25 “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness” Behind-The-Scenes Facts From Writer Michael Waldron

by Ricardo Johnson

The big cameo moment in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness consisted of "piecing together" various shoots with the actors.

Michael Kovac / Getty Images for Disney / BuzzFeed

🚨There are MASSIVE — and yes, I mean MASSIVE — spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ahead!🚨

1. First, writer Michael Waldron said it was "fun and different" to go from writing Loki to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness , and it was interesting to play with the idea of the multiverse in a TV show format vs. a Sam Raimi film.

Marvel Studios / Disney+ / Everett Collection

"It was really a lot of lines on whiteboards," Michael said. "But it was fun and different. With Loki, we had six hours and we did something that was kind of like a dialogue-driven crime thriller. This is a Sam Raimi movie. A Sam Raimi monster movie in a lot of ways."

2. Since director Sam Raimi has such a distinct voice in the horror film genre, Michael and Sam worked to make sure Multiverse of Madness "deliberately" felt like a "campy" Raimi horror movie in a lot of places.

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Michael said, "So, it's fun to play with those different tones, but it was a blast. Your whole way through, you're just trying to keep it understandable for the audience and accessible to people who maybe haven't seen everything."

3. One of the most important things for Michael was making sure the film was still driven by the characters' stories, even though the scale was huge and dealt with the multiverse.

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"Just letting people be swept up in the character stories with Strange, Wanda, America, and others, more than any of the sci-fi jargon," Michael said.

4. While writing the film, Michael read "all the WandaVision scripts" and watched "early cuts" of episodes in order to fully understand Wanda Maximoff's journey in that series.

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"With WandaVision, I knew everything about it," Michael said. "So, I'd read all the WandaVision scripts before diving in and had watched several cuts throughout. I'm friends with Jac Schaeffer [who was the showrunner on WandaVision], so I knew what they were doing. So, of course, that informed Wanda's journey. We knew that this was the continuation of her story."

5. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness began filming while WandaVision was airing, so the cast and crew were slowly watching it become a "sensation" while working alongside Elizabeth Olsen and seeing everyone fall in love with Wanda Maximoff and her performance.

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"Even though I had a feeling WandaVision was going to be huge, I don't think we could've even predicted how much of a sensation it was going to be," Michael said. "We were already shooting as WandaVision was releasing, and then the pressure was really on to not screw it up. It was like, 'Great, and we're turning her into the Terminator now. I hope everybody forgives us for that.'"

6. Alongside knowing the story for WandaVision, Michael was also told what was going to happen in Spider-Man: No Way Home and how it would affect Doctor Strange's storyline and the MCU at large.

Marvel / Sony

Michael said, "With No Way Home, like our movie, both were constantly changing as we were shooting. I'm fortunately good friends with those writers as well, Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, I know them from my Community days. So we kept each other abreast of what was going on. Like alright, let's make sure we don't screw each other up here with what we're writing about the multiverse. So we generally knew what was going on."

7. Elizabeth wrapped filming on WandaVision a few days before flying to London to start filming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Michael explained that it was amazing to see her have "total ownership" of Wanda and the Scarlet Witch.

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"Lizzie's absolutely, supernaturally talented. She has total ownership over Wanda and the Scarlet Witch. Lizzie's been playing Wanda a lot longer than I've been writing her, and she was coming right off of WandaVision, literally wrapping filming on that like a few days before, so she was so in tune with where Wanda's story was," Michael said. "I really listened to her and tried to make sure that we weren't doing anything out of step with where she thought the character was on her journey."

8. Elizabeth gave Michael and others on the creative team a lot of feedback and notes on Wanda's journey in the film, and they even tweaked storylines and moments based on her suggestions.

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"To write for Lizzie Olsen is such a pleasure," Michael said. "She's become a great pal of mine. Lizzie's really just so great to collaborate with. She was very specific with her notes. There's so many moving parts that go into all of this, and she helped a lot."

9. In fact, one story element Michael collaborated with Lizzie a lot on was Wanda's ideas about being "reasonable" and calling out Doctor Strange for his actions that make him a hero but would make her a villain. Elizabeth wanted to make sure the audience could understand Wanda's actions.

