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Is 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' setting up 'Secret Wars'?

We sense a major Incursion brewing...

By Josh Weiss
Marvel's Secret Wars Comic Cover

What is the MCU's next big crossover event? It's a pretty valid question. For better or worse, the epic nature of Avengers: Endgame spoiled audiences rotten. Despite the fact that Phase 4 has only just gotten underway, fans have already started to feverishly speculate on where the comic book mythos is headed next.

The answer to that lingering mystery may have already been hinted at by the events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which carried forth the potential for infinite storytelling possibilities espoused by the Loki television series on Disney+. As Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige teased last summer: "The multiverse is coming up in a big way." How big are we talking exactly? Judging by where things currently stand, we'd say Secret Wars-level big.

The new Doctor Strange film goes out of its way to introduce the concept of Incursions and the dangers they pose. As explained by John Krasinski's Reed Richards of Earth-838, Incursions are multiversal doomsday scenarios in which two universes collide until one (or both) are destroyed entirely.

Readers of the comics will recognize the fictional phenomenon from the major role it played in the critically-acclaimed 2015 Secret Wars arc (not to be confused with Secret Invasion, which is getting adapted for television at Disney+) written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Esad Ribić. In this storyline, the entire multiverse is destroyed by Incursions, prompting the trio of Doctor Strange, Doctor Doom, and Molecule Man to weave the remnants of several realities together to form the realm known as Battleworld.

Speaking to SYFY WIRE recently, Multiverse of Madness screenwriter Michael Waldron told us — straight up — that his decision to invite the threat of Incursions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe party was no coincidence. "I’m a fan of Jonathan Hickman and read his Illuminati comics and I’m a fan of all of that stuff in Secret Wars," he explained. "And so, everything’s in there for a reason."

Waldron refused to go any further than that, but his terse answer still gives us plenty to chew on for the time being. His strong hint at Incursions factoring into the wider storytelling quilt moving forward seems to imply the existence of a Secret Wars project, or — at the very least — a big screen adventure with similarly gargantuan stakes. Thanks to the arrival of Charlize Theron's Clea in the film's mid-credits sequence, we know that Strange's decision to dream-walk in an effort to defeat Scarlet Witch was not without its consequences. Yes, the good doctor saved the day, but he also caused an Incursion, which requires fixing pronto.

Something tells us these are going to become more and more frequent, eventually resulting in a multiversal disaster that can't be repaired by traditional means. When that happens, when all else fails, Joe and Anthony Russo will be there, ready to deliver another history-making box office smash.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Doctor Strange 2 is very much a Sam Raimi horror film. Other upcoming horror films include Firestarter in theaters and streaming on Peacock on May 13, The Black Phone in theaters on June 24, and Jordan Peele's NOPE in theaters July 22.