Marvel fans tend to go more than a little nuts right before the release of a new Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. It’s perhaps no surprise then that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is truly driving fan theorists and alleged media leakers bonkers.
The Doctor Strange sequel, which also closely connects to the events of the WandaVision TV show and Spider-Man: No Way Home, hits theaters on May 6. Given that the MCU (and seemingly all of pop culture) is currently obsessed with the idea of multiverses and the possibility that alternate and/or past versions of familiar characters might make an appearance, it stands to reason that fans are expecting some exciting cameos in Multiverse of Madness — especially after No Way Home brought two previous Spider-Men and Netflix’s Daredevil into MCU canon. These expectations were heightened to an absurd degree when the second trailer for the movie seemed to imply that Patrick Stewart would be reprising his role as Professor X from the X-Men movies. Once that happened, the floodgates were open. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness also underwent fairly extensive reshoots, and it’s not unthinkable that Marvel Studios would want to juice up the number of cameos given how excited they seem to get fans.
Since then, there has been a ton of speculation — some of which is supported by alleged leaks of dubious quality — that all sorts of characters and unexpected actors will appear in the upcoming film. Before we enter the Multiverse of Madness, let’s take a minute to go over the rumored cameos in the movie, roughly ranked by how likely they are to take place. We’re not going to get too deep into the weeds of where alleged leaks come from or how reputable they are. Instead, we’re just going to catalog the various possibilities. Separating the possible from the probable is a maddening task.
In other words, if we say a cameo is unlikely to occur but then that person ends up in the movie, after all, rest assured: In another universe, our prediction was correct.
Patrick Stewart as Professor X
This cameo has been confirmed, but it’s still somewhat shocking. The Super Bowl trailer featured a scene where Doctor Strange is led before some sort of tribunal by some Ultron-looking robots. Then, we hear a familiar voice say “We should tell him the truth” and we get just the slightest glimpse of a familiar bald head and earlobe. It had to be Patrick Stewart reprising his role as Professor Xavier of the X-Men. Shortly after the trailer aired, the actor went ahead and confirmed it — something Andrew Garfield probably wished he could’ve done months and months ago.
Presumably, the Professor X we’ll be seeing in Doctor Strange is a “new” version of the X-Men character from some as-yet-unseen multiverse that resembles the canon of the X-Men movies but maybe isn’t exactly the same, seeing as Professor X died (twice?) in the earlier movies. It appears that Doctor Strange will be brought before the MCU’s version of the Illuminati, a group of the smartest heroes who formed a shadowy group to help protect (or perhaps control) the world. The comic team’s lineup featured Doctor Strange, Professor X, Iron Man, Professor Fantastic, the Inhuman leader Black Bolt, and Namor the Submariner. Assuming what we’re seeing in the trailer is the MCU’s version of the Illuminati, there are bound to be some adaptational changes, seeing as it appears to be a multiversal oversight group. The membership will probably be different (don’t count on the Inhumans popping back up after the flop of the ABC TV show), but it seems likely that we’ll be seeing familiar characters confront Doctor Strange — though they might be different versions of those characters, played by different actors. This is where most of the cameo rumors come into play.
Lashana Lynch as Captain Marvel
There’s a shot in a trailer that seems to show Wanda fighting Captain Marvel.. or somebody who has her powers. However, it doesn’t look like it’s Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers — the version of Captain Marvel we’re familiar with in the main MCU canon. There’s speculation that this is an alternate universe version of Captain Marvel, perhaps one who is a member of the Illuminati. It’s thought that this could be a Captain Marvel from a reality where Carol’s friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) got those powers instead of her. (There are also theories that say the Captain Marvel in the trailer is Maria’s daughter Monica, who appeared as an adult in WandaVision as played by Teyonah Parris. This seems less likely, especially as Monica is already slotted to have a feature role in the Captain Marvel sequel, The Marvels, while Maria’s story is over in the main canon.)
Given that it sure seems like Wanda is battling a Captain Marvel, call this cameo probable. Lynch reprising her role as Maria Rambeau would make sense, as it’s an “alternate” but the still-familiar version of an established character.
Haley Atwell as Captain Carter
A couple of the cameo rumors are being fueled by one poster. If you look in one of the glass shards in the bottom right corner of the poster, there’s a version obvious reflection of what sure looks like Captain Carter’s shield. Captain Carter made her debut in the animated multiversal anthology series What If…? on Disney+. Voiced by Haley Atwell — who played Agent Carter in the main MCU timeline and who would presumably play her again in Doctor Strange — Captain Carter hailed from a reality where she, not Steve Rogers, took the supersoldier serum.
What If…? ended with an episode where Captain Carter and other heroes from various episodes’ realities — including a power-mad version of Doctor Strange known as Strange Supreme who certainly seems to be in Multiverse of Madness — teamed up to fight an Infinity Stone-powered Ultron. Given that Strange Supreme seems to be in the movie, it wouldn’t be too shocking if another What If…? character made it as well, and evidence leans towards Captain Carter.
Some fans point to a tweet from the official Italian Disney+ promotional Twitter account that implied confirmation that Captain Carter would be in the movie. It’s possible, but it’s also possible that the person who ran the Italian-language Disney+ Twitter account just thought of a good tweet that would build off of fan speculation and get a lot of engagement. That’s maybe more likely than one Italian social media person having insider knowledge of the next MCU movie’s big secret and to be the one who gets to tweet out official confirmation.
Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool
The Captain Carter shield is pretty obviously in the poster. However, you have to squint a lot harder to see Deadpool’s face, as some people are alleging they see.
It’s possible, sure. After acquiring Fox, the studio behind the two R-rated Ryan Reynolds movies, Disney confirmed that they are making more Deadpool movies. Deadpool 3 will be directed by Ryan’s Free Guy and The Adam Project collaborator Shawn Levy, and it will be part of the MCU canon, somehow. It wouldn’t be the wildest thing if Marvel Studios used Doctor Strange’s multiversal madness to introduce The Merc With a Mouth to the MCU, seeing as the stakes are already all over the place. Still, you really gotta try to see Deadpool’s reflection in that shard, so this cameo doesn’t seem nearly as sure as Captain Carter’s. Could happen, but don’t hold your breath.
Tom Cruise as Iron Man???
This is where the cameos start to get even more speculative or reliant on so-called leaks that may be a bunch of made-up bogus to fool rubes. Given that the Super Bowl trailer showed Doctor Strange being escorted by what look like variants of Ultron, it stands to reason that Iron Man is a member of the Illuminati. He was a core member of the comics group, too.
But, if Robert Downey Jr. isn’t coming back to reprise the role (and he shouldn’t, frankly, as a cheap cameo would undermine the impact of his exit in Endgame,) then who will play Tony Stark? If rumored leaks are to be believed, Tom Cruise. Why Cruise? Well, because he came close to playing Tony Stark before Downey was eventually cast in 2008’s Iron Man.
Having Cruise appear as the character he almost maybe played would be a fun little casting joke, but it seems doubtful that a star of Cruise’s caliber would swing by for a cameo like this. Again, it still could happen, but there’s really no reason to believe this will be the case.
John Krasinski as Mr. Fantastic
Sigh… is this WandaVision all over again? Seeing as Mr. Fantastic is the leading member of the Illuminati, there’s naturally speculation that the Fantastic Four patriarch will appear in Doctor Stange. Speculation and alleged leaks claim that he’ll be played by A Quiet Place’s John Krasinski, as he’s frequently fan-cast as the stretchy genius. The “evidence” for this one pretty much just boils down to a couple of so-called leakers’ tweets, so take it with a fantastic amount of salt. Still, it could happen, though it might be a little weird if an alt-universe Mr. Fantastic shows up in Doctor Strange before we know anything about the announced MCU Fantastic Four movie.
Somebody New as Wolverine
Another supposed insider tweeted that Wolverine will be in the movie, too, only he won’t be played by Hugh Jackman. Wolverine is a massively popular character and he will 100 percent return to screens once the MCU really gets the X-Men going. However, it seems highly unlikely that this cameo will be the place where Disney reveals the “new” Wolverine. Plus, Wolverine is not what one would call a “brainy” superhero, meaning there’s not really a place for him among the Illuminati’s ranks. He’s the best at what he does, but what he does isn’t this, bub.
Nick Cage as Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider, the superhero whose whole deal is being a motorcycle-riding skeleton whose head is one fire, has no real comics connection to the multiverse nor to the Illuminati. However, there were Ghost Rider movies before, so naturally, fans are theorizing that Nicholas Cage will return to reprise his role. Cage has denied this, and while he could be lying, Garfield-style, it seems much more likely that he’s telling the truth because there’s no obvious story reason why Ghost Rider would need to appear in Doctor Strange. One supposed leak says Ghost Rider will be “freed from a spiritual prison.” Again, that’s possible, sure, but there’s already so much going on in this movie. Does there really need to be a Ghost Rider F-plot?
Also, there already was a Ghost Rider in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series. Dunno if that matters.
Charlize Theron as Clea
In the comics, Clea is the Sorcerer Supreme from the Dark Dimension — think of her as Doctor Strange’s dimensional counterpart. A member of the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ stunt crew posted an Instagram photo of Doctor Strange #48 with the caption “When the director gives you some of his reference materials as a wrap gift.” Since Clea is a major character in the issue, fans have taken this to mean that shell be in the movie. Why else would it have been reference material?
Additionally, there’s word that Charlize Theron will play Clea. It’s possible, though given that Clea has the potential to be a major new character rather than a surprise cameo, it seems odd that Theron’s involvement would be kept a secret.
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
One so-called leaker says Tom Hiddleston’s Loki will be in the movie but another says nobody from the Disney+ show will be. They can’t both be right, which really calls into question just how confident people should be in leakers.
Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man
We just did this, also Sony still owns the film rights to Spidey which makes the prospect of throwing a web-slinger in a Disney-made MCU movie a much more complicated prospect.
A Bunch of Other People Who Aren’t Really Worth Mentioning
Look here’s a really comprehensive Reddit post that compiles pretty much all of the supposed leaks. Some of them are probably accurate, though whether that’s because of insider knowledge or luck is up for debate. Read them all, though, and your brain kinda starts to turn into mush. Some sound absurd, others too good to be true. Many contradict each other. There are almost certainly spoilers in here, but there’s also a lot of nonsense. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness comes out in two weeks, and chances are there will be legit spoilers sooner than that after the press previews.
Do you guys remember the lead-up to Avengers: Infinity War? There were so many rumors about the X-Men and the Netflix characters and God knows who else appearing in the movie. I had a stress dream that I was seeing the movie and Wolverine and Deadpool were just casually in it, and I woke up briefly concerned that I was going to have to eat crow. Not sure why I’m thinking about that, right now. Probably just a coincidence.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on May 6.