So, you are excited for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The sure-to-be memorable film is coming up quickly, and anyone who wants to prepare for it should probably start thinking about it soon. While most sequels only rely on the first film in terms of backstory, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s 28th movie is a bit more complicated than that. This article is a comprehensive list of every movie or series you should — or might — want to watch in preparation for Multiverse of Madness. Because of the nature of this movie, the list has a four-tiered system. First, there are projects that are essential to watch before the Doctor Strange sequel. Second, there are projects that we would strongly encourage you to watch but likely are not strictly necessary. Third, there are extra stories that will no doubt heighten your Multiverse of Madness experience but may ultimately have very little impact on the film. Fourth, we list some of the Marvel properties relevant to the most rampant unconfirmed cameo/character appearance rumors.
The six projects — listed in order of importance — you should absolutely watch or rewatch before Multiverse of Madness are Doctor Strange, WandaVision, Spider-Man: No Way Home, the final episode of Loki, What If… ? Episode 4, and Avengers: Infinity War.
1. Doctor Strange
It should need little to no explanation why Doctor Strange is essential viewing for its sequel.
WandaVision marked the first time Wanda Maximoff truly got the spotlight. Not only did it expand upon and reveal the origins of her powers, but it also spent its 9-episode run on Disney+ giving her one of the most in-depth character development arcs of the MCU. Of course, WandaVision also debuted Wanda’s Scarlet Witch persona, and the end of the series revealed her connections to the Darkhold. Considering all of that plus the fact that Doctor Strange himself was originally meant to make a cameo, it is safe to say the events of WandaVision lead directly to Multiverse of Madness.
3. Spider-Man: No Way Home
No Way Home has the most recent appearance of Doctor Strange in the MCU, and it also showcased the first major live-action multiverse storyline. The disruption of the multiverse was caused by the spell that Doctor Strange cast, so it is more than likely his activities in No Way Home will at least be a starting point in Multiverse of Madness.
4. Loki Episode 6
The finale of the Disney+ series Loki was notable and memorable in a lot of ways. Important here, of course, is the fact that the multiverse was essentially created in this episode. It almost serves as an origin story for the MCU’s multiverse, and it has the best explanation of it yet, though Multiverse of Madness will surely dive deeper into multiversal lore.
5. What If… ? Episode 4
If you are wondering why a What If… ? episode is so high on this list–you haven’t seen this episode. The fourth episode of the anthology series features a variant of Doctor Strange (Doctor Strange Supreme) who takes a darker path than our main Doctor Strange. This episode will feature so many similar themes to Multiverse of Madness, and Doctor Strange Supreme might even make an appearance. The film creators have even cited Episode 4 as inspiration for the live-action story. And, quite frankly, this is hands-down the best Doctor Strange story the MCU has given us.
6. Avengers: Infinity War
Infinity War really toes the line between “essential” and “encouraged,” but overall there’s enough important content to call it essential. Doctor Strange is a major part of the plot due to his connection with the Time Stone. His character seemed to develop significantly between Doctor Strange and this movie. It also features his most intricate and visually-stunning fight scenes, showcasing how strong his sorcery can be. Infinity War also contributes to Wanda’s character development, serving as the bedrock for her grief in WandaVision. It also hints at how powerful she is, as she has the power to destroy the Mind Stone.
If you are familiar with Doctor Strange’s and the Scarlet Witch’s major appearances and story arcs, you should be prepared enough to watch Multiverse of Madness without a problem. Still, there are several more major MCU outings that could enhance your understanding of the film’s main characters, major MCU events, and even just multiversal themes and mechanics. So, these five viewings are highly encouraged but likely not necessary.
1. Avengers: Endgame
Neither Doctor Strange nor Wanda Maximoff have much screentime or development in Endgame, because they were both snapped out of existence at the end of Infinity War. Still, it just seems odd not to recommend Endgame for any Phase Four MCU project–the events are just too significant. Plus, the Avengers’ time travel hints at the concept of alternate universes, and Steve Rogers’ ending certainly suggests that, even without the events of Loki, at least one other universe could have been created.
