Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: Did It Live Up To Box Office Expectations?

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was a box office smash earning $956 million worldwide.

By Doug Norrie | Published

Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has come and gone. Prior to the Doctor Strange sequel, we saw Dr. Stephen Strange at the funeral of Tony Stark in the 2019 epic, Avengers: Endgame. It followed the epic battle that finally stopped Thanos and company from holding all of the Infinity Stones and basically laying carnage to the universe. It was part of a larger scene meant to put something of a punctuation point on the end of Marvel’s Phase Three. It officially ended with Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Now, having survived this intergalactic scourge, Strange and company had more stories to tell. There was the beginning to Marvel’s Phase 4 with Black Widow, followed by Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, and Spider-Man: No Way Home.  Disney+ added to the mix with WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki. With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, we got to see Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange take on one of his most formidable opponents, Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch in what turned out to be a box office smash hit.


Disney and Marvel had high box office hopes for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and it certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, the Doctor Strange sequel rang in with an $187 million domestic opening weekend and combined with a $265 million take from overseas audiences, the Sam Raimi film brought in over $450 million in its initial weekend.

It was a great way to start the summer, as the film was released May 6, 2022, and immediately became Disney’s highest-grossing debut during the COVID pandemic. All in all, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness turned to have the 11th-best domestic debut in all of moviedom, falling in right behind the 2015 Marvel film, Avengers: Age of Ultron, which brought in $191.2 million on its opening weekend.

Now, we can fast forward through summer and see where the second helping of Doctor Strange sits at the box office in comparison to other popular Marvel films. With its box office run having concluded, the Benedict Cumberbatch-led film sits around $44 million short of the coveted $1 billion mark ($956 million in total). In the grand scheme of all that is Marvel box office dominance, this puts Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in 11th place of all Marvel superhero movies. It sits one spot ahead of the 2007 release of Spider-Man 3 (which also happened to be Sam Raimi’s final film in his Spider-Man trilogy) and one spot behind the 2019 Brie Larson Captain Marvel film, which brought in an impressive $1.12 billion.

When Sam Raimi was brought into the Marvel fold again, fans were expecting the familiar horror touch Raimi was known for and he didn’t disappoint. Offering many nods to his Evil Dead past, including the requisite cameo from longtime partner and Evil Dead mainstay, Bruce Campbell, the Doctor Strange sequel hit on all cylinders.

Let’s take a look back and see how Raimi and company brought in nearly one billion at the box office.

Doctor Strange 2’s Super Bowl Trailer Filled With Easter Eggs, Hints, And Surprising Guest Stars

During the 2022 Super Bowl, a new trailer for Doctor Strange 2 premiered, designed to do exactly what it accomplished — get fans theorizing like wild. The new trailer was filled with more of everything — more action, more characters, and more hints at the different parts of Marvel’s Multiverse we’re bound to see in the upcoming sequel. We get what looks to be glimpses at a zombie version of Doctor Strange, some very Stark-looking robots, and some kind of clandestine council that may or may not be Marvel’s Illuminati. Perhaps most promisingly, a moment in the trailer featuring the unmistakable voice of Patrick Stewart — most likely as a variant of Professor X. The trailer had fans theorizing madly about Tom Cruise, Captain Marvel, the X-Men, and more. You can watch the trailer below.

Doctor Strange Faces Himself In First Trailer For Marvel

See Benedict Cumberbatch in the awesome trailer for Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness below. The trailer was released shortly after his appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home and had fans dreaming about the possibilities for this film.

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness Went Through Major Reshoots

Should fans have been worried? Marvel ordered major reshoots for the Benedict Cumberbatch sequel, leading many to wonder if the Sam Raimi movie was going to be okay.

benedict cumberbatch

Some outlets reported that reshoots turned Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness into a “whole other movie”. It was reported that Marvel projects like Spider-Man: No Way Home and Loki on Disney+ were what have caused the reshoots. These stories dealt heavily with the Multiverse, as will Doctor Strange 2. It sounded like factors in these stories caused changes to the upcoming film. With so many Marvel movies coming out all the time, it must be difficult to keep everything together and cohesive. It sounded like they’re doing their best to make the best movie possible, which is ultimately good in the end.

