Deep Dive: Who’s in Doctor Strange 2

I’ve been working on this post for a while, but a busy life has prevented me from finishing it until now.

When I began writing this post, IMDB only listed 8 major cast members for Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. And none of them are a surprise if you watched the Super Bowl trailer. Even so, here is your customary SPOILER WARNING:

This post contains possible and even probable SPOILERS for Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. Additionally,  this post may contain SPOILERS for Spider-Man: No Way Home and the Loki, WandaVision, Hawkeye and What If? Marvel television series. (There’s a lot going on here.)

Read something else if that bothers you.

– Your friendly neighborhood Tony Breeden

Now back in February, IMDB listed the following major cast members:

  • Benedict Cumberbatch – Dr. Stephen Strange
  • Elizabeth Olsen – Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
  • Xochitl Gomez – America Chavez
  • Patrick Stewart
  • Rachel McAdams – Dr. Christine Palmer
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor – Mordo
  • Benedict Wong – Wong
  • Michael Stuhlbarg – Dr. Nicodemus West

Others have been added since then, but let’s go over this list first.

Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch is obviously playing Doctor Stephen Strange,  and if you’ve paying attention to the trailers, posters and other merchandise at all you know he is playing several variants of that character, including Sinister Strange, Defender Strange and possibly a Zombie Strange. It’s important to note here that Sinister Strange does not appear to be the same evil Doctor Strange we saw in the What If? series.

That variant was cited as Supreme Strange. So this version, Sinister Strange, who utters the memorable line “Things just got out of hand” in the trailer, may not be as evil as Marvel let’s on. Likewise Zombie Strange appears to be someone Defender Strange (whom some speculate might be the true villain of the film) turns into. Perhaps his (mis)use of chaos magic unleashes the quantum virus mentioned in the What If? series’ zombie episode, because it doesn’t seem to just affect Strange. Defender Strange also shows up imprisoned before a weird otherworldly entity with America Chavez. I believe both are being held by the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak,  last seen used by Strange against Thanos in Infinity War. And that would make the creature they’re facing Cyttorak himself! If Defender Strange turns out to be the film’s villain and he has designs on using America Chavez’ interdimensional powers, that can’t be good for her.

Of course,  it’s also entirely possible that people are reading too much into the trailers. In the comics, Defender Strange is part of the Defenders, a team originally consisting of high-powered heavy hitters including Strange, Hulk, Namor and the Silver Surfer. This is not to be confused with the street level Defenders of Netflix. The bottom line is that Defender Strange is a hero on a team of heroes. It makes no sense to call him Defender Strange and make him the villain.

In fact the only reason people seem to think that Defender Strange specifically (out of all possible variants) might be the villain is because it appears to be Defender Strange who turns into a zombie (and this could be a horrible fate a hero is suffering as easily as a purposeful move by a villain)…

…and because of a particular piece of dialog in the trailer in which Scarlet Witch says, “You break the rules and become the hero. I do it and I become the enemy. That doesn’t seem fair.”

Almost no one supposes Wanda will end up being the good guy here, mostly because she’s using the Darkhold at the end of WandaVision when she hears the voices of the children who faded away with Westview. That book is influencing her. The implications of her words is that Strange similarly breaking the rules might’ve caused folks to perceive him as a hero, but he’s not. Not really.

And something definitely happens. In the trailer, we hear Wong warning, “Don’t cast that spell. It’s too dangerous.” In other trailers we hear Strange being told that he’s the villain here and that he has to pay for his crimes. This might be why he’s seen handcuffed and brought before what most of us presume is Marvel’s Illuminati (more on that later).

But is he really the villain? I don’t think so. Both Strange and Wanda are having dreams that turn to nightmares. My guess is that OG Doctor Strange and Wanda Maximoff are heroes against villainous variants of themselves.

Elizabeth Olsen

This is much a Scarlet Witch movie as it is a Doctor Strange film. Elizabeth Olsen reprises her role as Wanda Maximoff  aka the Scarlet Witch. It looks like she will be picking up the plot line from WandaVision, looking for the kids she gave birth to and lost in that series, as teased by the end credits scene of the final episode.

Wanda is definitely reading the Darkhold, which means she is likely being influenced by it. Multiple sources have confirmed that she’s playing both the OG Wanda and variants of the character.  We’ve seen Zombie Scarlet Witch in the trailers and I think we’re also seeing a Sinister Scarlet Witch variant akin to Sinister Strange.

Xochitl Gomez

Xochitl Gomez will be introducing us to America Chavez, also known as Ms. America. According to the comics, Chavez hails from the Utopian Parallel. Maybe. Either her parents, Elena and Amalia Chavez, are aliens from another universe or humans from this one who too their daughter to a billionaires island to.cure her of Edges Syndrome, but then died in a catastrophic explosion trying to save her and her sister.

Either way, Ms. America creates Star Portals that allow her to travel to different dimensions. I’m sure this ability will play heavily into the plot.

Patrick Stewart

While Patrick Stewart was listed early amongst the top cast on IMDB, it took a while for Marvel to officially confirm that Patrick Stewart will be playing Charles Xavier aka Professor X, even though Stewart’s unmistakable voice was heard offscreen in the Super Bowl trailer.

