The Doctor Strange 2 ending left everyone with a whole bunch of questions – and, now that the movie is on Disney Plus, a whole new set of people are watching Sam Raimi's superhero flick, and they all have questions too. If you're one of those people discovering Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness for the first time, then let us say hello, hope you enjoyed it, and yes, it's all a bit confusing.
Doctor Strange literally hops through dimensions and meets an alternate version of himself. Then there are characters from the animated What If? series, plus the sequel continues the story of both WandaVision and Spider-Man: No Way Home. It's a lot to take in. And while you can now have the movie replaying over and over again on Disney Plus, you may just want some help deciphering the whole thing. That's why we're here with this massive piece on the Doctor Strange 2 ending, including quotes from those involved with the film.
Of course, everything below is full of major spoilers, so be warned if you haven't yet seen the movie (sign up to Disney Plus using the widget to catch it now) – and if you have, scroll on to get up to speed on the Multiverse of Madness and what it means for the future of the MCU.
Doctor Strange 2 ending explained *spoilers*
Knowledge of the multiverse would drive anyone mad. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness saw Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) wielding the Darkhold and using demonic monsters to track down American Chavez (Xochitl Gomez). Having gone full Scarlet Witch after the events of WandaVision, in which she enslaved the entire town of WestView, Wanda now wants to reunite with her children Billy and Tommy, and the only way how is to absorb Chavez’s dimension-hopping powers, head into another universe where that version of Wanda is happy, kill her, and take her place as a loving mother. Naww. Of course, that’s not the Avengers hero talking, but the Darkhold, which has captured Wanda’s soul.
Before Wanda becomes a full-on villain, though, we see Chavez escaping one of Wanda’s demons with the help of an alternate version of Doctor Strange. After Strange offers to sacrifice Chavez, she panics and she opens a portal through the multiverse to another universe – the main Marvel timeline, designated Universe 616. She brings the demon and the dead Strange with her, but our Doctor Strange – who was at Christine’s (Rachel McAdams) wedding – is on the scene with the new Sorceror Supreme, Wong (Benedict Wong), and they defeat the demon.
Soon enough, they realize that Wanda is the one causing havoc. Strange, Wong, and Chavez take up defense in Kamar-Taj with a bunch or warriors, but Wanda breaks through. Cue Chavez panicking and punching herself and Strange through the multiverse. In this new, eco-friendly universe, known as reality 838, they search for the alternate Strange who lives there. At the Sanctum Sanatorium is Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who poisons the intruders, sending them to sleep, only to wake up in glass boxes. They’re in the Baxter building where a different version of Christine is. Christine also designates the original Marvel timeline Earth-616.
Mordo eventually takes Strange to an Avengers-like group of multiverse defenders known as The Illuminati. Among its ranks are Reed Richards (John Krasinski), Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Captain Marvel (Lashana Lynch), Captain Carter (Haley Atwell), and Black Bolt (Anson Mount). They reveal that the Strange they knew tried to use the Darkhold, and they had to kill him as the book had corrupted that Strange.
Meanwhile, Wanda takes over the body of Wanda 838 and heads to the Illuminati, and brutally murders them all. Strange manages to escape with Chavez and Christine 838, and they eventually head into another multiversal hole to find the Book of Vishanti, which is the polar opposite of the Darkhold. However, Wanda’s hot on their tail and destroys the book, steals Chavez, and takes her back to Universe 616, where the Scarlet Witch will take her powers. Strange and Christine are sent to a netherworld-like reality where multiverses had once collided, causing an incursion.
Strange and Christine find the Sanctorum and meet that universe’s version of Strange, who defends an alternate version of the Darkhold. The Stranges have a musical showdown, which Strange 616 wins. He then takes the Darkhold and uses its powers, taking over the dead body of the Strange from the movie’s beginning. Together with Wong and Chavez, who realizes the true potential of her powers, they defeat Wanda, who destroys the Darkhold. Strange 616 is brought back to his universe by Chavez, and she trains with Wong at Kamar-Taj. Strange wanders the streets of New York, the day saved, but then a third eye appears on his head.
In a post-credits scene, Charlize Theron shows up (!!!) and Strange shows off how he’s now got his third eye under control. Then, in a second scene, a man who sold pizzas (played by director Sam Raimi’s long-time collaborator Bruce Campbell) finally stops hitting himself in the face and tells us "it’s over".
Does Wanda die in Doctor Strange 2?
