On Saturday, it was announced by Marvel Studios that the next installment of the Doctor Strange franchise would be titled Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness, which indicates their commitment to expanding upon the real Multiverse through the lens of Doctor Strange. Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch will be paired up with Benedict Cumberbatch’s Strange, no word if Benedict Wong’s Wong will be back but there is an expectation that will be announced down the line.
Director and co-writer Scott Derrickson seemingly opened the door during the presentation for more of the horror elements of the comics, something that was certainly missing in the last film from a fan perspective.
DERRICKSON: “What excites me about Doctor Strange is what made him great in the comics, he doesn’t fight villains from Earth or even this universe. But from the Multiverse and other dimensions. So, you get into all sorts of psychedelic weirdness, which this movie is going to.”
“But, when I came and talked to Kevin about doing a sequel I said ‘I just don’t want to do another sequel to do a sequel, if I’m going to do it, it has to go into territory that drew me into the Doctor Strange comics in the first place.’. Which is how they dipped into the gothic, the horror, and the horrific.”
“And we’re going to make the first scary MCU film.”
This horror angle was actually mentioned by Kevin Feige when stating that Doctor Strange’s supernatural elements were directly a reason why they can now pursue a Blade movie starring Mahershala Ali.
So, I’m expecting a rather larger/weirder horror influenced threat in this movie, and one I think it could go beyond even Nightmare, who has been teased for the sequel for ages now.
SHUMA-GORATH IS A TRUE MULTIVERSE THREAT
While Nightmare could certainly play a role in the film, I don’t really think of him as this huge Multiverse treat that the film’s title would suggest along with the inclusion of Scarlet Witch, who is becoming one of the most powerful characters in the MCU.
Ruler of hundreds of dimensions, Shuma-Gorath came to the Earth-Realm million years ago along with the other Old Ones, ruling the Earth and feasting on the ape-men.
Nightmare has his own realm, but a character like Shuma-Gorath is a genuine Mutlvierse villain as he rules over hundreds of dimensions, not just one. The villain also has more of a deeply rooted literary horror origin than I think fans realize.
THE TITLE SEEMS TO BE A HOMAGE TO H.P. LOVECRAFT
The sequel’s title In The Multiverse of Madness is an obvious nod to H.P. Lovecraft’s iconic horror story At The Mountains of Madness. Also, possibly John Carpenter’s At The Mouth of Madness, which was an homage of sorts too sort of blending the worlds of Lovecraft and Stephen King.
There is a character in Marvel Comics that I think a lot of people would connect to being inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft, that being The Lord of Chaos, Shuma-Gorath.
Shuma-Gorath seemingly has more in common with H.P. Lovecraft interdimensional characters such as Cthulu and has a stronger/extensive multiverse presence than Nightmare does, who comes off more like a minion than a massive threat such as Dormmau or Shuma-Gorath.
I’m also in the belief that Doctor Strange has a huge Multiverse of creatures that would be considered threats to the fabric of space and time, why would they all look like humanoids? Having a weird-looking villain would change up the normal formula we’ve seen in the MCU and they have the freedom to go a little weirder given the horror elements it sounds like they want to pursue in the movie.
Shuma-Gorath could also have elements of John Carpenter’s The Thing as well, being able to respawn and shapeshift to various different bizarre alien creatures could also be interesting on screen.
THIS ANCIENT THREAT COULD LINK TO ATLANTIS, NAMOR, AND ETERNALS
Remember when director Scott Derrickson posted and then deleted that image of Doctor Strange and Namor?
The Lord of Chaos angle could tie Shuma-Gorath as an ancient threat that has touched upon other groups in the MCU, mainly, the immortals known as Eternals and possibly even Atlanteans. It would certainly give Scott Derrickson an excuse to introduce Atlantis and even Namor, as the character also has ties to Robert E. Howard’s Krull of Atlantis.
To a point, he was worshiped as a god by ancient societies, maybe even the Deviants on Earth.
It was also revealed by Elizabeth Olsen that her Disney+ series WandaVision would directly lead into the events of the Doctor Strange sequel.
Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness is expected to begin shooting in the first/second quarter of 2020 with a release date of May 7th, 2021.