‘Doctor Strange 2’ to Set Up ‘Time Runs Out’ as Next Big Threat in MCU?

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is likely to be the most integral of Phase 4 films, as all signs indicate the installment will lay the groundwork for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). 

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange
Benedict Cumberbatch is seen filming ‘Doctor Strange’ | Michael Stewart/GC Images

As Marvel introduced the Infinity Stones gradually, building to Thanos acquiring each and rising to power across several films, Multiverse of Madness will be the first step in “the evolution of the MCU,” as Feige recently explained. Meaning, the film will begin to lay the foundation for the next “big threat;” however, this time around, the threat may not be a big baddie, but a big bad predicament. Kevin Feige recently stated:

I always wanted to do time travel, which we finally got to do in Endgame. The multiverse is the next step in the evolution of the MCU and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is going to crack it open in ways that will have repercussions for a Disney+ series before it that’s not WandaVision and for movies after it in a big fun way.

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Based on Kevin Feige’s words, as well as multiple outlets reporting that Secret Wars will be the next significant Avengers mash-up — way down the line somewhere in Phase 6 or so – it seems that a particular narrative will have to unfold for such a sequence events to transpire. As for that specific narrative, the ‘Time Runs Out’ arc seems the most plausible. The Times Runs Out storyline also presents a foe in the form of multiple earths — which to protect, which to let die… 

‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’  and ‘Time Runs Out’

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will likely deal with the fractured realities Wanda’s mind creates in WandaVision. Many have presumed — based on the I Love Lucy nostalgia vibe the show keeps pushing down our throats — that WandaVision will follow the narrative put forth in the House of M Comics. In this story, Wanda creates a reality in which Vision is still alive, which messes with the world at large. 

Strange will then come in to save the day; however, it’s possible that the cracks in reality spell danger too large for Strange to curb, leaving multiple realities spiraling out of control and building to the ‘Time Runs Out’ narrative, which a Reddit user recently explained in a multiverse discussion

There’s a very high concept…storyline called Time Runs Out. Basically, the idea is that the multiverse is collapsing and the different realities are merging together… except it’s more a collision centred on earth, and if one of the earths isn’t destroyed both realities are destroyed.

To set that up, the equivalents of the Infinity Stones would be the members of the Illuminati (which may or may not be comics accurate). You’d start by getting the characters in universe (atm we’ve only got T’Challa and Doctor Strange since Tony’s dead) and then you’d transition into showing them doing less… heroic things. So, for example, if Namor’s introduced as a villain, you might have characters co-operate with Namor. Then, you’d bring the characters together to act as the Illuminati (definitely including Namor) and finally you’d do two-three movies on the incursions (and the titular Time Runs Out notion… i.e. two universes left).

Reddit User 

Marvel Studios never follow the comic book plot trajectory exactly, which is why — given WandaVision and Multiverse of Madness — this story seems like a good fit, as a few needed adjustments for the MCU’s present timeline seem easily accessible. Marvel is already working on cementing the multiverse and Wanda is already fragmenting reality as we speak (or so fans have been led to believe).