Doctor Strange 2’s main villain turned out to be Wanda Maximoff, who went full evil in her quest to reunite with her children after losing them in WandaVision. She has been tapping into chaos magic using the Darkhold. Among her victims are the Illuminati, the majority of Kamar-Taj’s warriors, and a Doctor Strange variant. However, when she almost achieves her task, it proves too much.
During the finale, Chavez punches Wanda back into the 838 reality. Here she is confronted with this reality’s version of her children, who are terrified of the Scarlet Witch, and beg their mother, Wanda 838, to save them. A heartbroken Wanda 616 sees who she has become through the eyes of her children, realising the chaos she has caused. She returns back through the portal and gets everyone to flee from her evil lair, a temple, before bringing the entire area to the ground – with her trapped underneath it.
Is there any way Wanda survived being squashed by the rubble? Or is Scarlet Witch really dead? Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness leaves the moment ambiguous. While it’s a brutal sacrifice, we don’t see her body and, given Marvel’s penchant for bringing characters back from the dead, we wouldn’t get too ahead of ourselves just yet.
Elizabeth Olsen has now opened up about this as she discussed her future in the MCU. "It's weird that I'm expecting to return but no one's told me I'm doing anything," she told Variety. "But in my mind, I'm just making the assumption that they'll have me again. I don't know to what capacity, but I hope I'm back. I hope there's also more fun to be had in something different."
The actor also directly addressed her final appearance in the film, and if that means her character is dead. She told Access Online: "She could never go away I don’t think - especially with the multiverse. But I don’t know, I think she’s aware of what she’s done. But no, I don’t think she’s gone."
As for her villainous turn, writer Michael Waldron has given his thoughts on the character's arc from WandaVision to the movie. "I guess I would say to the WandaVision fans, like, I get it. Watching a character you love do bad things sucks," he told The Playlist. "That elicits a strong feeling, which is what we’re trying to do in the movies. We never would have done it if it didn’t feel like the next step in her character journey."
He added: "It's a show about her living in denial to some extent and she’s conquering her denial," he continued. "But I don’t think that she’s properly reckoning with her anger over what she’s endured, and that anger is what she carries with her as she walks away with the knowledge that she is the Scarlet Witch and with the Darkhold, this evil book."
How did Doctor Strange become a zombie?
When Doctor Strange and Christine 838 are trapped in the netherworld reality, Strange uses the Darkhold to stop Wanda from stealing Chavez’s powers. He uses the magical technique of dreamwalking – which is where a person inhabits an alternate version of themselves in another universe. Because evil Wanda’s in reality 616, and he’s Strange 616, he must embody the dead version of himself in that universe to try and stop Wanda.
However, it does seem this is not without consequences as spirits attack him as magic wielders are not allowed to reanimate the dead. Christine helps to control them from her end, allowing Strange to use them as a cloak in his battle against Wanda. However, it seems like there will be implications for using this dark magic – it seemingly causes an "incursion".
Why does Doctor Strange have a third eye?
When Strange 616 and Christine 838 enter the netherworld world, a universe that’s collapsing in on itself, they meet a very dark version of Strange, Sinister Strange. He explains how he used Darkhold magic to stop Thanos (Josh Brolin, seen in Avengers: Endgame) and it enacted a heavy cost on his reality – breaking the foundations of reality. This Strange is obsessed with the idea of having Christine alive in his life, bartering with Strange 616 to leave her there in exchange for the Darkhold. We then see Sinister Strange with a third eye on his forehead, seemingly a physical manifestation of the impact dark magic has had on him.
Just before the credits roll, Strange 616 is seen walking down the streets of New York, happily vibing to music. However, he doubles over in pain before realising the eye has emerged on his forehead. We don’t know exactly what that means for the Strange in the MCU, yet the third eye has been part of Strange’s life for some time in the comics. Strange wields the Eye of Agamotto, which is the amulet he wears on his chain, and sometimes it manifests on his forehead. This gives him the ability to see the truth, using a mystical light to look through disguises and illusions, as well as seeing past events and weakening evil beings. Although, it’s not clear how much of this will be transferred into the movie version of Strange, as the eye comes an object for good in the comics, which it does not here. The eye then reappears on Strange’s forehead during the mid-credits scene.
Who is Charlize Theron's character Clea? What is an incursion?
In the first Doctor Strange 2 post-credits credits scene, we’re introduced to a brand new character played by Charlize Theron. She’s not named, but her purple outfit makes here instantly recognizable to comic book fans as Clea – a name confirmed in the credits. In the comics, Doctor Clea Strange is a sorceress and disciple of Strange. She later goes on to become his wife and the Sorcerer Supreme herself.
