If it wasn’t obvious by now, as of late the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been breaking apart, with —in many cases literal—cracks starting to show in the boundaries between realities. Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is fast approaching, and if the trailer Marvel has dropped for Super Bowl day tells us anything, it’s that very little is off the table in terms of what we can expect. Loki and No Way Home both heavily featured the multiverse—and this new trailer for Multiverse of Madness makes them look almost…tame by comparison (and makes the previous trailer for the film look almost tame as well.) There’s so much to unpack here that it’s hard to know where to even begin.
Firstly, this is shaping up to be an unapologetic, no holds barred cosmic horror film. The closest thing we’ve previously gotten to horror in the MCU is the almost Lynchian terror of WandaVision‘s first few episodes, but with Sam Raimi in the director’s chair—a guy who not only knows his horror but has experience with specifically putting horror into superhero movies—and seemingly given free rein to go absolutely hog-wild, many of the shots we see go for full-on terror in a way that we’ve never seen before in a Marvel film.
Strange’s face breaks apart into geometric shapes as he’s pulled through dimensions. A character being bound in front of a void by a massive, shrieking monstrosity. A one-eyed tentacle monster rampaging through New York. Wanda encounters a zombie version of herself at what looks to be her house in Westview. Smoke in the form of both humanoid monsters and giant walls of it that threaten to engulf entire cities, several shots of the world around Strange disintegrating—the start of the trailer tells us that Strange has been having nightmares, and the visuals that we get are straight-up nightmare fuel.
Secondly, this trailer—and the new poster that accompanied the trailer drop—are full of teases that suggest that Multiverse of Madness could be even wilder than previously thought. America Chavez and her reality hopping powers make an appearance, as well as the return of Baron Mordo—still on his mission to rid the world of sorcerers. One particularly juicy section comes at about a minute in: a handcuffed Strange gets led through some sort of citadel-looking building, where he’s put in front of a council that will seemingly decide his fate and an off-screen voice says that perhaps they should tell them the truth.
Now, on paper that might sound fairly mundane, but seeing it on screen led to two of the times in this trailer where I audibly said “holy sh*t.” First off, when Strange is getting led through the said citadel, his escort consists of none other than Ultron bots—or rather, the Iron Legion that Tony Stark had originally envisioned all the way back in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Then, while the voice saying that they should perhaps tell Strange the truth isn’t officially confirmed, it’s pretty hard to not know who it is: Patrick Stewart, a.k.a. Professor X from the X-Men movies. Now, it’s not known yet whether he’ll be playing Professor X, and we have had a couple of pump fakes regarding the arrival of mutants into the MCU, but one of the images on that new poster we got is an eye symbol frequently associated with Marvel’s Illuminati.
They’re a secret society/superhero group that consisted of Dr. Strange, Professor X, Black Bolt of the Inhumans, Namor of Atlantis, Black Panther, Mr. Fantastic, and Tony Stark—which would explain the Iron Legion bots. There’s certainly a strong possibility that we might be looking at seeing alternate reality versions of all of these characters, some of whom —most notably Mr. Fantastic—would be making their MCU debut.
And let’s not forget about Wanda, now fully in her role as the Scarlet Witch. The trailer contains the aforementioned disturbing shot of her encountering her zombie form, but it also hints at a full villain arc for her as well—she doesn’t think it’s fair that Strange is considered a hero for breaking the rules while she gets condemned for breaking them. We also get to see her in action against a flying, flaming individual—my first guess was that it might be the Human Torch, but after taking a closer look it’s more than likely it’s some version of either Captain Marvel or Monica Rambeau who’s squaring off against the Scarlet Witch.
There’s a bunch of smaller bits, both here and on the poster that accompanied the trailer drop: Rachel McAdams’ character on her wedding day, Wong warning Strange that he can’t control everything (which almost certainly comes right before Strange tries to do just that), an unknown character conjuring up smoke monsters in a way that feels like a dark mirror of Strange’s fight with Thanos in Infinity War, Strange looking at a statue of himself in front of what is likely the Sanctum from another reality, and on the poster, not only is there the eye symbol associated with the Marvel Illuminati, we can also see Captain Carter’s shield. There’s so much here that I’m almost scared to think about what Marvel isn’t showing us—in a way that makes me want to see it right now.
If Loki and No Way Home were the first signs of cracks forming in the boundaries of the MCU, Multiverse of Madness looks to not only be breaking that boundary but tossing us through and saying “off you go, hopefully there’s something to hang onto.” It’s the very definition of a “holy sh*t” trailer, and that’s certainly what I said more than once while watching it. Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness doesn’t hit theaters until May 6th, which is nowhere near soon enough after a bombshell trailer like this one. In the meantime…I guess I’ll finally have to get around to watching What If?