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SYFY WIRE Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Benedict Cumberbatch teases 'Multiverse of Madness' just as ambitious as 'Spider-Man: No Way Home'

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters everywhere Friday, May 6.

By Josh Weiss
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness PRESS

In a move that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, Benedict Cumberbatch recently compared the storytelling ambition of director Sam Raimi's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to that of Spider-Man: No Way Home.

“It’s a big, big movie,” the actor teased to Empire Magazine, whose latest issue goes on sale this Thursday (March 17). “It’s going to be an absolute riot. And if it brings off the level of ambition it’s got, we’re going to have a success on the level of Spidey. There you go, I’ll put my flag in the sand.”

Judging by the trailers released so far, Multiverse of Madness picks up in the immediate aftermath of No Way Home, which nearly ended with a complete implosion of reality before Strange reversed his spell and made everyone forget about Spider-Man's (Tom Holland) secret identity. Crisis averted, right? Well, yes, but actually no. The sorcerer's wanton treatment of the universe hasn't gone unnoticed by folks like Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who set out to rid the world of its magic-users at the end of the first Doctor Strange movie.

“There’s a lot of reckoning,” Cumberbatch teased. “And a lot of self-discovery. Strange is almost a stranger to himself before this film unfolds and reveals what, essentially, is in his nature, that he then has to either confront or resist or fall into or become ... There are some very bold ideas, and some extraordinary tests of Strange and encounters There are some very unexpected conclusions."

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness PRESS

In addition to the wrath of Mordo, Strange's antics have also caught the attention of a secret, Illuminati-esque panel that seems to be led by Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier, aka the bald leader of the X-Men. What's more: they seem to be holding a lot more cards than the Master of the Mystic Arts ever did. While Stewart pretty much confirmed that he does appear in the film, producer Richie Palmer sowed a bit of doubt (in true MCU fashion) while chatting with Empire.

“I’ll quote the first X-Men movie and say, ‘Are you sure you saw what you saw?’,” Palmer reportedly said with a laugh. “There are infinite versions of these characters, and just because you may have heard something familiar doesn’t mean it’s someone you have seen before." He later added: "I will say that I love the Illuminati. But if we ever introduce the Illuminati in the future, it might be more MCU-driven and have some more ties to our characters in the MCU, versus just replicating what’s in the comics."

Very interesting. He didn't straight-up deny that was Professor X we heard in the Super Bowl trailer — only hinted that this may not be the version we know from the 20th Century Fox continuity. Whatever the case, something tells us Marvel Studios probably threw fans a bone to keep them from sniffing out more multiversal cameos.

Theories from across the internet swear up and down that we'll see appearances from Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool, to the Fantastic Four, to Nicolas Cage's Ghost Rider, to Tom Cruise as Superior Iron Man, to everything else in between. “As you saw in Spider-Man: No Way Home, some rumors ended up being true, some did not,” the producer continued. “I would love to see Tony again, but some rumors are just rumors."

Given that Stephen admitted his own lack of knowledge when it came to the inner workings of the many-worlds interpretation, the sequel will present the character with a foil — America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) — a hero who knows a thing or two about jumping between realities. "Strange is still learning about the Multiverse,” Raimi said. “And here’s a character that can actually travel through it. He’s such a know-it-all all the time, and to have to learn from a kid probably smarts.”

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters everywhere Friday, May 6.