Doctor Strange 2 Wong

In a world absolutely obsessed with spoilers, both creators and audiences are increasingly getting creative when it comes to avoiding them. For viewers who are hoping to avoid having things spoiled for major movies or TV shows, it can be about staying off of social media, muting certain words on the ol’ timeline, or just screaming at friends to shut up about something until they’ve had the chance to see it. Marvel Studios, it’s increasingly becoming a game of straight-up deception, as evidenced by "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness."

Director Sam Raimi’s return to superhero filmmaking within the confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe offered endless possibilities and the studio absolutely played with that in the marketing. So much so that they intentionally misled us multiple times. We’re going to go over some of the biggest deceptions in comparing the trailers to the actual film that recently arrived in theaters.

Warning: spoilers ahead for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." Proceed with caution.

Christine’s disappearance

Doctor Strange Multiverse Madness Christine

One key shot that was used a lot in the trailers and TV spots was of Strange, America Chavez, and Christine Palmer emerging from a door into a wild dimension within the multiverse. It’s a good trailer shot and its inclusion makes every bit of sense. But what’s interesting is that, in one particular TV spot, Rachel McAdams’ Christine was edited out of the shot entirely, leading to some raised eyebrows. Was this going to be a "Spider-Man: No Way Home" situation where they had to remove Andrew Garfield from the final fight scene in the trailer? In the end, Christine does appear in that scene and she is pretty crucial to the whole operation. The spot with her removed was either a mistake or an entirely intentional bit of deception.

The ties to Spider-Man: No Way Home

Spider-Man No Way Home Doctor Strange

Another thing that seemed to be teed up, particularly in the movie’s first teaser trailer, was that "Multiverse of Madness" would be tied heavily to "Spider-Man: No Way Home." Benedict Cumberbatch has a significant role in that film as well and tampered with the multiverse to try and help Tom Holland’s Peter Parker. It sort of seemed like that film’s tampering was going to pave the way for all of this multiversal madness. It’s remarkable how much that ended up not being the case. Though it is worth noting that, originally, "Multiverse of Madness" was supposed to come out before "No Way Home," and that may well have had something to do with it.

The connections to What If…?

Multiverse of Madness Sinister Strange

Another thing that the trailers led us to believe, what with the inclusion of the evil version of Doctor Strange and even Captain Carter, was that the ties to the animated series "What If…?" in this film were going to be deep and essential. At best, there were some Easter eggs in the form of characters that first appeared in the animated series but it could hardly be called essential viewing for moviegoers who wanted to be brought up to speed before seeing "Multiverse of Madness." Yet, it seemed Marvel really wanted to kind of push the "it’s all connected" idea in advance of the movie’s release, even if it wasn’t quite so connected in the end.

The Illuminati

Multiverse of Madness Illuminati

There is no question that dangling the inclusion of the Illuminati in the trailers was a big deal for hardcore Marvel fans, and it seriously got people talking. In the main trailer, Marvel really started to push this sequence by straight-up revealing that Patrick Stewart would be reprising his role as Professor X from the "X-Men" films. This set up all kinds of interesting prospects, in addition to being a very logical place to include some major cameos, which indeed happened. But the whole Illuminati element of this movie is over and done with in a matter of minutes because the movie’s secret villain (we’ll get to that in a minute) made quick work of killing every single one of them off. So congrats, Twitter. You got John Krasinski as Mr. Fantastic. It just didn’t last all that long.

Wong screaming ‘Strange!’

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

It’s not at all uncommon for actors to give multiple line readings within different takes in a film. A director can then later decide which one they want to go with and which one ultimately suits the final product in the editing room. As it relates to this movie, there is a moment where Benedict Wong’s Wong is hanging from a cliff and he screams "Strange!" at the top of his lungs, making it seem like he is in grave danger. However, in the movie itself, we get a different line reading and Wong is actually excited to see that Strange has shown up to the movie’s climactic battle in the possessed, reanimated version of his dead body from another universe. Be it intentional or not, this served as a deceptive moment as viewers likely thought Wong was in big trouble. Yet, he’s alive and well, and remains the Sorcerer Supreme.

Zombie Strange not being a villain

Multiverse of Madness zombie Strange

Speaking of zombie Strange, the trailers made it look very much like this variant of Doctor Strange was going to be a villain. The reanimated corpse, all of those extra arms, and that dark music from Danny Elfman. This seemed like Raimi through and through. Not to say that it wasn’t Raimi-esque in the end, it’s just that this version of Strange was actually heroic and helped to save the day during the final battle, rescuing American Chavez and Wong in the process. Earth-616’s Doctor Strange had to do a bit of dreamwalking to possess his corpse as it was the only option he had left, even if it meant using the Darkhold.

Wanda being the villain

Multiverse of Madness Elizabeth Olsen

This is the big fish here. This is the thing that Marvel was hiding in plain sight the whole time. The notion of, "who is going to be the main villain?" was left dangling during the entirety of the marketing process. No actor had been hired (that we knew of) as the big bad. So, was Marvel hiding a big reveal? In a way, they were but just not the kind that we were expecting.

It turns out that Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch, in the aftermath of "WandaVision," took a very villainous turn in no small part thanks to her use of the Darkhold. She wanted her kids back and she was going to find them somewhere within the multiverse. Nobody, not Doctor Strange, nor anyone else was going to stand in her way. The Darkhold had a hold of her and this resulted in a lot of bloodshed on Wanda’s part across multiple universes. Once an Avenger, now a very deadly foe. This was, indeed, a big twist and something that the brass at Marvel understandably wanted to keep under wraps until the time was right. But it was by far the biggest deception within the trailers, even if it is kind of obvious re-watching those trailers now after the fact.

The amount of multiversal madness

Doctor Strange 2 multiverse travel

Last, but certainly not least, even going back to when the title of this movie was revealed, it seemed like we were going to be in for a universe-hopping, wild ride within the MCU. In some ways, this movie does deliver on that promise but the trailers made it seem as though we were going to explore far more universes more thoroughly than we actually did. In the movie as it exists, the bulk of it is spent within Earth-616, the main MCU universe, and Earth-838, where the Illuminati exist. We take some brief (in some instances very brief) detours to other universes but, for the most part, we don’t properly explore any of them. Whether or not this was for the movie’s betterment or not is going to come down to the individual but the marketing did set a bit of a different expectation in that department from the jump.

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is in theaters now.