Warning: SPOILERS for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness!
Some familiar Marvel Cinematic Universe characters return alongside Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange, but Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness also sets up many new MCU characters for the future. The returning lineup of heroes in the Phase 4 sequel includes Strange, Wong (Benedict Wong), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) as a villain, and variants of Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), and Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor). But, Doctor Strange 2 also takes complete advantage of the Multiverse to introduce some new characters too.
For the majority of Doctor Strange 2's runtime, the new character that receives the biggest spotlight is America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez). Her unique multiverse-traveling powers put a target on America's back, as Scarlet Witch wants to use them to be reunited with her children in a different universe. It all builds to Scarlet Witch abducting America Chavez through the multiverse and fighting a zombie Doctor Strange at Mount Wundagore. Doctor Strange 2's ending has lasting implications for the MCU, too, as Marvel Studios sets up multiple Phase 4 movies and TV shows by the time the story wraps up.
Beyond how Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness paves the way for other MCU projects, the Phase 4 movie also plays a massive role in setting up some important future characters. The presence of Earth-838's The Illuminati team alone is enough to tease some of the most powerful heroes the MCU has yet to introduce. However, thanks to a variety of other references and Easter eggs, Doctor Strange 2 sets up 13 new MCU characters as well.
The appearance of John Krasinski as Reed Richards, a.k.a. Mister Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness directly sets up the character making a proper appearance in the MCU. His role in the movie came through Earth-838, making him a part of Earth-616's universe instead. However, it is clear that Marvel Studios uses Reed's cameo to get audiences familiar with the idea that the Fantastic Four will join the sprawling cinematic universe. Whether or not John Krasinski continues to play Mister Fantastic remains to be seen, though. With the MCU's Fantastic Four movie still in development as a Phase 4 title, it won't be long before the Earth-616 Reed Richards is featured - regardless of if Krasinski remains in the role.
Professor X's appearance as part of Doctor Strange 2's The Illuminati team provides the MCU with a link to the X-Men founder. As portrayed by Patrick Stewart of Fox's X-Men franchise, this variant of Charles Xavier is once again a new interpretation of the character. The blend of Professor X from the live-action X-Men movies and X-Men: The Animated Series will not be the same when the MCU introduces its own version of the character, and Marvel Studios will surely want a younger actor than Patrick Stewart to be involved with the X-Men's MCU reboot. Since mutants have yet even to be established in the main MCU timeline, it is unclear when Professor X will join the MCU properly after this Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness tease. However, he will surely make his Earth-616 debut before too long as Marvel Studios maps out the introduction of mutants.
The other surprise member of The Illuminati saw Black Bolt (Anson Mount), the leader of the Inhumans, appear in Doctor Strange 2 and set up his proper MCU introduction. Despite ABC, Marvel TV, and IMAX making a failed Inhumans TV show in 2017 after Marvel Studios abandoned plans to make a movie, it appears the Inhumans aren't completely off the table five years later. Black Bolt's appearance through the multiverse provides a glimpse at what the MCU could be like when he finally makes his debut. Just like Professor X, it is unclear where Black Bolt will appear next. Ms. Marvel would be a perfect landing spot if Marvel weren't removing her connections to the Inhumans. Whenever Black Bolt appears in the main MCU universe, Anson Mount could return to the role and get a chance at redemption after the disappointing story he was initially dealt.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' post-credits scene sets up Clea in the MCU. Played by Charlize Theron, she is a powerful sorceress from the Dark Dimension and recurring love interest of Doctor Strange in the comics. Clea's appearance in Doctor Strange 2 sets up the two magical beings working together to tackle a multiverse problem known as an incursion. This is when two universes collide, which could result in the destruction of one or both universes. Marvel Studios hasn't confirmed where Charlize Theron's Clea will appear next, but a role in Doctor Strange 3 appears the most likely. Clea's involvement in the MCU moving forward could mean a further exploration of the Dark Dimension, including the possible reveal that she's unseated Dormammu as the realm's ruler.
One line in Doctor Strange 2 directly sets up Sue Storm, a.k.a. Invisible Woman in the MCU. During The Illuminati's fight with Scarlet Witch, Mister Fantastic tries to plead with her to stop and notes that he understands what it is like to love one's child. When Wanda Maximoff asks if his kids still have a mother, Reed confirms that they do. This serves as the first mention of Sue Storm in the MCU, as Sue and Reed are married in the comics and have multiple children together. Sue Storm is a mighty hero in the Marvel universe, as she can turn invisible and create force fields. It is expected that the MCU's version of Invisible Woman will make its debut in Fantastic Four, although it's possible Sue Storm has a cameo in another Marvel project first. The role is not yet cast, although Emily Blunt is a fan-favorite option to pair her with John Krasinski's Mister Fantastic.
