When the first season of WandaVision came to an end on Disney+, fans were left with some answers, but also a lot of questions as well. Such was the nature of the show which acted more of a stage-setter/ bridge between Marvel Phases than anything else. And one of the questions that had been out there was whether Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange was going to make an appearance before the show wrapped. Apparently, the Giant Freakin Robot original scoop has been confirmed and that actor actually did shoot scenes for the season finale, but they were never aired. It had all been part of the plan, but like with all things, sometimes plans change.
The reveal that Benedict Cumberbatch had shot Doctor Strange scenes for WandaVision was first reported through Rolling Stone and then began making its rounds around the internet. If the ending of the season felt like there was something missing, that the good Doctor’s presence would have made sense in that he’s possibly gearing up for a fight with Wanda Maximoff at some point, this would have begun the clock ticking on that possibility.
According to this report, the commercials Wanda had been seeing throughout the show were actually Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange trying to contact her. The final scenes were apparently going to be the show confirming this fact with Strange, and possibly others, inserting themselves into the narrative right before it was all said and done. Kevin Feige commented specifically on the situation to Rolling Stone and why they decided to go a different direction:
“Some people might say, ‘Oh, it would’ve been so cool to see Doctor Strange, but it would have taken away from Wanda, which is what we didn’t want to do. We didn’t want the end of the show to be commoditized to go to the next movie — here’s the white guy, ‘Let me show you how power works.”
It’s been speculated that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is gearing up for a number of high-profile standoffs during this phase of productions, possibly even among the heroes themselves. After ridding the universe of Thanos (right?) once and for all there’s been the thought that some of the new conflict would come from within the ranks. Part of this was the thought that Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen would actually end up squaring off in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. This film is setting up to be a massive production, folding in many characters and different storylines. The Cumberbatch scenes from WandaVision were going to begin that setup but in wanting to keep the show just about Wanda, which was probably correct, they course-corrected in the short term.
One other interesting piece of this report on Rolling Stone was that the decision to remove Benedict Cumberbatch from WandaVision did have some cascading effects as well. It was also let on that leaving him out did require some rewrites on Multiverse of Madness. The pieces that would have tied the story together needed a new context after they chose to alter the ending some.
We do know these Benedict Cumberbatch scenes were filmed and there’s almost no doubt we end up actually seeing them at some point. In this way, Marvel more than deserves the benefit of the doubt. The way they’ve carefully crafted this universe with an eye to detail on how characters overlap is nearly unmatched in the history of productions. It’s always good to see an evaluation and reevaluation of their process and it’s fantastic to get an inside look at why creative decisions end up being made.