Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is certainly living up to the “madness” of its title, and we haven’t even seen a second of footage yet.
Take, for example, Doctor Strange himself. In the midst of interviews for the new movie The Mauritanian, actor Benedict Cumberbatch is (quite amusingly) keeping himself off-screen from Zoom video calls. And why? Because of something mysterious surrounding the Doctor Strange sequel, which is due in theaters next year.
What Happened? — On March 26, Cumberbatch, who is still filming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as of this writing, participated in a virtual Zoom panel for The Mauritanian hosted by The Concordia Forum, an NGO (non-governmental organization).
Cumberbatch produced and stars in The Mauritanian as Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch, a real-life veteran, lawyer, and immigration judge who refused to prosecute a Mauritanian man on his alleged involvement with al Qaeda. The story was famously told by The Wall Street Journal in a 2007 piece titled “The Conscience of the Colonel.”
For the March 26 Concordia Forum panel, Cumberbatch appeared twice via pre-recorded videos where he answered questions about The Mauritanian. And both times, Cumberbatch held his phone towards the ceiling of his room or in a moving car to conceal his face.
“By the way,” Cumberbatch said at the end of one of his answers, “You’re looking at the ceiling because I can’t show you my face because I’m filming Doctor Strange and it’s all embargoed or whatever. Anyway, just to explain why you’re looking at a very attractive ceiling.”
In his second answer, Cumberbatch said: “You’re looking at the ceiling of a car because you can’t look at me because I’m playing Doctor Strange and looks I can’t reveal. Exciting.”
You can watch Cumberbatch’s appearance in the embed below, first at 27:59 and again at 41:45.
Strange Looks — What makes Cumberbatch’s efforts to hide his face a teeny bit weird is that Doctor Strange’s face is ... not a secret?
Cumberbatch has already appeared onscreen as the Sorcerer Supreme on a few occasions: the 2016 movie Doctor Strange and the final two Avengers movies, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. So, what’s so secretive about Doctor Strange now in Multiverse of Madness? Why the secrecy?
Even fans on Reddit are coming up empty on theories. Some believe it has something to do with Cumberbatch’s facial hair, who is now using his real facial hair for Multiverse of Madness instead of the glued-on goatee that was used before.
Others are throwing out speculation that Doctor Strange succumbs to possession akin to the acolytes of Dormammu from the 2016 film, where followers had bloody, messed up, veiny eye sockets.
Some think Strange might have more gray hair, which would make his look more accurate to the comics. (Strange has a little gray texture in Infinity War, but nothing to the level Strange normally has in the comic books.) And others are just goofing around. “He got dancing Tobey tattooed on his forehead,” joked one user.
Aside from the “gray hair” theory, there is nothing in the comics to give us real insight into a “new look” for Doctor Strange. His look in the comics has been the same for the better part of 60 years, since his first appearance in 1963. There has never been a notable disfiguration or change to Strange’s form, even for a one-off storyline.
So, again: Why the secrecy? What’s going on in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness that Benedict Cumberbatch can’t reveal?
The Inverse Analysis — It’s funny how Marvel actors go to great, and awkward, lengths to conceal secrets. Marvel actors make such frequent mention of “spoiler snipers” that it’s just a little bit scary.
This time, Cumberbatch avoids the red dots of snipers by turning his phone around to keep himself from revealing whatever mind-melting makeup or costume he’s wearing during downtime in filming Multiverse of Madness. While there is a lot of attention towards Spider-Man: No Way Home and how the multiverse will stage a crossover of various different Spider-Man characters, the real mystery is this: what does Benedict Cumberbatch look like?
See? Actual madness.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be released in theaters on March 25, 2022.