The scene in question invokes Marvel’s Illuminati, traditionally consisting of Professor X (representing the X-men and Mutants in general), Namor the Submariner (representing Atlantis), Black Panther (representing Wakanda), Black Bolt (representingthe Inhumans), Mr. Fantastic (representing the Fantastic Four), Iron Man (representing the Avengers), and Dr. Strange (representing the mystical forces and supernatural elements of the Marvel universe). Strange 2 producer Richie Palmer warned in May 2022’s Empire Magazine that, “I will say that I love the Illuminati. But if we ever introduce the Illuminati in the future, it might be more MCU-driven and have some more ties to our characters in the MCU, versus just replicating what’s in the comics.”

Maybe, but ScreenGeek has confirmed that Anson Mount will be reprising his role (or a variabt of that role) from the ABC series The Inhumans as Black Bolt.

Some of the current fan speculation as to possible members of the Illuminati are based on both the MCU and the knowledge that the X-men and Fantastic Four are eventually joining the MCU.

Palmer also warns that this Professor X not be the version we met in the previous X-men movies.

“I’ll quote the first X-Men movie and say, ‘Are you sure you saw what you saw?’ There are infinite versions of these characters, and just because you may have heard something familiar doesn’t mean it’s someone you have seen before.”

Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong and Michael Stuhlbarg

Rachel McAdams returns to reprise her role as Dr. Christine Palmer, and I initially thought it looked like she will be marrying Michael Stuhlbarg‘s Dr. Nicodemus West in the film; however, a quick glimpse of West is seen next to Strange as Palmer walks down the aisle to her new husband.

Furthermore, in one scene we have a wedding invitation showing that this is the wedding of Christian & Charles (with the last name conveniently edited out). Wouldn’t it be a hoot if she were marrying Charles Xavier? Perhaps a variant of the James McAvoy version?

We know from the trailers that McAdams plays at least one Illuminati Palmer variant of the character, since she is seen as a warden of sorts over what appear to be the Illuminati’s prison holding cells. Chiwetel Ejiofor will be reprising his role as Karl Mordo with an Illuminati-related variant. Benedict Wong will be playing the familiar Wong as well as at least one variant, Defender Wong.

Bruce Campbell

It looks like Bruce Campbell was recently added to IMDB’s official cast list for the movie, where he’s allegedly playing himself. Yeah, maybe. Sam Raimi is directing this film and Campbell appeared in all three of the Tobey MacGuire Spider-Man films that Raimi directed in cameo roles. Campbell himself has repeatedly teased an appearance in Doctor Strange 2, going so far as to  say:

“I did a cool scene with a character that’s been beloved for years, and…we’ll have to see what ends up in the movie. I don’t know if it’s still in there. It’s a pretty cool part.”

While he may be talking about a scene with a beloved Marvel character here, he may also be talking about one of his own beloved characters, namely Ashly Williams of the Evil Dead franchise. Or didn’t you know that there was a Marvel/Evil Dead crossover once upon a time?

In fact, Kevin Feige heavily implied the Evil Dead connection in the May 2022 issue of Empire Magazine, saying, “We want it to be a Sam Raimi movie. We would give notes like, ‘This action is cool — you’re competing with Avengers and Spider-Man, no problem — but don’t forget the Sam Raimi parts.’ You will see just how Sam Raimi it is, in ways that will make fans of Evil Dead II very happy.”

In my honest opinion,  Campbell is either going to play himself as an actor trying to deal with both the undead and fan expectations,  or Ash is going to make an appearance. I think we’re all rooting for the guy to have a chainsaw hand. If not, a reborn cameo of one of his previous characters from the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy is likely.

Jett Klyne & Julian Hubbard (Wanda’s Children)

Before the final trailer confirmed their appearance in Strange 2 and their officially names were added to IMDB, Billy/Wiccan (Jett Klyne) and Tommy/Speed (Julian Hilliard) were spotted on a large farm known as Burrow Hill Cider Farm, which acts as a stand-in for Wanda’s home at the start of the film. I predicted that they would make an appearance based on the end credits scene in the final episode of WandaVision, noting that IMDB’s Strange 2 full cast and crew at that time listed Richard Blenkiron as a child stand-in and Julie Stell as a Studio Teacher, so there were definitely child actors in this film and it was likely that Speed and Wiccan would appear in this film in some capacity. I mean, in the WandaVision end credits scene in question, Wanda is studying the Darkhold when she hears the voices of her children. This scene strongly implies that reclaiming her lost children would be her future motivation.

Owen Wilson, Sophia di Martino and Tom Hiddleston

When we take a look at the Stunt doubles, we get a few more answers.

The most important stunt double revealed so far must be Chris Brewster, stunt double for Owen Wilson, who plays Time Variance Authority agent Morbius M. Morbius in the Loki series. The TVA’s involvement suggests that Kang the Conqueror will make an appearance. It also suggests that we might be seeing a lot of variants of familiar characters, which the trailers have pretty much confirmed.

