marvel Studios blockbuster, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” released in December. After we last saw Dr. Strange, he’d just caused everyone to forget the existence of Peter Parker to stop the multiverse from exploding. This was obligatory due to a botched spell Dr. Strange had forged that was designed to make everyone forget Peter was Spider-Man, which only ended up pulling Spider-Men and villains from alternate M.C.U. universes into the identical one. At the top of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” the spell appears to have worked, but it surely stays to be seen if or how the implications of Dr. Strange’s actions will play into “Multiverse of Madness.”
Bonus: ‘Loki’ (2021)
Will we see the hopelessly bureaucratic Time Variance Authority, a company that polices time travel to forestall branching timelines, show as much as bust a while travelers in “Multiverse of Madness”? The stand-alone “Loki” series, which takes place in an alternate M.C.U. timeline, also explains the thought of variants from different timelines (amongst them: Richard E. Grant’s Classic Loki and Alligator Loki).