Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness is almost upon us. In just a few weeks, the exciting Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbuster will be playing in theaters around the world. Because of this, now is the time to start getting your brain prepared for what’s in store – and there are seven titles specifically that you should be watching to get ready.
You can consult our Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline if you want to watch every single in-canon movie and show prior to Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, but if you’re looking to narrow your focus a bit, you’ve found the right guide. Below are the seven MCU titles that will get you ready for the sci-fi/fantasy adventure, and they are listed in watch order.
Avengers: Age Of Ultron
If you’re doing a proper rewatch to prepare for Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, you really have to start with a film that came out even before the titular character was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is in recognition of the key supporting role that Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. Scarlet Witch has in the upcoming blockbuster. So rather than start with Doctor Strange, your marathon’s real kick-off point should be Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
It’s in the 2015 sequel to The Avengers that Wanda Maximoff is introduced as a powerful new hero who has special abilities that have been unlocked thanks to experiments performed by the evil organization Hydra. In the film we see her not only move things with her mind, but manipulate the minds of others.
I know: the idea of watching a movie before watching its direct sequel is a radical idea, but please bear with me. All joking aside, Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange most certainly is quintessential viewing if you want to witness the cinematic journey of the titular sorcerer, as it’s the blockbuster that informs the audience what Dr. Stephen Strange is all about and why he is an important pillar of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The 2016 film introduces its titular character as a genius-yet-arrogant brain surgeon who sees his life as he knows it destroyed when his hands are critically damaged in a car accident. After numerous experimental procedures fail to repair his nerve-endings, his desperation leads him to Kamar-Taj – a training ground in Nepal where, under the watchful eye of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), Wong (Benedict Wong), and Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), he learns to become a master of the mystic arts.
Avengers: Infinity War
Less than two years after his spectacle-filled arrival in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Strange found himself joining forces with some of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to help save the universe from a devastating threat: namely Thanos, who is on a quest to collect all of the Infinity Stones and destroy half of all life in existence. Joe and Anthony Russo’s Avengers: Infinity War is a massive table-setter for the franchise, and Strange has a vital role to play.
The brilliant sorcerer meets Bruce Banner/Hulk, Tony Stark/Iron Man, and Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the first act of the film, the heroes fighting Thanos’ minions sent to collect the Time Stone, and before too long he is off in outer space meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy. Strange has a key role in the fight against Thanos, as he peers into the future and discovers the one and only path to defeating the Mad Titan… but before the heroes can get a win, the first suffer a big loss. (Wanda Maximoff in particular is hurt more than anybody.)
Truth be told, neither Doctor Strange nor Scarlet Witch have massive roles to play in Joe and Anthony Russo’s Avengers: Endgame (a consequence of the events that unfold in Avengers: Infinity War), but they do have them – with Strange in particular playing a huge part in orchestrating what is arguably the most incredible event we’ve seen yet in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: assembling the Avengers in the fight against Thanos.
In addition to seeing that the heroes execute the one possible way that Thanos can be defeated, Doctor Strange is also a key defensive player in the blockbuster – making sure that all of his super colleagues aren’t drowned by a massive wave. Meanwhile, Scarlet Witch gets closer than any other single Avenger to killing the Mad Titan single-handedly, setting up interesting things to come…
As alluded to, Wanda Maximoff experiences a terrible loss in Avengers: Infinity War, and in the wake of the events featured in Avengers: Endgame, she doesn’t deal with the situation very well. Her intense grief sees her already incredible gifts become exponentially more powerful, and a consequence of this is that she ends up altering reality.
When Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness was first announced years ago, the news came paired with the fact that the movie would directly connect to WandaVision. That in mind, even if you run out of time to watch all of the movies mentioned above before your screening of Doctor Strange 2, you really should at the very least try and squeeze in a viewing of this 10-episode limited series.
Loki is a bit of an outlier on this list, in that it is the only title that doesn’t actually feature any of the characters who are confirmed to appear in Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. That being said, it is arguably essential viewing, because it lays a lot of the groundwork for audiences to understand how the multiverse works in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (though there are questions about the sci-fi concept that still need to be addressed).
It also feels crucial to mention that Loki’s head writer is Michael Waldron, who also happens to be the credited screenwriter behind Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. We don’t know for sure if he set up certain elements in the Disney+ series to pay off in the Sam Raimi-directed blockbuster, but better to be safe than sorry.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
In the wake of Loki, Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: No Way Home not only continued the conversation about the multiverse in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but put Doctor Strange at the center of the film’s big conflict. Peter Parker tries to get the master of the mystic arts to change reality and stop people from knowing his secret identity as Spider-Man, but constant interruptions from the high schooler causes things to go very, very wrong.
In the same way that Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness is expected to follow up on the plotline from WandaVision, one can rationally predict that the upcoming film will see the titular surgeon-turned-wizard facing some consequences as a result of his meddling with the nature of reality. Things may seem like they are wrapped up at the end of Spider-Man: No Way Home for the web-slinger, but that may not be the case for Doctor Strange.
Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness arrives in theaters everywhere on May 6 (and it’s already setting box office records). For more about everything that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has coming up in the coming years, check out our Upcoming Marvel Movies and Upcoming Marvel TV Shows guide.
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7 Marvel Movies And TV Shows To Watch Ahead Of Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness