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What If? Episode 1 may confirm a wild Doctor Strange 2 rumor

One Doctor Strange 2 rumor looks a whole lot more likely now.

What If…? premiered its long-awaited first episode on Disney+ this week, marking the start of Marvel’s grand new exploration into its on-screen multiverse.

To that end, the series’ first episode took viewers to a reality where Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) became the world’s first Super-Soldier instead of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, the episode made a strong case for the superpowered version of Peggy — formally known as Captain Carter — to become a recurring character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the coming years.

What If...? even set up the possibility of the character showing up in one of Marvel’s most-anticipated upcoming titles: next year’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Captain Carter’s Sacrifice — What If…?’s first episode largely follows the same basic structure and plot beats of 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. However, the episode diverges from that MCU film in some major ways during its final act, which sees Captain Carter taking on a tentacled, extra-dimensional being summoned by the Red Skull (Ross Marquand).

In a moment that mirrors Steve’s sacrifice from The First Avenger, the episode concludes with Peggy throwing herself and the creature through an extra-dimensional portal — saving the world but disappearing somewhere in the multiverse at the same time. While the episode ends with Peggy being brought back to her original reality 70 years later by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), it doesn’t reveal anything about what Peggy spent those decades doing — or where the portal sent her.

Fortunately, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness could very well answer both of those questions.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange in 2016’s Doctor Strange.

Marvel Studios

A Chance Encounter — Just a few weeks ago, an interesting rumor began circulating online that said Hayley Atwell will reprise her role as Captain Carter in live-action form during Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The rumor, while unsubstantiated, quickly caught the attention of Marvel fans. Now, What If…? Episode 1 has laid the groundwork for such an appearance.

How? Well, not only is Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness set to deal heavily with the fallout of the multiversal fracturing seen in Loki Season 1, but fans also expect that it’ll travel through multiple different realities and timelines. That means some of the alternate timelines showcased in What If…? could be referenced in the film, including the one in which Peggy becomes Captain Carter.

It’d make sense for Strange to come across the character during his multiversal travels in the upcoming film, and not only because Multiverse of Madness is rumored to feature Shuma-Gorath, a cosmic, tentacled villain from the comics not that different from the monster at the end of What If…? Episode 1. A variant of Strange is also, notably, set to cross paths with Captain Carter in a future episode of What If…?, which means Marvel is already planning on establishing some kind of connection between the two characters.

In other words, the Doctor Strange sequel could reveal where Captain Carter ended up after forcing her way through the portal in What If...? — as well as what she did once she got there.

The name’s Captain Carter.

Marvel Studios

The Inverse Analysis — While there’s a chance that Marvel will keep Captain Carter’s presence in the MCU limited to What If…?, it seems just as likely that the studio won’t do that. In fact, recent comments from the What If…? creative team have suggested that not only will Captain Carter be a recurring character in the series, but also that characters introduced in the show could also appear in some of Marvel’s live-action films and shows.

And few of the show’s characters seem more primed to cross over than Captain Carter.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be released in theaters on March 25, 2022.

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