Every Variant In Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness
The latest adventure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes us on a wild, sprawling, chaotic journey through the multiverse itself. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse Of Madness is Sam Raimi’s triumphant return to directing Marvel films after his Spider-Man trilogy starring Tobey Maguire. True to Raimi’s vision, the Doctor Strange sequel is a Marvel experience unlike any we’ve seen in the franchise.
Following the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange finds himself dreaming of an alternate version of himself and a young girl. The girl is later revealed to be America Chavez, a frightened girl with the power to travel between universes. The fourth phase of the MCU has focused heavily on the multiverse with the Disney+ show Loki and the previous Spider-Man film, but Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness takes things up a notch. Hold onto something, because we’re diving headfirst into the multiverse and examining every variant in the movie.
Warning! Spoilers ahead!
Karl Mordo (Universe 838)
In the first Doctor Strange film, Stephen Strange wasn’t the only prominent magic user from Kamar-Taj. The Ancient One’s other student, Karl Mordo, befriended Strange and took him under his wing, but after finding out that the Ancient One drew power from the Dark Dimension, Mordo declared war against all magic users. When footage of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness showed actor Chiwetel Ejiofor returning as Mordo, many expected him to be a ruthless adversary as depicted in the first film’s after-credits scene. Instead, this Mordo is a variant from the universe 838.
Universe 838 is one of the main alternate universes that Strange and Chavez travel to for help against the Scarlet Witch. Upon reaching the Sanctum Santorum, the pair find a giant sculpture of Strange with a plaque that reads the hero died defeating Thanos. The doors open and Strange tenses up at the sight of Mordo; the last time he saw him, Mordo swore he’d kill him the next time they met. However, this Mordo stayed friends with Strange in this universe, though 616-Strange believes this Mordo was also jealous of 838-Strange and sabotaged him with the Darkhold.
Christine Palmer (Universe 838)
Stephen Strange’s love interest is back in more than one way. The film begins with Strange attending his former flame’s wedding, as Christine Palmer effectively moved on as Strange took on more responsibilities as an Avenger. Unfortunately, her reception is rudely interrupted by a destructive demon that’s hunting America Chavez in the city. While Palmer from universe 616 is only in the film briefly, her variant from universe 838 is a massive help for Strange in defeating Wanda Maximoff.
Unlike Palmer from Strange’s home universe, the 838-Palmer works as a scientific researcher for the Baxter Foundation. Mordo brings Strange and Chavez to the Illuminati’s facility, where Palmer explains their multiversal research before Wanda lays siege on the complex. After defeating Sinister Strange, Palmer guards 616-Strange’s body while he attempts to dream walk. Without 838-Pamer’s help, Strange wouldn’t have been able to save Chavez.
Black Bolt (Universe 838)
The silent, yet deadly Black Bolt might’ve been a surprise, considering how little attention the Inhumans have received since the negative reviews of the 2017 show. But Anson Mount returned to reprise his role, this time, as a prominent member of 838’s Illuminati. This secret organization are the true masterminds and puppet masters of the universe, pulling the strings from the background and dictating how everyone lives.
Although Black Bolt hasn’t been introduced in the prime 616 universe, his existence in 818 raises the speculation that he’s somewhere in the prime universe. Based on the recent changes to Ms. Marvel's power set and distancing her from her Inhuman origins, it’s possible Black Bolt’s appearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was simply a nod to the show. If we don’t see Black Bolt again soon, at least we’ll have a demonstration of his destructive power when he disintegrated 838-Strange into atoms.
Maria Rambeau (Universe 838)
In Captain Marvel, it was Carol Danvers who absorbed the power of the Tesseract. Well, in universe 838, it was her best friend and fellow pilot, Maria Rambeau. In the prime 616 universe, Rambeau lived a normal life, and unfortunately, passed away while her daughter, Monica Rambeau, was among the countless snapped away in the Blip. Here, Maria is this universe’s Captain Marvel with similar cosmic powers.
