Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has finally arrived, with the Marvel blockbuster arriving to great fanfare and an impressive box office this past weekend. As much as Multiverse of Madness is concerned with the long-running character arcs of Stephen Strange / Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), it's been a bit of an open secret that the film has its fair share of surprises with regards to larger Marvel canon. That can especially be seen with the film's approach to The Illuminati, with the group providing an opportunity to fully introduce characters from the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, in the form of Charles Xavier / Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Reed Richards / Mr. Fantastic (John Krasinski), respectively. While speaking to ComicBook.com about Multiverse of Madness, screenwriter Michael Waldron addressed the fact that the film helped bring characters from both teams into the MCU, calling it all a team effort.
"I can't confirm or deny any specifics of that stuff yet," Waldron said of the properties' potential reboots in the MCU. "But I mean, I try not to think of it as me being the one, introducing them. We're all doing it together. Everybody in that sequence, it's a collaboration with [director] Sam [Raimi], of course, [and] with the actors. I'm just trying to give them a great foundation, to come in and bring this stuff to life. And geez, they all knocked it out of the park."
Professor X and Mr. Fantastic's appearances in Multiverse of Madness come after the X-Men and Fantastic Four rights were held up at 20th Century Fox for decades, prior to Disney's acquisition of the company a few years back, and any inclusions or references to them in MCU canon were relatively few and far between. As Waldron stated, it's unclear when either group will topline their own live-action project in the MCU, with Fantastic Four recently losing Jon Watts as its director, and the X-Men not yet announced among Marvel's slate. Still, the Multiverse of Madness cameos serve as the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the multiverse — and the MCU — can be capable of.
"You know, I think we first mentioned it, or the Ancient One mentions it in Doctor Strange 1 when she's taking Stephen Strange through that mind-warping journey. It was always one of the most powerful storytelling tools in the comics," Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige previously explained to Collider. "One you have to wield carefully because it can get overwhelming, but now also one with the 20-plus history of the movies there are enough characters we can start playing with it that way. We mention it, obviously, as part of Mysterio's ruse in Far From Home. I think the toys that were added to that toybox increased with that Fox acquisition, but it didn't change the timetable on when we were introducing the idea of the multiverse."
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now playing in theaters.