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"Everything Wanda's talking about in the movie about being reasonable, you know, that was something that I felt like I really worked on with Lizzie to get it," Michael said. "It's like, after reading the Darkhold and after understanding her place and who she is supposed to be, Wanda really has an expanded notion of her place in the universe and who she's meant to be. And yet, all she really wants is to just go eat ice cream with her children. She's justifiably like, 'Look at the bad stuff that could happen if America, who looks like a kid but who is really a walking multiversal portal open, loses control.' So, it was always making sure that Wanda has a reasonable, defensible point of view every step of the way, as she's calling out hypocrisy from Strange and others."

10. Watching Elizabeth Olsen finally tackle the Scarlet Witch while on set was a highlight for Michael and the rest of the team, and he explained it as a "really physically grueling performance on top of the emotional stuff too."

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"To Lizzie's credit, she was such an amazing sport. She came in and we're obviously taking a big swing making the character the main villain. She's doing a lot of bad stuff in this movie. We worked with Lizzie to try and make sure there was justification for that built in," Michael said. "And then beyond that, just the fact that she had to shoot covered in oil, mud, and water. It was awesome to watch Lizzie go and just be an action hero, or action villain rather, through and through. Wanda's the hero of her own story in this one, and I'm proud of how Lizzie and I collaborated on it and brought her to life."

11. Michael said that working with Sam Raimi was one of the most collaborative experiences he's ever been part of, and he learned "a lifetime's worth from him about making film, about telling stories, about working with actors, and collaborating with an entire crew."

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"It was a blast. A dream come true," Michael said. "Sam's so great at getting the best out of everyone, and his entire process is so democratized. He's an amazing creator of horror moments, you know all the stuff we know him for, but I guess what people might not know is just what an absolutely ego-free, generous collaborator he is. He really is just a great example of how to treat people and how to make a massive and huge movie a pleasant experience."

12. And Michael was on set "the whole time" during filming, which took place in London during lockdown and then had reshoots in Los Angeles.

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He said, "I was there the whole time. Every step of the way, which was such an adventure. It felt like it belonged to all of us, it was a lot of fun."

13. In terms of which cameos would happen during the Illuminati scene, Michael described it as an "ever-moving target" of who was available, but the group of characters and actors who ended up on screen was beyond their "wildest dreams."

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"This is what I've said all day: The group that ended up on screen is beyond my wildest dreams. Like, that's the craziest lineup, right?" Michael said.

14. When coming up with which characters would be part of the Illuminati, it was all about figuring out which characters Doctor Strange would've conceivably trusted and invited to be part of this elite group.

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"Really, we tried to let it be rooted in what makes sense in the reality of Earth-838," Michael said. "If you were Stephen Strange constructing an Illuminati in this alternate universe, who would you invite to be part of it? So we let that drive the conversation."

15. While Patrick Stewart, John Krasinski, Hayley Atwell, Lashana Lynch, and Anson Mount shared every scene together, they were never all together filming. The finished product consisted of "piecing together" various shoots with these actors.

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"It was a lot of piecing together, because scheduling was so hard. We never had everybody all together," Michael said. "But there was a lot of collaboration individually between each actor, myself, and Sam, which was so great. Each one of these characters represented an individual thrill for the audience, and bringing that to life was special. It was also very generous on the part of these actors to step in and play that part, and to be dispatched by Scarlet Witch. It was very cool. We had a blast figuring out their individual histories in this group and thinking about what their dynamics were like. That whole sequence was just so much fun."

16. Writing Scarlet Witch absolutely destroying each Illuminati member was "awesome" for Michael, and he loved writing some "cold one-liners" that he knew Elizabeth Olsen would be able to deliver perfectly.

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He said, "It was awesome. By this point of the film, Wanda's like the Terminator or the queen xenomorph in Aliens. Like I said, there's nobody I'd rather write for than Lizzie Olsen, because you know it's going to be amazing. So giving her some cold one-liners was a lot of fun."

17. In fact, Wanda's now iconic "What mouth?" line that she utters before killing Black Bolt was something Sam Raimi came up with while thinking about how she could kill this character.

