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Oh no... our reality... it's broken! Marvel Studios tore the universe — and internet — asunder during Super Bowl LVI Sunday evening with the premiere of the official trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Opening in theaters May 6, the Sam Raimi-directed film finds the titular wizard (played by the returning Benedict Cumberbatch) under fire for messing with the very fabric of the multiverse during the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home. If we had to guess, we'd say this footage is a lot like the initial promotional materials for No Way Home, in that it's probably holding back. Don't get us wrong, that's a good thing — we'd prefer to be surprised in the theater, but for the time being, we're left with more questions than answers.
To that end, here are six lingering mysteries still bopping around the fandom of madness in the wake of the trailer's release....
How does anyone remember that Strange messed with reality?
Yes, Strange messed with the fabric of reality in Spider-Man: No Way Home, but how does anyone in the MCU still remember that? The whole point of the spell was to essentially "brainwash" the entire planet into forgetting about Peter Parker's secret identity.
The way we see it, there are two solutions to this conundrum: 1) It's simply explained away by some magic/extra-dimensional mumbo jumbo or 2) The memory erasure spell didn't apply to the act of invoking the Runes of Kauf-Kaul. In other words, Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) — who set out to cleanse the world of magic-users at the end of the last Doctor Strange movie — is aware that Strange torn the multiverse asunder, but doesn't know the specific reason why. Anything is possible when you're dealing with infinite realities.
Is the MCU setting up the Illuminati?
For his "desecration of reality," Stephen is arrested by a futuristic agency that brings to mind the Time Variance Authority of the Loki series on Disney+. We don't know what this organization is yet, beyond the fact that they use Ultron-looking robots (with a bit of Invincible Iron Man vibes) as enforcers. The most interesting bit comes at the 1:20-mark when the Master of the Mystic Arts finds himself before a tribunal of sorts — one that seems to be led by none other than Sir Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier of the X-Men films of the early 2000s (where a young Kevin Feige got his start in Hollywood, by the way).
We don't see Professor X's face, but we do hear what seems to distinctly be his voice, plus we can glimpse the back of a balding head. This heavily implies that the MCU plans to introduce the Illuminati, a secret cabal of the Marvel Universe's greatest and most powerful individuals who formed a brain trust to shape the world as they saw fit. In the comics, Strange and Xavier are both members alongside Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Iron Man, and Inhuman king Black Bolt.
There are theories upon theories of all the mind-blowing cameos this project will contain (see the final entry on our list for more) and Marvel Studios just reinforced all of them with that tease of Stewart.
Is Wanda the movie's Big Bad?
It sure seems that way! Last we left her, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) had gone into self-imposed exile, plumbing the forbidden secrets of the Darkhold in an effort to get her two sons back. Sometime after No Way Home, Strange tracks her down and asks if she knows anything about the multiverse. According to Wanda, Vision "had his theories" and "believed it was dangerous."
However, Wanda does what she wants and finds it rather irksome that while she is branded as a villain for messing with the natural order of things, Strange gets to be considered a hero for doing the same exact thing. She's clearly bitter and perhaps not the ally Stephen thought she might be. If he's in serious hot water for what he did in No Way Home, then there's no way Scarlet Witch won't get penalized. Is Strange's only way out of this mess stopping Wanda from tearing apart the multiverse even further?
How does America Chavez factor into the story?
In the comics, America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) hails from the Utopian Parallel, a world that exists beyond the regular confines of the space-time continuum. Will Mutiverse of Madness keep in line with the character's origin story or go for a different twist?
It'd make the most sense to stay true to the source material as Miss America only found herself hopping between dimensions when the Utopian Parallel was nearly destroyed and scattered across the multiverse by "mysterious forces." As such, the film can simply explain that Strange's wayward spell-casting in No Way Home was the mysterious force that displaced Chavez from her home and brought her into the MCU.
What’s with that Strange statue?
Why is there a regal statue of Doctor Strange chilling in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum? Even the sorcerer himself seems perplexed by its presence, which could be an indicator that he's in a different reality. Maybe this a dystopian dimension ruled over by his darker half?
"Things just got out of hand," indeed.
Is Deadpool hiding in the new poster?
Not exactly a trailer-based question, but several fans are swearing up and down that a shushing Deadpool is hiding out in one of the fractured shards featured on the movie's latest poster. We here at SYFY WIRE haven't been able to spot it in our own analysis of the artwork, but that doesn't mean the theory isn't true. Inserting one's self into a poster for an entirely different movie sounds exactly like something the anarchy-loving Wade Wilson would do. If the Merc With a Mouth were to show up in any regular MCU movie, it would most definitely be this one.
Something concrete that we were able to decipher from the poster is that one of the shards in the bottom right-hand corner clearly shows Captain Carter's shield, seemingly implying that the world of What If...? is coming to the realm of live-action. Another fragment near the bottom of the left-hand side looks like it might contain the Captain Marvel emblem. Will Carol Danvers and/or Monica Rambeau make some sort of guest appearance?