Strange Rumors

With Doctor Strange 2, Marvel is declaring war on fan theories

Can we believe anything anymore?

Marvel’s big Superbowl release arrived before kickoff: a first look at the trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the highly anticipated sequel directed by Sam Raimi. There was one huge reveal in the trailer, a booming voice from someone who looked and sounded an awful lot like Charles Xavier. It was immediately accepted that he — and a mainstay of the comics, the Illuminati — would appear in the new film, but a recent interview frustratingly casts doubts on this speculation.

For Marvel fans, Professor X’s appearance in the Doctor Strange 2 didn’t need to be confirmed. It was already pretty obvious, and fans long anticipated a Marvel Cinematic Universe and X-Men crossover, especially in the wake of MCU projects like Loki and Spider-Man: No Way Home establishing the multiverse.

But in an interview with Empire, Multiverse of Madness producer Richie Palmer shrouded the reveal in mystery, suggesting even if it’s a Charles Xavier, it may not be the Charles Xavier. “There are infinite versions of these characters, and just because you may have heard something familiar doesn’t mean it’s someone you have seen before,” Palmer said.

Doctor Strange and the “mystery voice” in the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer. Marvel

What does this mean for Marvel fans? Well, thanks to the multiverse, it’s clear we’re not going to get a straightforward confirmation of any fan theories before the release of a new film or TV show. Two things will either happen:

  1. The multiverse will be used as a one-size-fits-all explanation for a character appearing as a variant,
  2. Or those involved will just straight-up lie as Andrew Garfield did and Patrick Stewart was accused of doing before seemingly fessing up in an interview.

This poses an interesting dilemma. At what point does Marvel meddling with fan speculation cross the line from “preserving the surprise at all costs” to “ruining the fun of mystery box movies”? If a fan correctly predicts a plot twist, they should get the credit for it instead of being blatantly told they’re wrong — only to be proven right in the end.

Dr. Strange also appeared in Spider-Man: No Way Home, another Marvel release surrounded with misinformation.

With the Marvel Cinematic Universe open to parallel dimensions now, anything can happen — and anything could be an excuse for why something didn’t happen. With Doctor Strange 2 slated to include all sorts of huge reveals, the “because multiverse” explanation will be in effect more than ever before.

Hopefully, those in power understand the balance between fans and franchises and preserve that very delicate trust. Theorizing is a major part of the MCU fandom. But when the movie’s and show’s creators and talent spin fans in circles during press tours with purposeful misdirections and lies, it sucks the fun all out of the waiting game.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness premieres in theaters on May 6, 2022.