Marvel Studios has certainly tried to keep major secrets in its last two films. In Spider-Man: No Way Home, for example, the appearances of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield were rather unsuccessfully guarded. At the time, that film seemed like the secretive film of Phase Four. However, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness blew the Spider-Man film out of the water in terms of the extent and fervor over rumored cameos and plotlines in the film. Back in July, we wrote an article about some of the many rumors at the time. Now that the sequel is out, it is time to start talking about where all those rumors went wrong. This article is a comprehensive list of all of the major rumors and “leaked” cameos that turned out to be untrue.
What Made It In
If you are reading this, you have probably seen the movie, so it won’t take long to recap what did in fact happen. First, let’s take a moment to recognize those rumored characters that made it to the big screen. Of course, most of the Illuminati was ultimately teased in promos before the film was released, but Hayley Atwell’s Captain Carter, Lashana Lynch’s Captain Marvel, Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier, John Krasinski’s Reed Richards, and Anson Mount’s Black Bolt joined Chiwetel Ejiofor’s variant Baron Mordo as the now mostly violently-deceased organization.
While Multiverse of Madness did not try too hard to keep it a secret, we now know with certainty that Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch was the primary antagonist of the film. Benedict Cumberbatch did play a variant Sinister Strange, but he certainly was not a principal threat in the film. Similarly, Gargantos, the Shuma-Gorath adjacent creature did not play a real villainous role.
Some rumors suggested that Wanda Maximoff would end up the victor of the film, much like Thanos. Others said that she would somehow pull a “reverse” version of one of her most iconic moments in the comics—”No more mutants”. If the Scarlet Witch sticks around the MCU long enough, that is certainly something Marvel Studios may want to eventually adapt. But, she certainly did no form of this in the movie, let alone create mutants in the MCU. While Wanda seemingly sacrificed herself at the end of the movie in an attempt to destroy the Darkhold forever, she certainly did not “win” by commonsense standards, though she easily could have had she not seen the error of her own ways.
Charlize Theron as Clea in the mid-credits scene was arguably the biggest surprise for fans and one example of a cameo rumor that actually turned out to be true. However, some rumors pointed to the character playing a much more significant role in the film. Ultimately, Clea was left as a tease for future stories.
Bruce Campbell garnered much speculation about a cameo given his many comments about the film, his appearance near a shooting location, and his history with director Sam Raimi. Campbell did in fact make what was essentially a goofy cameo during the movie and appeared again to finish the joke in the final post-credits scene.
The Cameos That Weren’t
Let’s be honest. Fan expectations for cameos were through the roof. Given that the Doctor Strange sequel had the capacity to encounter infinite variants, it was not too hard to imagine that we would get some high-profile ones. Still, the number of rumors and “leaks” gave many fans ultimately unrealistic expectations on this front. Let’s take a look.
One of the most popular and believable rumors sadly did not pan out. While the multiverse could have seen a classic funny guy cameo moment from Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool, it was not meant to be.
A Tom Hiddleston cameo as Loki from the Loki series was practically expected at one point. Considering the strong ties between the Disney+ series and Multiverse of Madness, we did not encounter the character this time around.
Balder the Brave
Amongst all of the Illuminati speculation, one character that found his way into countless credible lists was Balder the Brave. Half-brother and friend of Thor, this would have introduced a relatively unknown character into the star-studded group. Whether that was the reason he ultimately did not appear is unclear, but perhaps viewers can look out for Balder the Brave in future projects, especially with Thor: Love and Thunder just around the corner.
Doctor Strange Supreme
The relationship between the Doctor Strange What If… ? episode and Multiverse of Madness was ultimately just one of inspiration. We knew that darker Doctor Strange variants would appear in the film, and Doctor Strange Supreme from the animated series was quite the fan favorite. The Strange variants in the film may have had some similarities with the animated fellow, but he definitely was not present.
After her major role in WandaVision, there were hints that perhaps Teyonah Parris‘ Rambeau would return here. Instead, we got a variant of her mother, Maria Rambeau, who became Captain Marvel in the Illuminati’s universe.
Much of the Multiverse of Madness delirium came from fans’ eagerness to see X-Men and other previous Fox Marvel properties debut in the MCU. Obviously, Professor X’s introduction did just that, but all the rumors that Wolverine would appear turned out not to materialize. It is worth noting, though, that most of these rumors speculated that the iconic X-Men character would not be played by the iconic Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman and instead a new actor would fill those shoes.
