Which Marvel movies and shows should you watch before Doctor Strange 2? It’s a fair question. Before heading to the cinema, plenty of you are preparing for a refresher on what came before – especially as so many stories seemingly intertwine in the Marvel Phase 4 sequel.
The good news is, despite Multiverse of Madness being a sprawling adventure, you won’t need to rewatch the entire MCU before Doctor Strange 2. There are, however, several key Marvel movies and shows that you should binge before you head off to theaters.
In our spoiler-free guide, we’ll offer our expert opinions on each of the movies and shows you should watch before Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, why they shouldn’t be skipped, and how they can deepen your understanding of what’s to come.
This one is a no-brainer. 2016’s Doctor Strange introduces audiences to Benedict Cumberbatch’s neurosurgeon-turned-sorcerer and his supporting cast of characters. They include love interest Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), sorcerer Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), and mystic librarian Wong (Benedict Wong). Three of those four are confirmed to appear in the sequel, making this an essential chapter in the lead-up to Multiverse of Madness.
Doctor Strange also marks the MCU’s turn into the more magic-heavy elements of comic book movies, including kaleidoscopic sequences, astral projections, and more mystic powers and themes that will be built upon in Multiverse of Madness. Alongside our next entry, this is the MCU project to watch if you haven’t seen it yet – or just want a taster on how far the good doctor has come since his big-screen debut.
Scarlet Witch was left in a pretty bad way following the events of Avengers: Endgame. Her lover, Vision, was killed five years prior at her own hand to stop Thanos grabbing an Infinity Stone – something which he did anyway.
WandaVision deals with Wanda’s grief in the weeks following her return in Endgame. She takes over the picturesque town of Westview, conjuring up an idyllic life for her, a revived Vision, and her two ‘children.’
Along the way, those outside (and inside) Westview attempt to manipulate Wanda for their own ends. Blinded by her own grief, she later discovers more about her magical powers – as well as completes a personal arc that is crucial knowledge heading into Doctor Strange 2. Multiverse of Madness is, in effect, a follow-up to WandaVision.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Spider-Man: No Way Home is where we last saw Doctor Strange. The now ex-Sorcerer Supreme (Wong has taken up the gig after Stephen was dusted) helps everyone forget that Peter Parker was Spider-Man using a dangerous spell.
Unfortunately, Pete interrupts the incantation, and the multiverse comes crashing down into the MCU. While Doctor Strange is (literally) tied up for half the movie, he comes to save the day, sending several classic Spider-Man villains back through the cracks in the multiverse and back to their own realities. It’s a cataclysmic situation that has serious ramifications – and weigh heavily on Stephen Strange – in the Multiverse of Madness.
This one isn’t as crucial as the others, but the sequel is called Multiverse of Madness and What…If? – the animated Disney Plus series – offers the greatest exploration on how creative and chaotic the multiverse can be.
In it, multiple variations of classic characters (different designs, alliances, and so on) are present in different universes. Each episode takes a scenario – what if a universe was overrun by zombies, for instance – and runs with how small changes to established stories can change everything dramatically.
One episode even involves a darker Doctor Strange being consumed by the death of Christine and retreating deeper and deeper into forbidden magic to bring back his girlfriend. What If…? should offers valuable insight into the themes of the Doctor Strange sequel – and the exact intricacies of how the multiverse works in practice.
Like What… If, Loki is a great way for more casual Marvel fans to comprehend the pretty mind-bending concept of the multiverse (and all the baggage that comes with it) before Doctor Strange 2.
While the story does not directly tie in, Loki’s dealings with the Time Variance Authority after he swipes the Space Stone during the events of Avengers: Endgame soon unravel into a beautiful mess of variants, major revelations, and greater exposition of how separate universes work in the framework of the MCU. It’s also written by Michael Waldron, who penned Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. For a peek into how his mind works, you could do a lot worse than hopping through time and space with the God of Mischief.
Want more on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? Then check out our guides to:
- Doctor Strange 2 ending explained
- Doctor Strange 2 post-credits scenes explained
- When is Doctor Strange 2 on Disney Plus?
- The Illuminati in Doctor Strange 2, listed and explained
- How to watch the Marvel movies in order
- All the Doctor Strange 2 Easter eggs listed
- Our full WandaVision recap
- Is Doctor Strange 2 too scary for children?
- Where Doctor Strange 2 fits on the Marvel timeline