It seems like the record-breaking Spider-Man: No Way Home came out just yesterday, and yet here we are talking about the next movie set to release in theaters on May 6: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. And, if the latest trailer that released during the Super Bowl is any indication of what we can expect for the sequel, we are in for a wild ride.
There is a lot to unpack in this trailer, and as is the case with any MCU film, many things have been rumored and leaked during production of the film. While the MCU has been building towards a massive multiversal war throughout their phase four of releases, it looks like this movie is the one that will really lean into the concept of variants and characters from different studios, celebrating the history of Marvel on film.
All of these storylines converging in one movie might be easy enough to track for true die-hard fans of the MCU, but for those of you who aren’t as well-versed in the stories that have happened before, we put together a list of movies and shows that are required viewing before watching the Sorcerer Supreme’s second film. For bonus points, we’ve also included Suggested Viewing and Extra-Credit Viewing sections below, if you really want to get the full background of the MCU up to this point.
Doctor Strange – Benedict Cumberbatch’s first outing as Dr. Stephen Strange is a must see before his second solo outing. It is here that we are introduced to not only the title character, but the supporting cast of Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), Wong (Benedict Wong), and Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) as well.
Spider-Man: No Way Home – The most recent MCU film is also the most recent time we’ve seen the good doctor. It’s in this movie where (spoilers) the cracks in the multiverse really start to show and we see characters from non-MCU films crossover into the MCU proper.
What If…? – Marvel’s first foray into animation, this anthology series tells the stories of alternate universes that differ from the MCU stories we know and love by one specific choice or action. If the trailer above is any indication as to what we can expect in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it looks like What If…? might be more important to the MCU than we initially thought. You can watch the entire series, if you want, but the following episodes are required viewing:
- What if Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands? (Episode 4) – In this tragic episode, Doctor Strange does everything he can to save Christine Palmer from death, including absorbing the powers of ancient demons and becoming an evil version of himself, completely destroying his universe in the process. We’ve seen this version of Strange in both trailers for the film, so we know he will play a part in Multiverse of Madness.
- What if Zombies?! (Episode 5) – This episode sees a zombie plague from the Quantum Realm take over the earth with only a few of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes surviving the outbreak. The most recent trailer showed us zombie versions of Doctor Strange and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen), who both debuted during this episode.
- What if the Watcher Broke His Oath? (Episode 9) – The season finale saw the Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) break his oath to not intervene in the actions of the multiverse and band together the Guardians of the Multiverse made up of alternate versions of heroes we have come to know and love in the MCU. This episode sees the evil version of Doctor Strange break out of his pocket dimension to defeat an all-powerful Ultron, as well as Ultron’s version of the Iron Legion, which can be seen escorting a handcuffed Doctor Strange in the trailer above.
WandaVision – Marvel’s first television show on Disney+ was an exploration on grief and how one of the most powerful beings in the universe processes immense loss. We know that Wanda will be reprising her role as the Scarlet Witch in Multiverse of Madness, and we even see glimpses of her Westview home she shared with Vision in the latest trailer.
Loki – The trickster god got his own TV show, which followed the version of the character from Avengers: Endgame that got away during the botched time heist sequence that took place in 2012. The series sees Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in the captivity of the Time Variance Authority as they track down a more powerful variant of Loki who is causing mayhem and threatening the very fabric of the multiverse. At the end of the first season, we are introduced to a variant of Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) who oversees the Sacred Timeline and witness Loki and his female variant Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) destroy that timeline, creating the multiverse as we currently know it.
Suggested Viewing: Though you don’t have to watch these movies and shows to know what is going on in Multiverse of Madness, if you have the time, it wouldn’t hurt to check them out.
What if Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? (Episode 1) – This episode sees Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) becoming Captain Carter after taking the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers. Based on rumors of her live-action appearance in this film as well as a glimpse of her shield in the movie’s latest poster, Captain Carter seems like a sure bet for an appearance this summer. Plus, this is the first time we see Shuma Gorath, the tentacled one-eyed monster that was shown in the latest trailer shown above.
Spider-Man: Far From Home – though this has nothing to do with Doctor Strange or Wanda, the events of Spider-Man’s second solo outing directly lead into the events of the recent No Way Home, showing why Spider-Man is on the run and why he turns to Doctor Strange for help with his not-so-secret identity.
