The Marvel Studios presentation at Comic-Con International was chock-full of surprises, from Mahershala Ali being cast as Blade to Natalie Portman's return as Jane Foster -- and the Mighty Thor, no less! -- in Thor: Love and Thunder. While those may have stolen the show, an under-the-radar announcement may tease a major change to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While promoting their newly titled sequel Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, director Scott Derrickson and star Benedict Cumberbatch were joined on stage by a surprise guest, Scarlet Witch actress Elizabeth Olsen, who will accompany the Sorcerer Supreme on his journey. On paper, the addition of Wanda Maximoff may seem like a run-of-the-mill MCU team-up, but it could lead to her becoming closer to her comic-book counterpart.
Since Wanda's introduction in the post-credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, her superhuman abilities have been ill-defined. As the audience understands it, she's a product of Hydra experiments with the Mind Stone, which imbued her with a swath of vague powers: psionic energy manipulation, telepathy, telekinesis, and so on. But other than a few quick lines of exposition, Wanda's powers have been more or less unexplored in the MCU. With Phase Four now revealed, it's clear that's about to change.
Scarlet Witch will lead her own Disney+ series, WandaVision, which will pick up after the events of Avengers: Endgame, and address her grief following the death of the Vision (Paul Bettany). It's already been revealed that WandaVision will have a 1950s aesthetic, fueling speculation that Wanda creates a reality for herself in which Vision is still alive and they're living happily.
If that is the case, it would be a major step for the development of Wanda's powers. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige also teased that WandaVision will allow Wanda to earn the name Scarlet Witch, which she has yet to be referred to as in the MCU. With all of that in mind, it's safe to assume the series will delve into the growth of Wanda's abilities, which may be where Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness comes in.
If the Doctor Strange sequel deals directly with the events of the Disney+ series, it's more than likely going to involve Wanda manipulating reality, which is an ability featured prominently in Marvel comics. As fun as a routine team-up between Strange and Scarlet Witch would be, that doesn't appear to be what Marvel Studios is providing us. As was clearly stated in Infinity War, Doctor Strange will protect his reality under any circumstance, even against an ally, if he deems it necessary.
In the comics, Scarlet Witch is the daughter of Magneto, making her a mutant. Her abilities include matter manipulation, teleportation, energy projection, and finally, reality-warping, which was made famous during the House of M storyline. Since the character debuted in 1964, Wanda has had a difficult time controlling her powers, especially when dealing with grief. On more than one occasion, she's killed people close to her after losing control.
Wanda could very well lose control of her abilities in the MCU while grappling with the death of Vision in WandaVision, and alter reality. Doctor Strange then catches wind of this disturbance and agrees to train her, something that has been done in the comics. Under the guidance of Strange, Wanda would have the opportunity to harness her powers and begin mirroring the force of nature she is in the source material.
Having Scarlet Witch travel throughout the multiverse could tease the additions of mutants, further pushing Wanda toward her comic roots. Fan theories on how mutants will join the MCU have been rampant since the Disney/Fox merger was announced, and each one is as good a guess as the last. So why not use a Doctor Strange sequel to plant the seeds for the introduction of the X-Men?
Directed by Scott Derrickson, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen. The film hits theaters on May 7, 2021.