What is heartbreak, if not fandom persevering? Marvel's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a sequel to 2016's Doctor Strange, Disney+ series Loki, and Spider-Man: No Way Home all at once, but it's WandaVision fans who will be "heartbroken" when Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) returns. The Marvel Studios Original series saw a grieving Wanda conjure a reality of her own making, undoing the deaths of partner Vision (Paul Bettany) and brother Pietro (Evan Peters, a meta recast of Aaron Taylor-Johnson). With a hex spell cast over the suburban neighborhood of Westview, New Jersey, Wanda and Vision lived happily ever after with twin sons Billy (Julian Hilliard) and Tommy (Jett Klyne).
But "happily ever after" was just for nine episodes. After Wanda's transformation into the Scarlet Witch, who wields chaos magic exceeding the power of the Sorcerer Supreme, Wanda reversed her sitcom-inspired fantasy and returned to reality: a world where her family doesn't exist.
In the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame and WandaVision, director Sam Raimi's Doctor Strange 2 will take Wanda through the vast Multiverse — and more stages of grief.
"Wanda has always been a huge character, and people love Lizzie as Wanda, but WandaVision expanded her. It made her more of a real character," Multiverse of Madness co-producer Mitch Bell told The Los Angeles Times. "The fans were excited about seeing her and where she goes after that."
Bell added that Kevin Feige's Marvel Studios wants to have "heart and humor in the movies," but at the same time, "You want to make sure that people laugh, and you want to make sure that people have a really good time. Adding the grief aspect of it just [means] more emotions. ... That [makes] fans more attached to the characters. ... They're going to be heartbroken by a few things in this movie."
Composer Danny Elfman, reuniting with his Spider-Man director Raimi, pointed out that Wanda's story "is heartbreaking all the time."
"Without giving away too much, the heart of Wanda and Wanda's theme is about loss," Elfman said of his score, officially released in full online ahead of the film's Friday release in theaters. "She was such a great character to score and to follow. ... I never got tired of watching her."
Teased Olsen, who went from an enemy manipulated by Ultron (James Spader) to one of Earth's mightiest heroes in the Avengers franchise, "I don't think grief is something that you move on from. It's something you just learn to live with."
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Xochitl Gomez, with Michael Stühlbarg and Rachel McAdams, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opens May 6.