Maria’s powerful cosmic abilities, along with her intergalactic relations, make her a valuable member of 838’s Illuminati. If Maria is as powerful as 616-Captain Marvel, she’d be considered one of the strongest beings in the universe. Alas, even Maria was no match against Wanda’s sheer determination and fearsome brutality in her pursuit of America Chavez.
Captain Carter (Universe 838)
Peggy Carter’s had quite the MCU journey. First appearing in Captain America: The First Avenger, she was Steve Roger’s love interest who sadly lost the love of her life when he was frozen in the icy depths of the Arctic. But after defeating Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, Rogers broke the rules and stayed behind in 1949 to finally live a life with Carter.
Similar to the episode of What If on Disney+, 838-Carter is administered the super-soldier serum and not Rogers. She is known as Captain Carter and one of the founding members of this universe’s Avengers and Illuminati. There isn’t any mention of this universe’s Rogers, so it’s likely Carter lost her love too. Carter held her own against Wanda briefly, but the Scarlet Witch overcome the captain and bisected her with her own shield.
Charles Xavier (Universe 838)
It’s clear that no one Illuminati member has supreme authority over the others, but it’s safe to assume Charles Xavier is looked upon as a source of wisdom. The senior member of the Illuminati, Xavier is the leader of the X-Men, a group of individuals born with a mutation in their genes that grants them superpowers. It’s never said if the X-Men exist in universe 838, but Xavier’s existence (and theme song on his entrance) is more than enough for confirmation.
Unlike the other Illuminati members, it’s quite easy for Xavier to find the truth, as he does in Stephen Strange’s trial. The professor uses his telepathic powers to read people’s minds and discover their true intentions, as he does with Strange. Xavier concludes that 616-Strange won’t betray them as 838-Strange did. But just like the other Illuminati members, Xavier fell in battle trying to subdue Wanda.
Reed Richards (Universe 838)
In what was surely the film’s biggest surprise, Reed Richards officially made his MCU debut with none other than John Krasinski portraying the hero. Krasinski is one of the most famous fan-casted heroes in recent memory, so getting just a few minutes of him as the Marvel hero probably sent fans into a tizzy.
It’s not specifically revealed, but it’s a good guess that Richards created the Ultron-looking bots that brought Doctor Strange before the Illuminati for trial. Because of his Fantastic Four costume (and him telling Wanda that he has a wife and children), Sue and Johnny Storm, Ben Grimm, Franklin, and Valeria, all exist too. Marvel Studios made a point to use either past or current actors for these variants, so it’s easy to speculate whether Krasinski will portray Mister Fantastic in the prime MCU universe.
Thanos (Universe 838)
Although there are countless universes within the multiverse, many of them run parallel with the MCU prime universe, including universe 838. Similar to the prime universe, Thanos was seeking the Infinity Stones, though his motive wasn’t revealed. He either could’ve still been hellbent on creating balance in the universe, maybe appeasing Death like the comics, or just wanted the power of a god.
Instead of surrendering the Time Stone and allowing Thanos to snap half of all beings away, 818-Strange sought the Darkhold, a book full of extremely powerful dark magic. Against the advice of the Illuminati, 818-Strange absorbed the contents of the Darkhold and defeated Thanos on his home planet of Titan before he was able to gather most of the stones. At least 616-Thanos was able to claim victory, even momentarily; 838-Thanos failed his ultimate mission.
Billy And Tommy (Universe 838)
Wanda Maximoff’s motive behind wanting to absorb America Chavez’s powers to traverse the multiverse is to see her children, Billy and Tommy. At the end of WandaVision, the Scarlet Witch realizes her children were just strong figments of her own imagination and an extension of her powers. But after studying the Darkhold and learning more about the multiverse, she begins to have dreams of her children in other universes.
Universe 838 is one of the places where Billy and Tommy are real. It’s unclear who their father is, but when 616-Wanda dream walks into 838-Wanda’s body, she finds her two real boys in the living room, bickering in front of the television. When 616-Wanda has Chavez in her clutches, Chavez makes one desperate play to open a portal to 838 and expose her cruelty and ruthlessness to her boys. Seeing how frightened her boys are of her, despite them being from another universe, Wanda destroys the Darkhold, and seemingly, herself.
