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His name is R̶o̶b̶e̶r̶t̶ ̶P̶a̶u̶l̶s̶o̶n̶ Stephen Strange. We need to talk aboutDoctor Strange. More specifically, we need to talk about the Sorcerer Supreme (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) not showing up in WandaVision, despite the fact that he was originally supposed to make a quick cameo that would have directly tied the show to next year's Multiverse of Madness.
As we reported in early May, the good doctor was snapped out of the storyline because "it would have taken away from Wanda," Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said during an interview with Rolling Stone. "We didn’t want the end of the show to be commoditized to go to the next movie — here’s the white guy, ‘Let me show you how power works,’” he added.
Before Strange was removed, however, the plan was to have him be behind the various commercials featured throughout the nine episodes. By the end of the ninth episode, we'd learn that these were his way of trying to get through to her. When it first revealed this news, Rolling Stone was a tad light on specific details, but thanks to a massive oral history on the MCU television series, we now have some answers. One of the biggest revelations is that Strange nearly made a Tyler Durden-inspired appearance for the Nexus ad seen in Episode 7 ("Breaking the Fourth Wall").
"It would kind of be a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo, a quick image of Dr. Strange as the pharmacist in the background," explained showrunner Jac Schaeffer. "I was very inspired by Fight Club, when Brad Pitt’s character is on the TV in the hotel — like, if you’re looking closely you’d see it for just a second. We were like, 'The Nexus commercial is her subconscious. What if Strange is in the background and trying to reach her?' But ultimately we decided in favor of Wanda’s own story."
Nevertheless, Cumberbatch — much like his onscreen counterpart — was able to look into the future and watch all of WandaVision before it premiered on Disney+.
"He had really positive things to say about how the show ended up," Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff) said. "I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to change certain things in WandaVision in order to support what’s going to happen in Doctor Strange. For any actor, that lack of control can be tough. But he said it is really this perfect journey that you watch her go through, in order to be invested in Doctor Strange, too. So that made me feel good, because I do feel that way myself. I feel we’ve managed to make it make a lot of sense."
All nine episodes of WandaVision are currently available to stream on Disney+. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which wrapped production back in April, portals into theaters everywhere March 25, 2022.