In fact, Sarah Irwin, stunt double for Sophia di Martino who plays female Loki variant Sylvie Lauffeydottir on the Loki series also appears on the list, making it clear that the movie will definitely cross paths with Loki and the TVA plot lines. And yes, Loki himself will be there too if the presence of Matt LaBorde, Tom Hiddleston‘s stunt double, is any indication.

Lashana Lynch

We have , the stunt double for Lashana Lynch who plays Monica Rambeau. The last time we saw that character was in WandaVision. She could be playing her established character Photon or she could be a variant Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau was one of the Captain Marvels in the comics and is slated to appear The Marvels too.

It looks like she’ll be going toe-to-toe with the Scarlet Witch!

Paul Rudd?

Mark Aaron Wagner has portrayed several different Marvel characters as a utility stunt performer, but he is best known for being the stunt double for Paul Rudd‘s Ant-Man. With Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania on the horizon, it’s possible Ant-Man will make an appearance in this film, though it’s also possible he’s just doing stunt utility work unrelated to that character.

Who is Elena?

Michaela McCallister is listed as the stunt double for “Elena”; however,  that might be not only vague but also misleading.

It’s important to note that McCallister is best known in the MCU as the double for Florence Pugh, who plays Yelena (not Elena) Belova, the Black Widow‘s sister who appeared in both Black Widow and the Hawkeye series. Unfortunately, the return of Pugh’s character in DS2 would only make sense if this movie’s secondary objective is to tie together all of the Marvel TV shows into the MCU proper. Having said that, I’m not sure there’s a realistic place for the new Widow in a multidimensional romp.

A secondy possibility is that Elena refers to the actress’ rather than the character’s name. Actress Elena Satine would fit in here nicely. Sabine played Lorelei in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It should be said from the outset that The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe denies that AoS is MCU canon; however, Marvel has already reused, redesigned and retconned several elements of the show. Most notably, an alternate version of the Darkhold made into WandaVision and us slated for a return in Doctor Strange 2, while Hawkeye retconned Laura Burton as Agent 19 aka Mockingbird. On the other hand, three notable non-Disney Marvel TV series characters have been introduced into the MCU.  The Story of Marvel Studios already confirmed that Agent Carter was still canon; however, the What If? series went a step further and gave us a variant Peggy Carter who unlike her Agent Carter character takes the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers, becoming Captain Carter. If Captain Carter emblem on the movie poster for Doctor Strange 2 is any indication, that version of Haley Atwell‘s character will be returning in this film. Vincent D’Onofrio‘s Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin made his transition into the MCU from the Daredevil series via Disney’s Hawkeye series. Meanwhile Charlie Cox‘s Matt Murdoch/Daredevil was brought over from the Daredevil series via cameo in Spider-man: No Way Home.

What all of that means for AoS fans is that it is entirely possible that Marvel could introduce a variant of Elena Satine’s Lorelei into the MCU in Doctor Strange 2. Honestly,  it would make a lot of sense, especially given that Loki series characters are slated to return, too, especially since Sylvie Lauffeydottir is loosely based on both Lady Loki from the comics and the Enchantress, the second of which was Sylvie Lushton (the first was Amora). In the comics, Lorelei is the sister of Amora the Enchantress but I can see Satine’s Enchantress being introduced as Sylvie Lauffeydottir’s sister instead with a similar set of powers. Even if her appearance were brief (and it’s significant enough for a stunt double), it would have intriguing implications for the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder.

There’s also the possibility that Elena refers to Elena Chavez, one of America Chavez’ parents. Both Elena and Amalia Chavez were killed helping America Chavez escape the Utopian Parallel. Frankly, this is the most likely possibility.

Victoria Sterling

Catherine Peck, stunt double for Victoria Sterling, also appears but we don’t know who Sterling is portraying yet.

Laura Dern

Charlotte Hayward is listed as the makeup artist for both Rachel McAdams and Laura Dern, though we don’t yet know who Dern’s playing.

Adam Hughill

The alien minotaur Rintrah appearing in the trailers appears to be played by Adam Hugill.

The Human Torch?

Elsewhere amongst the crew, Nicandor Mendoza III is listed as the costumer for the Human Torch. That’s right! The Fantastic Four are possibly making an entrance here! Of course, if it’s a Human Torch we’ve already seen, I’d love it if Chris Evans reprised the role!

Does this mean that John Krasinski will be cast as Mr. Fantastic and Emily Blunt as Susan Storm? Not necessarily. All we have are rumors and fancasting at this point.

Hayley Atwell

As already mentioned, according to the Strange 2 movie posters, we might see the return of What If?‘s Captain Peggy Carter, a version of the Peggy Carter character who took the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers.

There’s been no confirmation yet, but I certainly hope this one is true.

Ryan Reynolds

Deadpool looks like he’s appearing as a cameo, as another prisoner of the Illuminati, but that’s only according to an alleged unfinished VFX image and a partial image in a Doctor Strange poster that many think is Deadpool.

Ryan Reynolds denies that Deadpool is in the movie and in all likelihood the circulated photo is a fake.

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