Thanks to Doctor Strange 2's mention of Reed Richards having children, the movie also helps set up his son Franklin Richards. Despite being a teenager or younger in the comics, Franklin Richards is one of the most powerful Marvel heroes ever to exist. He has the ability to alter reality and also has a variety of telepathic powers. He might not be named during Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness or even be confirmed to exist in Earth-616, but the tease of him is big enough. Franklin Richards' powers enabled him to play a major role when the Multiverse began collapsing due to incursions, which Doctor Strange 2 mentions. Assuming the MCU explores more multiverse storytelling and incursions moving forward, Franklin Richards of Earth-838 or another reality could crossover with the main universe.
In addition to Franklin Richards, Doctor Strange 2 sets up another future MCU character in Valeria Richards, thanks to the mention that Mister Fantastic has kids, not just one kid. Valeria is the second child of Reed Richards and Sue Storm and the younger sister of Franklin in the comics. She does not possess any true superpowers, although she does receive genius-level intellect due to the cosmic mutation passed down from her parents. This puts Valeria Richards in contention to be the world's smartest girl in the comics. Doctor Strange 2's subtle setup for Reed and Sue's daughter could mean that she too will be introduced in the MCU's Fantastic Four movie.
The Living Tribunal is further set up in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. During the sequence where America Chavez and Doctor Strange tumble through multiple universes, one quite clearly has the Living Tribunal stationed in it. A cosmic being older than the universe itself, the Living Tribunal is responsible for keeping the multiverse safe and is instantly recognizable by its three-faced design. Loki season 1 included a nod to the multiverse entity as a statue of it was seen in the Void. The Phase 4 movie provides a clear look at a living version of the character, though. It makes sense for Doctor Strange 2 to tease Living Tribunal in this fashion, as it would be quite surprising if the MCU's multiverse story continues and the golden three-headed character doesn't return.
Doctor Strange 2's exploration of the multiverse might have also helped set up Ka-Zar, the protector of the Savage Land. One of the universes glimpsed during Doctor Strange and America Chavez's travels showed dinosaurs fighting in a forest setting. This might be the MCU's version of the Savage Land in a different universe. The Savage Land is a hidden jungle in Antarctica that is prehistoric in nature, allowing all types of dinosaurs and ancient creatures to exist there. If this is the Savage Land, then Doctor Strange 2's multiverse scene also teases Kevin Plunder, a.k.a. Ka-Zar, who is raised by a saber-toothed tiger after his father dies there. There are no confirmed plans for Ka-Zar to join the MCU, but perhaps that is about to change in Phase 4 or 5.
There is also clear setup in Doctor Strange 2 for a new Marvel villain, as Chthon is namedropped during the multiverse film. Believed to be the first demon in the MCU, Chthon is the creator of the Darkhold, prophesied Scarlet Witch's powers, and created Mount Wundagore. It is currently unknown what happened to the ancient demon after these events occurred in the MCU. However, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness clearly paves the way for Chthon to return in the future, as it could save Scarlet Witch from the dead.
The presence of Mount Wundagore in Doctor Strange 2 might also set up High Evolutionary, the rumored villain of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Also known as Herbert Wyndham, he's a genius scientist obsessed with unlocking the secrets of genetics and evolving humanity to a higher form. His origin in the comics is tied to Mount Wundagore, where he even fought Chthon and played a role in configuring the upbringing of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. High Evolutionary is heavily expected to be the main villain of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, as set photos have teased a visit to Counter-Earth, a duplicate of Earth he created. It is not confirmed that he'll have the same origin in the MCU, but the introduction of Mount Wunagore makes it possible.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness might also set up the sorcerer's next villain, Nightmare. The powerful Fear Lord is the ruler of the Nightmare Realm in the comics, which is located in the Dream Dimension. Doctor Strange 2 included a surprising reveal that all dreams are actually a glimpse into the multiverse. Thanks to the role that dreams play and the references to them being nightmares as well, the breadcrumbs for Nightmare's MCU debut might now exist. He might not be an exact translation of his comics counterpart whenever he debuts, as a multiverse connection now seems likely, but the hopes of Nightmare being Doctor Strange 3's villain could come true after all.
There is also some subtle setup for Deadpool in the MCU during Doctor Strange 2. In addition to featuring a mutant in Professor X, the movie includes two examples of characters breaking the fourth wall. Scarlet Witch does it when she first takes control of her variant's body while dreamwalking, and Bruce Campbell's Pizza Poppa does it again during Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' post-credits scene. Since breaking the fourth wall is one of Deadpool's signature moves, the MCU continues to tease Ryan Reynolds' mutant ahead of Deadpool 3.
More: Do The X-Men Exist In The Avengers Universe After Doctor Strange 2?
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