Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is looking like another box office win for Marvel Studios, what it accomplishes as the 5th film in Phase 4 is to continue planting the seeds for the potential next major crossover. Already eleven projects in, the path to Marvel Cinematic Universe’s take on the classic Secret Wars storyline seems like it’s being built, even if some feel we’re not ready quite yet.
That’s right, it’s beginning to look like the MCU is eleven projects into what might become known as the Secret Wars saga. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier gave us a new Captain America, a reformed Bucky, and introduced us to the US Agent. Black Widow gave us a new Black Widow and a still effective Red Guardian. WandaVision gave us White Vision and Photon, while simultaneously introducing us to witches, including the Scarlet Witch. What If…? showed us different Earths, with different Variants of the heroes and villains we’ve seen on Earth-616, including worlds where Thanos does not become a villain and where Captain Carter is the first Avenger. And then there’s Loki, which presented us with the rules of the multiverse, how the TVA had been pruning Variants across different universes, while introducing the maestro behind it all, He Who Remains.
He Who Remains, aka Nathaniel Richards, had spent considerable time and energy figuring out a way to defeat and/or trap multiversal Variants of himself, essentially wiping out their worlds. When Sylvie stabbed He Who Remains in the season final of Loki, she unleashed the multiverse. Indeed, we find out in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness that a Variant remaining in another universe for too long causes an Incursion. Knowing that, it is clear that Nathaniel Richards did save lives, even if the methods of his TVA were not the right ones. The restoration of the multiverse, the knowledge that Incursions destroy other universes and the revelation that at least one universe in the multiverse has a TVA that openly works for a version of Kang can be seen as evidence that Marvel is building towards Secret Wars.
With Incursions playing such a viral role in Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Wars run, and Marvel leaning a lot on Hickman’s work when they adapt these stories for the MCU, the mention of them by Earth-838’s Reed Richards is no coincidence. We now have one world (Earth-616) where a Variant (Gamora) is on the loose and no TVA to return her to her timeline. We know that, coming out of Avengers: Endgame, there were at least 5 different timelines. What If…? gave us the timelines mentioned above, which Kevin Feige confirmed are the consequences of Sylvie’s stabbing. In one of those universes, a Captain Carter exists. Could she be the same Captain Carter seen in Multiverse of Madness?
In her world, we see that it’s a world where the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Inhumans all exist. The Charles Xavier who arrives late to Strange’s trial greatly resembles the Professor X from the X-Men animated series. If we accept that the animated series is canon to Earth-838, then this means that on this Earth there are the remaining members of the Fantastic 4 and X-Men, Inhumans who have just had their King brutally murdered, and ateam of Avengers who also just had their leader murdered. Also of note, only Mordo survived to tell their Wanda was possessed by another Wanda: as such, they’re going to want consequences.
Hovering over all of this is every version of Kang. With Incursions caused by Variant sremaining in another universe for too long, and no TVA there to prune said Variant, then it is possible that Earth-838’s Kang (Immortus) will use the Baxter Foundation to further his desire to control the other universes. With a catalyst like Earth-616’s Doctor Strange off in the Dark Dimension, and the death of his own Variant, he may feel that Earth-616 is vulnerable and thus can be attacked. He’s got his army and all that’s left is war.