Wanda Maximoff (Universe 838)
Surprisingly, the big villain and the one trying to steal America Chavez’s powers is Wanda Maximoff. Since the events of WandaVision, Wanda is in a dark place; she’s still recovering from the loss of her husband, Vision, the realization that her children were never real in the first place, and her sudden power-up as the Scarlet Witch. On top of that, she’s studying the Darkhold, which is corrupting her thoughts.
Wanda’s pursuit of Chavez involves her dream walking into a variant of herself in universe 838. In this universe, Wanda has two real children in Billy and Tommy, but her ultimate prize is absorbing Chavez’s multiversal-jumping powers. Based on the Illuminati’s nonchalant attitude toward 838-Wanda’s assault on their facility, it’s believed that her powers aren’t as strong as 616-Wanda. It’s unclear what happens to 838-Wanda after she murdered the Illuminati; even though she was possessed by 616-Wanda, we’d imagine there would still be some consequences for killing five people.
In the film’s opening scene, we’re already shown our first variant in Defender Strange. This version of Stephen Strange is seen jumping across floating objects with America Chavez, as they’re chased by a demon. The pair are trying to reach the Book of Vishanti, essentially the polar opposite of the Darkhold, but the demon wounds Strange. Seeing that Chavez and Strange might be doomed, Strange tries to absorb Chavez’s powers himself, knowing that it would kill the girl.
Luckily for Chavez, the demon impales Strange and seemingly kills the Sorcerer Supreme. Before the demon can imprison Chavez, Strange uses one last bit of magic to allow Chavez to open a portal and escape. Defender Strange’s corpse travels with Chavez to the prime MCU universe. 616-Strange and Wong bury the body on a rooftop, but Strange later uses the corpse to dream walk while he’s trapped with 838-Palmer in Sinister Strange’s universe. While it's not confirmed which universe Defender Strange resides in, there is an +.
A minor villain in the film, Sinister Strange represents everything evil about prime Stephen Strange. The two Stranges lived similar lives, grew up as surgeons, were victims of a horrendous car accident that mutilated their hands, and sought acceptance into Kamar-Taj. However, unlike 616-Strange, Sinister Strange fell victim to the Darkhold and the corrupted book of dark magic poisoned his mind.
The universe that which Sinister Strange resides seems to be in the middle of an incursion. An incursion is the colliding of two universes that results in one or both universes’ destruction. The Illuminati claim that 838-Strange was responsible for incursions in their universe by using the Darkhold and the same is true of Sinister Strange. By using the Darkhold and the magics contained within to be with Christine Palmer, Strange fiddled with the delicate barriers of the multiverse and invoked an incursion on his universe.
Stephen Strange (Universe 838)
While most characters in the film have just one variant, we encounter three different variants of Stephen Strange. After 616-Doctor Strange and America Chavez arrive in universe 838 and find the Sanctum Santorum, they discover that this universe’s Doctor Strange perished in battle defeating Thanos. However, it’s revealed by the Illuminati that Strange survived the battle against Thanos and was executed by the group.
How was 838-Strange able to defeat Thanos, but 616-Strange surrendered the Time Stone and half of life in the universe was snapped from existence? Well, 838-Strange decided to use the Darkhold, an extremely powerful, yet dangerous magical book. The book is full of dark magic and corrupts the user, leading to far more problems than solutions. The Illuminati advised Strange against using the book to stop Thanos, but Strange didn’t listen. While Strange was able to defeat Thanos on Titan, his usage of the Darkhold created an incursion that destroyed two universes. Distraught by his role in the cause of billions upon billions of lives lost, Strange surrendered himself to the Illuminati, who voted to execute the sorcerer. This result might’ve been one of the 14,600,005 outcomes 616-Strange envisioned in Avengers: Infinity War, and smartly, decided against pursuing.
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