MCU’s Multiverse Missed A Perfect Doctor Strange Variant Opportunity

Warning: Contains spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.,Several Doctor Strange variants were shown or referred to in
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but the film missed an opportunity to include (or at least reference) a version of Stephen Strange who precedes the MCU itself. Sam Raimi makes his triumphant return to Marvel adaptations in
Doctor Strange 2, but in one of his celebrated
Spider-Man films, he acknowledges the Master of the Mystic Arts in a throwaway reference. With Raimi’s version of Spider-Man appearing in
Spider-Man: No Way Home, it’s odd that 
Doctor Strange 2 didn’t feature or acknowledge the MCU multiverse’s first Stephen Strange.,Despite its lack of an Avengers team (as humorously confirmed in
No Way Home), Sam Raimi’s
Spider-Man movie trilogy exists in a fully populated Marvel universe (Earth-96283), according to easter eggs and ancillary material set in the Raimi
Spider-Man continuity. This includes famous Marvel characters who exist outside of the
Spider-Man mythos, like Ant-Man, Namor, and Captain America, but Doctor Strange was famously referenced by name in 2004’s
Spider-Man 2. While brainstorming a supervillain name for Otto Octavius with Ted Hoffman, J. Jonah Jameson rejects the name Doctor Strange because “
it’s taken,” prompting him to settle on Doctor Octopus.,Related: Maguire & Garfield Universes Don’t Have Avengers, But DO Have Other Heroes,Both through the various Doctor
Strange 2 cameos and plot, the film explores the MCU’s multiverse and includes other iterations of Stephen Strange, so referencing the
Spider-Man trilogy’s version of Doctor Strange would have fit the movie well, but this variant was notably absent, despite Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man returning in
No Way Home. While there are several points in the film when the Stephen Strange of Earth-96283 could have been referenced, one of the best would have been in a conversation with a denizen of Earth-838. Another would be during Doctor Strange and Wong’s conversation with the superpowered America Chavez, who is perhaps familiar with a version of Spider-Man thanks to the Doctor Strange of Earth-96283.,When Doctor Strange and America Chavez speak to the Christine Palmer or Illuminati members of Earth-838, there were opportunities to mention that there are other versions of Doctor Strange who exhibit similar foibles to the main MCU iteration, citing the Strange of Earth-96283 as an example alongside that of Earth-838. America Chavez’s lack of familiarity with Spider-Man resulted in comedic dialogue, but she could have surprised Strange, Wong, and the viewers by mentioning both the Spider-Man and the Doctor Strange of Earth-96283. As shown in Sam Raimi’s
Spider-Man trilogy, Earth-96283’s New York City is extremely similar to that of the main MCU, which would make Chavez referencing it fairly natural in
Doctor Strange 2’s context.,Sam Raimi’s
Spider-Man films have a strong influence on the MCU itself, so having Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man appear in
No Way Home and Raimi direct an MCU film brings the franchises full circle. With this and
Doctor Strange 2’s multiversal premise in mind, it is unfortunate that the Doctor Strange of Raimi’s original Marvel universe wasn’t mentioned. Had
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness acknowledged this version of Strange, it would have had a crowd-pleasing moment that worked as well in-universe as it does on a meta level.,Next: All 12 MCU Movies Releasing After Doctor Strange 2 (& When)