2. Avengers: Age of Ultron
Age of Ultron comes before Doctor Strange’s appearance in the MCU, but it is the first appearance of Wanda Maximoff, which is obviously significant. The Multiverse of Madness trailer also featured what looks like Ultron Sentinels, so that connection may be of some value as well.
3. Captain America: Civil War
The Scarlet Witch’s level of power will no doubt play a major role in the events of Multiverse of Madness. Civil War was really the first time her ability to control them was called into question, though WandaVision did later expand on that idea. The film also is part of Wanda’s on-screen character development in the MCU and hints even more at her growing relationship with Vision.
4. What If… ? Episodes 8 and 9
If Multiverse of Madness does anything, it will take our characters on quite the trip through the multiverse. The final two episodes of Disney+’s What If… ? heavily feature that concept. The visuals from the Watcher’s universe-shattering fight with Infinity Ultron might be the standard to look out for in live-action. Plus, these episodes brought the Guardians of the Multiverse, which in a sense was a glorified grouping of variant cameos. Audiences should certainly be prepared for some glorified cameos from MCU variants in Multiverse of Madness.
5. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Shang-Chi is another tricky one. While it is not particularly highlighted, the film definitely suggests that Ta Lo is an alternate universe, so the mechanics of traveling to and from it certainly implicate interesting multiverse questions. The film is also the most recent appearance of Wong (other than his three-second cameo in No Way Home). The post-credits scene with the Ten Rings beacon likely is not connected to Multiverse of Madness, but you never know.
At this point, if you have watched everything above, you almost certainly know everything that Multiverse of Madness wants or expects you to know going in. If you want to keep going, here are some extra suggestions that will likely add to your experience, but are not overly important.
1. The Original X-Men Trilogy
Since Patrick Stewart is actually confirmed to be Charles Xavier in Multiverse of Madness, it does mean that viewers will get something out of being familiar with the character’s past in the general Marvel film universe. How much is hard to say–he could be a four-second cameo for all we know, and the variant might be nothing like the Professor X from the X-Men movies. Considering the wealth of cameo possibilities as well, maybe familiarity with other characters in the franchise will come in handy.
2. Thor: Ragnarok
Ragnarok features the final (in terms of this list) live-action Doctor Strange appearance in the MCU. So, if you are looking to check off all of those boxes, you should give this one a watch. His role is very minor and is more of a fun cameo, but still.
3. What If… ? Episode 5
Yes, there is yet another What If… ? suggestion. The Multiverse of Madness trailer features what looks like a zombie Doctor Strange, so this might be a fun one to be able to reference. It is also a pretty enjoyable episode, so there are not many drawbacks to adding this to your list.
4. The Rest of What If… ?
Multiverse of Madness is going to explore the multiverse. The only other MCU property to truly do that is What If… ?. It almost certainly will serve as a primer of some sort for the Doctor Strange sequel, but no particular plotline (other than Episode 4, as noted above) will likely have much influence on the events of the film. Captain Carter from Episode 1 is, however, very heavily and convincingly rumored to make an appearance in Multiverse of Madness. If you enjoyed the specific episodes higher up on this list, you might as well give the rest of the short series a shot.
Easter Egg Hunting
There is a certain point with Multiverse of Madness where the watchlist recommendations get overly complicated. Of course, the movie is rumored to have an inordinately large amount of cameos from across literally all of Marvel’s properties. If you want to be prepared for any possible cameo, you practically have to watch every Marvel (MCU and non-MCU) movie and series to date. Still, here’s a quick list of some films to watch based on some of the bigger and more popular (and unconfirmed) rumors that would not necessarily already be included in the films or series listed above:
- Captain Marvel
- Fantastic Four (2004)
- X-Men Prequel Films
- Daredevil (2015 series and/or 2003 movie)
- Ghost Rider
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on May 6, 2022.