Weirdly enough, though, the rumors that a non-Jackman Wolverine would be making an appearance did not stop rumors that Jackman would make a cameo as something or someone else. He did not.
We know that Namor is set to play the adversary in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but there was plenty of speculation as to whether Tenoch Huerta’s Namor—or a variant—would make an early appearance in the Doctor Strange sequel. The Shuma-Gorath creature named Gargantos in the film, and that monster has connections to Namor in the comics. The Sub-Mariner is also a member of the Illuminati in the comics, so it made some sense. Alas, we will likely have to wait for Wakanda Forever to meet the character.
Maybe one of the more disappointing omissions—whether it was credible or not—was Michael Fassbender’s Magneto. As noted, Charles Xavier sort of took on the Fox-Marvel and X-Men representation in Multiverse of Madness. The beloved antihero and villain will someday arrive in the MCU, but that day has not come.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Fans of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ABC television series are always hoping for confirmation or signs that the show is canon to the MCU or will be relevant going forward. Fan favorite Chloe Bennet’s Daisy Johnson in particular had some rumors behind her, but there was ultimately nothing to them.
Had the Doctor Strange sequel been released—as originally planned—after Spider-Man: No Way Home, the rumor that Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man would cameo in the film would have been much less believable. But considering he made the journey from his Sony property to the MCU in the Spider-Man film, it seemed more possible. But, as we all know now, it did not happen here.
Nicholas Cage returning as Ghost Rider? Sure, why not. But Multiverse of Madness was not the “Look we have rights to all these characters we did not before!” moment many were expecting it to be.
There were some hints in the trailers that including Ultron bots that led fans to think an Iron Man variant would show up. Tom Cruise ended up being the most talked about rumored casting for that ultimately non-existent variant, but some were thoroughly convinced Cruise would make his MCU debut.
While we got Charlie Cox’s Daredevil in No Way Home, another rumor in the same vein as the other speculated Fox characters cameos was that Ben Affleck would reprise his role as the Man Without Fear from his less-than-beloved 2003 film.
Expectations that Kathryn Hahn’s Agatha Harkness could make some sort of appearance were pretty fair. The end of WandaVision and comics suggest that the older witch will still have a role to play in Wanda’s life. Still, Wanda ambiguously exited the events of Multiverse of Madness without ever seeking out Harkness or Harkness working her way out of where we left her in Westview.
Kang the Conquerer
After Jonathan Majors’ unexpected appearance at the end of Loki, fans are certainly on edge to see where he may pop up before his villainous role as Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. The character’s connection to the multiverse, as described in the Loki finale, could have in theory made a cameo from Kang make sense. But alas, he was not there.
HYDRA Captain America
A famous comics rendition of Captain America is the more recent HYDRA Cap. If it was not obvious, this was a version of Captain America aligned with HYDRA. After Chris Evans’ nod to it in Endgame, it honestly could have been a fun appearance. While Evans seems game to pop up in cameos everywhere in the entertainment industry, this is one where he was absent.
Based on some of the trailers and other rumors, more zombies were expected by some. Whether the What If… Zombies!? episode was to be a direct tie in or it was an unrelated zombie universe, it seemed like a strong bet. We did not get zombies, but Doctor Strange inhabiting the body of the dead Defender Strange did provide some zombie vibes.
Considering how important Vision is to Wanda’s story combined with the fact that White Vision—introduced in WandaVision—is very much still out there, the idea of a Paul Bettany Vision cameo was not out of left field. The actor even dropped some teases that he might be in Multiverse of Madness. He was not.
Overall, had many of these cameos actually happened, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness could have been a much different film. Because of the extent of these rumors, some fans expected a movie where Doctor Strange bounced around countless universes and encountered major character cameos in each. Instead, we got a story focused more tightly on Doctor Strange with the Scarlet Witch as his strong adversary. In other words, the film ended up being a great story not weighed down by empty fan service. Even the Illuminati members that did make an appearance were more than just glorified cameos and significantly contributed to the story as well.
All of these non-cameos, or some version of them, may likely show up in the MCU eventually. They just were not in this movie. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now playing in theaters.