Are the Marvel movies about to go apeshit bananas? The director of the new Doctor Strange flick is suddenly superhero impresario Sam Raimi, and because of all the crazy crossover stuff that’s happened with Spider-Man in the past few years, it feels like the Marvel movies are poised to bring back all sorts of retro Spider-Man stuff. But, now that Raimi is back directing Marvel movies (after a 13-year break) does that mean Tobey Maguire could return too?
This week, in an interview with ComicBook.com, Sam Raimi confirmed that, yes, he is taking the place of Scott Derrickson, who was previously going to direct an in-development Marvel movie called Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Effectively, the Multiverse of Madness is “Doctor Strange Part 2,” but because Benedict Cumberbatch’s goateed Sorcerer Supreme was such a big deal in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, this movie will very likely be a confluence of a bunch of different Marvel stuff. The clue is right there in the title: Multiverse of Madness. “Multiverse” implies a ton of crossovers and alternate realities, and “Madness” means it’s going to be fucking nuts.
Sam Raimi confirms he's directing 'Doctor Strange 2' after reminiscing on Doctor Strange's nod in 'Spider-Man 2'
'Coincidentally that line was in the movie…wish we had the foresight to know I was going to be involved in the project'
— Fandom (@getFANDOM) April 14, 2020
From a legal perspective, the character of Spider-Man (and Tom Holland in partricular) is kind of “on loan” from Sony to Marvel Studios, for a finite number of films before both studios will have to renegotiate. Now, it’s not a foregone conclusion that Spider-Man will appear in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but if you’re going to hire Sam “Spider-Man” Raimi to direct the movie, it seems like an insane waste of time to not have Spidey (or multiple Spideys) swing into the film. Thor: Ragnarok heavily relied on some buddy comedy action with the Hulk, and even Spider-Man: Homecoming found Spidey teaming up with Iron Man. If Doctor Strange is lost in the multiverse, seems like running into Spidey is a good bet. And that probably means Tom Holland. But if it’s a multiverse, it could mean Tobey Maguire too.
But there’s more. In case you forgot (or aren’t in your mid-to-late 30s) Sam Raimi is the guy who directed three Spider-Man movies in the early aughts. Two of those movies are good, and by all accounts, 2004’s Spider-Man 2 (co-written by cool dad Michael Chabon) is a certified classic. There’s also a great and hilarious scene in Spider-Man 2 in which crooked newspaperman J. Jonah Jameson tries to come up with a name for “Doc Ock” and one of his assistants (Ted Raimi) suggests “Dr. Strange.” Jameson says, “Pretty good. But it’s taken.”
Obviously, in the context of a pre-MCU 2004 Marvel movie, making a joke about Dr. Strange is just that, a joke. But now, it suddenly has a deeper significance. Our contemporary Spidey, Tom Holland, knows Dr. Strange very well. And, at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home, J.K. Simmons reprised his role as a new version of J. Jonah Jameson, who, in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe, is also determined to muddy Spider-Man’s good name. So, if J. Jonah Jameson is back in the mix, and he looks exactly how he looked in the Raimi movies, now that Raimi is back directing a Marvel movie, it feels like it would only take a flick of a spider-wrist to construct a web that leads all the way back to 2002.
We’re not saying Tobey Maguire or Kirsten Dunst will return for Doctor Strange 2, but if they did, the only thing we’re demanding is an emo Peter Parker dance sequence.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is scheduled to hit theaters on May 7, 2021.