What Doctor Strange 2 Is About

Doctor Strange 2

While specific, script-related, details for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness were few and far between, the title alone gave us a major clue about at least the setting. The Multiverse is a “place” but more importantly a plot/setting device used in Marvel Comics to give a wider “dimensional” view of different storylines. Essentially, the Multiverse as a concept posits that there are nearly infinite alternate realities that closely mirror the events and characters in the “real” Marvel world.

From a publication standpoint, this gives a wide berth to writers and creators in order to come up with new stories about either characters who closely resembled the originals OR a way to provide alternate timelines for different stories. Much how Strange saw nearly infinite realities that could end up taking place, the Multiverse allows for even more differences in how different characters take shape, their origin stories, how world events play out and really anything else in between. We saw this in the movie for sure.

From the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness title, we made a basic assumption that Doctor Strange would explore the Multiverse and we could be dealt with a number of different “What if…” scenarios along the way. That last part was speculation, but the title was just so clear that it didn’t take much of a leap to get to at least broad strokes of a potential story. 

It also fell into line with Marvel’s development of, the appropriately-titled What If… series on Disney+ which simply asks that question. In the comics this was based on different storylines like “What if Captain America had been elected president?” or “What if Vision conquered the world? or “What if Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben had lived?”.

There are hundreds of different wormholes like these to dive down and Strange’s adventures in the Multiverse would dovetail nicely with these potential storylines. 

Tobey Maguire Returns As Spider-Man?

Tobey Maguire in Doctor Strange 2

We’ve heard rumblings for a while now that Marvel wanted to bring Tobey Maguire back as Spider-Man, in some capacity. While he was brought back in 2021, fans were waiting to see if more is in store for the future. And it seems like it may be happening. Word was that Maguire was in active negotiations to cameo in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

If this actually pans out we’d see the now 46-year-old Tobey Maguire as an aged Spider-Man in one of the numerous universes Doctor Strange will travel through, in the course of this movie. It’s wasn’t expected that his appearance will be much more than a cameo, but it’s going to be worth watching for. Tobey hasn’t played Spider-Man since Spider-Man 3 way back in 2007. In the end, Tobey Maguire didn’t appear in the movie.

Hugh Jackman As Wolverine?

Jackman Multiverse

Hugh Jackman has been adamant that he’s done playing Wolverine. He’s now 53-years-old and staying in that kind of shape is becoming difficult plus he feels that Logan was the perfect way for his iconic character to go out.

But at times it’s seemed like Marvel wants him back, and they want him back badly. Word is that they offered him a huge, huge pile of cash to put on the claws one more time for a cameo in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Like Maguire, Hugh Jackman didn’t appear in the movie.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Returning Cast

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Benedict Cumberbatch was back in Doctor Strange 2 for the lead role. Cumberbatch’s casting has proven perfect, with a balanced effect of egotism and stoicism for a character who isn’t exactly a core feature in the world of comic books. 

From the original Doctor Strange and Avengers movies, Benedict Wong came back in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as Wong, Strange’s right-hand man in the mystic arts. 

benedict wong

Rachel McAdams returned for Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. She was spotted in the trailer, though only in the background at the beginning. Ultimately, she played an important role in the plot for the movie.

rachel mcadams doctor strange

And Chiwetel Ejiofor was also back as Mordo, who decided at the end of the original movie to eschew his sorcerer duties. He turned out to be something of an antagonist in this movie disagreeing with how Strange has decided to use his powers. 

But the biggest casting news around Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was that Elizabeth Olsen would play a big role as Scarlet Witch/ Wanda Maximoff. There was plenty of speculation around what this could mean with everything from her finding a new love interest to maybe even going evil in a different Multiverse.

Elizabeth Olsen

There was heavy speculation that the events of WandaVision will factor heavily into what happens in The Multiverse of Madness.  For a long time there was a heavy rumor that Benedict Cumberbatch would be appearing as Strange on the show, but that never happened. Some had speculated that’s because the scenes were moved to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

There was also some speculation that Brother Voodoo and the Ancient One would have roles in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Voodoo would be a new addition to the MCU while the Ancient One was played by Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange and Endgame. She, of course, died in the original Doctor Strange but when we start talking about time travel, or alternate universes, then basically all casting decisions and previous timelines are up for grabs. What’s happened in the “past” doesn’t necessarily have much influence over what can happen in this story. 