Avengers: Infinity War – If you want to see Doctor Strange’s MCU appearances in full before watching his next film, he plays a major role in Infinity War. Additionally, we see more of Wanda and Vision’s romance blossoming and witness the death (or one of the deaths) of Vision at the hands of Thanos.
Avengers: Endgame – Necessary to understand what is going on? Nope. But I’ll jump at any excuse to watch this movie again. Plus, several characters from Multiverse of Madness continue their stories here.
Extra-Credit Viewing – Only for the true completionists out there.
Fox X-Men films – during one of the most jaw-dropping moments in a trailer full of jaw-dropping moments, we hear the unmistakable sultry voice of Patrick Stewart and glimpse his bald head. It has long been rumored that mutants would be making their way to the MCU after the merger between Disney and Fox, and now it looks like we are finally seeing it happen. Therefore, if you want to catch up on Professor X’s story so far, you could watch the following films:
- X2: X-Men United
- X3: The Last Stand
- X-Men: First Class
- X-Men: Days of Future Past
- Note: it looks like Charles Xavier is wearing the same outfit he is wearing in the future portions of this movie, so it could be we are being introduced to this version of the character from a future that the X-Men don’t end up saving. Just a theory.
- X-Men: Apocalpyse
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine
- The Wolverine
- Note: If you only watch one X-Men film, this is the one to watch.
Deadpool/Deadpool 2 – we’ve known that Ryan Reynolds’ Merc with a Mouth was coming to the MCU for a while, with Kevin Feige confirming that Deadpool 3 would be an MCU film. However, it looks like we might be getting Deadpool a bit sooner, as eagle-eyed fans have spotted a reflection that looks an awful lot like the character in the latest poster for Multiverse of Madness.
Fantastic Four films – In the scene in the trailer above that we first hear Professor X, we see Doctor Strange standing before a group of people as if he is being interrogated. It is rumored that this is the Illuminati, a group from the comics that have been tasked to watch over the earth. Could they be reimagining the group to watch over the multiverse in the film? Potentially, as it looks like Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, who is a founding member in the comics, seems to be sitting in one of the chairs in the background. Though it is unclear if this is a previously seen actor or a new one, the previous films of Marvel’s First Family might be worth a watch:
- Fantastic Four
- Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
- Fantastic Four
Sony’s Spider-Man films – if you are already watching No Way Home and want to see web-head’s adventures that lead up to that film, you are in luck: most of his previous outings are entertaining:
- Spider-Man 2
- Spider-Man 3
- The Amazing Spider-Man
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
Hawkeye – though Marvel’s latest outing on Disney+ doesn’t revolve around multiversal shenanigans, we do get a glimpse as to how Marvel might be using non-MCU characters and the actors that portrayed them with Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk. Plus, the show rocks so you should just watch it anyway.
Agent Carter – Before Disney+ was a thing and the shows were much more tied into the movies, Marvel Television branched out into shows on ABC. There were two seasons that explored Peggy Carter’s life after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger and the show rocked. It started with the one-shot Agent Carter, which you can watch on Disney+. Considering she is likely to reprise her role of Captain Carter in live-action, it might be nice to catch up on her story so far.
Thor franchise films – We know Loki will be back in Multiverse of Madness, especially considering his role in shattering the Sacred Timeline in his television show. If you want to catch up on his story so far, check out the following films:
- Thor: The Dark World
- Thor: Ragnarok
Avengers: Age of Ultron – Judging by the trailer, it looks like a version of Ultron will be making a comeback in this film. Witness his creation in the second Avengers team-up event.
Captain America: Civil War – Not only our first time with the MCU version of Spider-Man, this movie also explores more of Wanda’s story and her relationship with Vision.
There you have it. Is there anything we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below! And stay tuned to Boss Rush for everything Marvel, movies and videogames!
Mark Pereira is a senior writer for Boss Rush Network. He loves all video games, but his top three favorites are Skyward Sword, Super Mario 3D World and Batman: Arkham Asylum. You can find him on Twitter where he’s usually talking about Nintendo, video games, movies, and TV shows.
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4 thoughts on “What to Watch Before Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”
You know, that’s quite a bit of stuff to watch if you are unfamiliar with the series. Conversely, if you are a newcommer, the mcu may be a bit much to get into since you need to see a lot to understand everything that’s going on pretty much (with a few exceptions). Personally, I don’t think the new Dr. Strange is really a film for first-timers
You are 100% right. I do have a lot of friends who have wanted to get into big, bingeable series during the pandemic, though, and for those people, I made this list.