There’s no denying it. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is a bonafide hit with fans and at the box office – as if anyone had any doubt in the Marvel machine continuing to rake in money. The film has already taken in over $500 Million worldwide in less than a week and has revived the nerd world’s interest in director Sam Raimi all over again.
However, the film wouldn’t be anywhere without the talented writing of “Loki” writer Michael Waldron, who joined The Playlist’s Editor-In-Chief Rodrigo Perez for a spoiler-filled conversation about all things Marvel and how he got involved with the Doctor Strange sequel originally to help the existing script across the finish line.
“I came on in February 2020 after Scott [Derrickson] and the original writer on the project, Jade Bartlett, departed and Sam Raimi joined maybe just a couple of days after me,” Waldron explained about the timeline and process. “And they had been working on something that was great. It had a ton of excellent ideas in it and, originally, we were just kind of inheriting the bones of that idea and going to try to get it ready to start shooting in a couple of months. But that was, as I said, February of 2020, so then everything shut down because of COVID and that afforded Sam and I the opportunity to set all that aside and really start from scratch, so there’s not really much of anything [of the old script] that remains.”
The conversation quickly turned into spoiler territory, discussing Wanda’s ultimate role as the film’s villain and the contingent of fan backlash that followed.
“I guess I would say to the ‘WandaVision’ fans, like, I get it,” Waldron admitted when asked about some of the Wanda Maximoff fans that were upset about her heel turn. “Watching a character you love do bad things sucks. That elicits a strong feeling, which is what we’re trying to do in the movies. We never would have done it if it didn’t feel like the next step in her character journey. To me, my interpretation of the story of ‘WandaVision’ was, that Wanda is confronting her grief in that show, but I don’t think she’s necessarily conquering it. It’s a show about her living in denial to some extent and she’s conquering her denial, but I don’t think that she’s properly reckoning with her anger over what she’s endured, and that anger is what she carries with her as she walks away with the knowledge that she is the Scarlett Witch and with the Darkhold, this evil book. And I think it’s that anger that the Darkhold preys upon and pushes her on what is a, to me and I think to Wanda, a very justifiable, noble journey. She just wants her kids.”
No discussion of the film would be complete without addressing the “Illuminati” of it all and whether their fate was a meta-commentary on cameos in general or not. Instead, Waldron said the intention was to “oh sh*t” the stakes of it all.
“It wasn’t a meta thing, I will say,” Waldron said of his intentions for the untimely demise of the Illuminati. “It was not me trying to make fun of the audience in the way that ‘MacGruber‘ does it when they introduced Chris Jericho or whoever it is and they blow them up in the car. It was more designed to show you how terrifying Wanda actually is. Like in ‘Aliens’ when it’s, ‘Here come the space marines!’ and ‘We’re safe!’ and then they get massacred right at the top of the second act and now you know you’re f-cked. Hopefully, that’s the feeling.”
As for the many fan-speculated cameos that swirled around the internet before the film’s release for the Illuminati scene, Waldron was quick to downplay other characters’ involvement, like a Tom Cruise Iron Man or Deadpool.
“This was the only version we shot,” Waldron said of the Illuminati cameos in the film. “There was certainly discussions and I wrote different pages and stuff, but this line-up was always the absolute wish list line-up and, frankly, if we had gotten just one of these characters and surrounded them with more obscure characters, it still would have felt like, ‘Holy sh*t, I can’t believe we pulled that off!’ So, to have gotten all of them is unreal and I’m glad they all get their individual moment to shine.”
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is in theaters now. You can listen to the entire deep-dive conversation below:
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