Marvel’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” hits theaters this Friday, May 6, and while Marvel movies are self-contained, it does help to know the history of the characters involved.
The second installment in the Doctor Strange story relates heavily to several Marvel movies and television shows, but don’t worry, there’s no need to re-watch all 27 Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films and 6 Marvel series before seeing it.
Here’s what you need to watch to get a good grasp of the story before seeing “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” and a few extras that will help fill out the details.
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015)
This is the first time Wanda Maximoff and her brother Pietro are introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Viewers learn how Wanda came into her powers, and how she first descends into grief from losing a loved one.
DOCTOR STRANGE (2016)
This is the first time Doctor Strange, along with Christine Palmer and Karl Mondo, are fully introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is integral in understanding how Stephen Strange came to be a master of the Mystic Arts, keeper of the presumed defunct Time Stone, and eventually Sorcerer Supreme.
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018) and AVENGERS: END GAME (2019)
The two films show viewers the ties between Wanda and Vision, and how she once again descends into grief from losing a loved one. Doctor Strange is heavily featured, as well as The Ancient One, who explains the multiverse timelines to Bruce Banner.
This nine-episode Disney+ series follows a distraught Wanda as she moves to Westview, New Jersey, to create a bubble reality within which she can live the impossible life of her dreams.
Fully embracing the mantle of the Scarlet Witch by the end, Wanda dives into the mysteries of the Darkhold, a sinister collection of spells that may lead her to reconnecting with her now nonexistent family.
If you don’t have time to watch the whole series, episodes 6-9 should give you a quick overview of where Wanda is at prior to the new movie.
SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME (2021)
When Peter Parker’s friends have been rejected from college because of their association with the webbed Super Hero, he goes to Doctor Strange to ask for a spell to make everyone forget he is Spider-Man. Of course, things don’t go as planned, and the spell ends up pulling Spider-Men and villains into the MCU from alternate universes.
It’s the last time we see Doctor Strange prior to the new movie, and his actions there will probably be affecting what happens in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
WHAT IF…? (2021)
This animated Disney+ series has characters or situations that will be referenced in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
These episodes are key:
- Episode 1, “What If… Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?,” introduces us to Captain Peggy Carter, the multiverse equivilent to Captain Steve Rogers.
- Episode 4, “What If…Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?,” follows Stephen in a reality where he loses his girlfriend, Christine, and his grief leads him down a path to becoming the evil Strange Supreme.
- Episode 5, “What If…Zombies?!,” features a terrifying zombified Wanda Maximoff who’s being fed and cared for by Vision.
- Episodes 8 and 9, “What If… Ultron Won?” and “What If… the Watcher Broke His Oath?,” sees the ramifications of Ultron succeeding in his mission to cleanse the Earth, discovering the existence of multiple realities, and seeking to conquer them all.
As far as I know, Loki is not a part of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” but this series is the first time we meet the Time Variance Authority, and the multiverse is heavily mentioned in it.
It also introduces the concepts of Variants, similar characters from different yet parallel worlds in the Multiverse.
SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE RING (2021)
This movie’s hidden Ta Lo is a pocket dimension that exists parallel to Earth, making it a part of the MCU’s multiverse. The film also features several appearances by Wong, Doctor Strange’s friend and mentor, and we learn more about him.
Get a quick 10 minute or less refresher on some of the key characters of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” in this Disney+ series.
- Episode 1 – Wanda Maximoff
- Episode 15 – Doctor Strange
- Episode 16 – Wong
- Episode 17 – Scarlet Witch
Most of these recommendations are available to watch on Disney+, with many of the films in the IMAX format if you prefer that. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the only exception, and it is available for rent or purchase online, as well as still showing in some theaters.
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” will be a wild ride even if you are fully prepared, but these films and series will help you understand more of the details of the film.
Be sure to check out all of our coverage of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” too.