In this version, she asks: "Doctor Strange, you’ve caused an incursion and we’re going to fix it." Clea then tears a portal into another universe before adding, "Unless you’re afraid?" Strange replies: "Not in the least" before getting into the portal behind her. We don’t know where they’re going yet, but this could set up a potential Doctor Strange 3 – or her appearance in another project.
One of the answers about where they’re heading could be explained by what exactly an "incursion" is. An incursion is when two universes collide and bleed together. The result of this means both will be destroyed, if the problem’s not solved. According to comic book lore, each time a new incursion happens, the time it takes for an incursion to happen shortens, and the Multiverse contracts. Seeing as Sinister Strange was living in a universe that had suffered an incursion due to his use of the Darkhold, we can assume that reality 616 is under threat of incursion due to Strange 616’s use of the Darkhold to save Chavez. You can read more about Clea's comic book history through that link.
But why is now the right time to bring in Clea? For Waldron, it comes down to her love story with Strange. "We knew that we wanted to introduce Clea," the writer told Gizmodo. "She's Strange's great love in the comics and it was felt to me like Strange wasn't at the point at the start of our movie where he was ready to meet the love of his life. It felt like we had to close the loop with he and Christine Palmer. And so after she gives him her wisdom to not be afraid of loving someone, then it felt like we were right to tease what could be eventually with he and Clea."
Theron has also unveiled a look at her Marvel character on Instagram, simply captioned: "Meet Clea."
Are America Chavez’s parents still alive?
When Strange and Chavez first visited the 838 universe, they walk past a shop that allows them to revisit memories, and Chavez plays a memory of her parents. She had been playing outside with her two mothers, but then she gets scared of a bee and accidentally opens a portal. Her parents are pulled through. Chavez has not been able to find them since.
The pair could certainly still be alive, especially given Strange’s belief in Chavez’s powers. He tells her at one point that she always sends people into the correct universe, so they could be safe and well in another one. It seems likely that Chavez will be returning to the MCU, so this could be something explored when she comes back. For now, we’ve left her learning under Wong’s careful training.
What happened to Christine, did she return to 838?
We didn’t see Christine 838 return to her own universe, but it was heavily implied by the dialogue between Strange and her after they successfully stopped Wanda. Christine spoke about how much she wishes she could see his world, but knew she had to return home.
Who was in the Illuminati? Did they all die?
The Illuminati will see you now – albeit very briefly. The group of superheroes tasked with making decisions that impact the multiverse are introduced in universe 838 and feature the movie’s biggest cameos. They are: John Krasinski as Reed Richards, Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Lashana Lynch as Captain Marvel, Haley Atwell as Captain Carter, Anson Mount as Black Bolt of the Inhumans, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo.
However, they don’t last long as Wanda kills them all off in her quest to retrieve Chavez. Black Bolt’s mouth is removed, causing him to kill himself with his voice, while Richards is shredded by Wanda. Captain Carter’s killed by her own shield, which is sent flying towards her by Scarlet Witch, Captain Marvel’s crushed by a statue, and Professor X has his neck snapped while inside 838’s Wanda’s head. The only one who survives is Mordo, who’s last seen in handcuffs. You can read more about each member's comic-book history in our guide to The Illuminati in Doctor Strange 2.
Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed an empty chair in the hall, and Waldron has (sort of) explained what's going on there. "That's also an unanswerable question, but we talked about that a lot, though," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "Maybe that was just a mistake. Maybe the set [decorator] guy had one too many chairs. [Laughs]"
Waldron has also explained what version of Professor X is included in the movie, too. "He uses a line from Days of Future Past that he says to Stephen. But also, we drew from the classic cartoon version of that character," the writer explained to Variety. "He's a variant who has qualities of a bunch of different versions of those guys from across the multiverse."
Will there be Doctor Strange 3?
So far, there has been no confirmation about a third Doctor Strange movie. However, the mid-credits sting certainly sets up the possibility. There also the chance we might see Cumberbatch back as Strange in another project before then, as there are plenty more Marvel Phase 4 releases already in the making, which he and Theron’s Clea could make an appearance in. As soon as any more is confirmed, we’ll keep you updated.
Want more on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? Then check out our guides to:
- The rumored Doctor Strange cameos that never came true
- All the Doctor Strange 2 Easter eggs listed
- Where does Doctor Strange 2 fit on the Marvel timeline?
- The TV history of the Darkhold, explained
- Our full WandaVision recap
- The Marvel movies and shows to watch before Doctor Strange 2
- When is Doctor Strange 2 on Disney Plus?
- How to watch the Marvel movies in order
- Is Doctor Strange 2 too scary for children?