And finally, the one villain that kept coming up in rumors around casting, without any official confirmation was the character of Nightmare. Scott Derrickson (who we’ll get to shortly) had hinted that he’d want to use this character in a sequel. He’s long been an enemy of Strange in the comic books, operates in the Dream Dimension, and has psychic abilities (among other things) that allow him to invade people’s minds. If Doctor Strange is in fact visiting different dimensions and realms, it would make some sense to run into Nightmare at least somewhere along the way. These villains untimely didn’t appear.

Sam Raimi Directed Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness


Scott Derrickson directed the original but has left the big chair and is instead slated to direct a movie adaptation of Stephen King’s short story “The Breathing Method”. Back in January, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Derrickson had left Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness because of “creative differences” and would merely stay on as an executive producer. That left the seat open for a new voice to and vision to take over.

Variety scooped that Sam Raimi was in talks to lead Doctor Strange in the Mulitverse of Madness. Raimi was now confirmed to be working on the movie. Raimi was a huge get for the flick having plenty of superhero experience already with the original, Tobey Maguire-led, Spider-Man trilogy (90%, 93% and 63% respectively on Rotten Tomatoes). Raimi just has a huge resume in general with other recent directorial work including Oz the Great and Powerful and Drag Me to Hell

The original script was written by Derrickson along with Jon Spaihts (The Darkest Hour, Prometheus) and C. Robert Cargill. But none of those three are back. Instead, this latest was based on a script by Jade Halley Bartlett in what appears to be her first feature film writing credit. It was an interesting move considering Bartlett’s previous Hollywood work “only” include acting roles in The Accountant and a TV movie called Cinnamon Girl. For such a seemingly big production, she’s a relative unknown. 

Benedict Cumberbatch Could Have Been Replaced

New Doctor

Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t have much time left on his contract with Marvel to play Doctor Strange. So the studio already had a plan underway to replace him and word is they’ll introduce his replacement in Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness.

According to WGTC the plan was to replace him with the character Clea, who would be his new love interest in Doctor Strange 2. She’ll would have been the new Sorcerer Supreme whenever Cumberbatch hung it up. While they wouldn’t actually call her Doctor Strange (that would be weird since Strange is actually the Doctor’s real last name) she’ll take over his job.

In addition to being Steven Strange’s love interest she’s also the niece of Dormammu. We’ll see more about how she fits into the movie universe in Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness.

Other Doctor Strange 2 Rumors

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

There were plenty of other rumors floating around right now about the Doctor Strange sequel, none of which officially confirmed but worth mentioning as different ways the movie could have taken shape. Cosmicbook reported that Emma Watson and Cillian Murphy could join the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness cast. The former would be in line to play Clea, a love interest to Strange with the latter possibly slated to play Nightmare. 

Because Shuma-Gorath is a major villain for Doctor Strange in the comics, it was rumored they could be the main villain for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Others have said there will be two villains: Scarlet Witch and an evil version of Captain America, played by Chris Evans. We did Shuma-Gorath in the flick, but it wasn’t the main villain.

Other sets of rumors according included everything from zombies (it happened), to supernatural Avengers (kind of happened), to horror-themes (definitely happened), to Keanu Reeves having a role (didn’t happen), to Loki making an appearance (never saw him). There’s a lot of latitude with how this movie is shaping up. 

Doctor Strange Trivia

Doctor Strange 2

Actress Jessica Chastain was, apparently, originally offered a part in the first Doctor Strange movie. Her casting was revealed in a podcast on Heroic Hollywood in which the first film’s writer, C. Robert Cargill had this to say…

“This is the interesting thing that Hollywood’s starting to find out, is that a lot of the actresses out there want to be superheroes as much as the actors do. I know this happened with Scott [Derrickson]. He went to Jessica Chastain to get her on Doctor Strange, because we were considering her. She’s like, ‘Hey, look, this project sounds awesome, and I would love to do it. But I’m only going to get one shot at being in a Marvel film and becoming a Marvel character; and I trained in ballet, and I really want to wear a cape.’ And that was the coolest rejection ever. She wanted to be in a Marvel movie, but she wanted to be the superhero, not the badass doctor Night Nurse.”

— C. Robert Cargill

The character in question is Doctor Christine Palmer, who would go on to be played by Rachel McAdams in the first movie. In the comics the character goes on to become a hero called Night Nurse, which honestly is probably way too silly for these movies. If Chastain really wanted to hold out for an actual superhero, that was a good call. Maybe it’ll still happen.

In all, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was a huge win for Marvel at the box office and with fans.