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"Sam Raimi gets all the credit for that," Michael said. "It was like, 'How do we do away with this character?' and Sam, as if it had been in his head his entire life, he suggested that line. As simply as it came to Wanda of how to dispatch Black Bolt, Sam came up with that idea and that's how we did it."

18. One of Michael's favorite moments from set was watching Xochitl Gomez film her first scenes with Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong, Lizzie Olsen, Rachel McAdams, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, and just seeing her hold her own alongside these "seasoned actors."

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"She's amazing. She walked onto the set with Benedict, Benny, Lizzie, Rachel, and Chiwetel, like all of these seasoned actors, and she came in and the moment was never too big for her. We never lost her personality and what makes Xochitl Xochitl, which is this big, likable, funny personality," Michael said.

19. Out of everything that happens in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, one of the things Michael is most excited to see continue is Xochitl's performance as America.

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He said, "Xochitl's fun personality was always there, even when she was having to play scenes with America's intense trauma, and that's so great because those are the shades of who that character will grow into and who fans of the character from the comics know. She had to do a lot of big stunts in this movie, swinging from wires and getting swung down, and being carried by a cloak and stuff. She was just so game for it all. She was a real pro and she's got a bright future in the MCU."

20. While Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness notably went through reshoots for a long time, not much of the story changed with them. Michael explained that the reshoots were all about adding to the already existing plot, not about fixing things.

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"The reshoots were always making it better. The movie didn't experience major surgery, really. It was also, 'How can we make it better? How can we trim it? How can we make it move?'" Michael said. "The movie is a chase through the multiverse. It never felt like the kind of movie to us that needed to be three hours long. So, there's some cool stuff that I don't wanna spoil that could show up in a deleted scene. My cameo was originally a little bit longer. I got to rip some lines with Rachel McAdams. That was fun."

21. While Wanda's story is left open-ended at the very end of the movie — listen, I don't believe for one second that she's dead — Michael hopes this isn't the end of her story in the MCU, considering "people love Wanda and Lizzie Olsen."

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"To that extent, it's open ended. Is that the end of the story? I don't know; it remains to be seen," Michael said. "But hopefully it gives some hope for the future, because I know the people love Wanda and Lizzie Olsen. As a fan, I want to see her continue with this character too."

22. In fact, something Michael loved about Wanda's sacrifice at the end of the movie is that it shows the Wanda we know and love has broken free of the Darkhold's control, and she does this very "heroic thing to protect Wanda Maximoffs across the multiverse."

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"I liked the notion that there, at the very end and seeing her kids, that that's Wanda seeing her kids. She has been the Scarlet Witch in this movie. Wanda Maximoff opened the Darkhold, as she admits, and that was her mistake. It consumed her and that got its hooks into her and she really became the Scarlet Witch," Michael said. "Think about if the Darkhold hadn't existed, our Wanda wouldn't have endured all of this. But at the end, Wanda comes back. In those final moments, she's the Wanda that we know and she does that heroic thing to protect Wanda Maximoffs across the multiverse."

23. Charlize Theron's epic introduction as Clea was something the creative team was shooting for, but they still couldn't believe they managed to have her sign on for the part.

24. And while there were "other versions" of Clea and Stephen's first scene together, it always came down to wanting to introduce this character now because Doctor Strange closed a chapter with Christine, and it was time to introduce this love interest from the comics.

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Michael explained, "There were other versions of that scene, but it always felt like Strange had closed the book on his relationship with Christine with the growth of, 'I have to open my heart. I can't be afraid to admit that I care about someone,' the way that he had been with Christine. And now, when he meets Clea, a character who is very much his equal in the comics, there's going to be some great adventures together."

25. And finally, two of Michael's favorite Easter eggs from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness are Rintrah, the green minotaur who is a Marvel comics character, and Sam Raimi's iconic yellow Oldsmobile Delta 88, which has appeared in all of his previous films, like the Evil Dead, all three of his Spider-Man movies, Drag Me to Hell, and more.

Marvel Studios / New Line Cinema / Sony

Michael recalled, "I love Rintrah. Every time I see him, he makes me smile. There's all sorts of cool stuff. If you look, you'll see Sam's famous car that's in all of his movies pops up. There's some cool stuff throughout."

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is in theaters now!