This post contains very light spoilers to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
For detractors of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the franchise’s interconnectedness can be a burden. Case in point: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which builds directly off the resolution to WandaVision. But it’s somewhat surprising that Multiverse of Madness did not at all connect to another Disney+. Loki was not only the installment that first unleashed the multiverse on the MCU but also shared a head writer in Michael Waldron.
But Waldron has a simple reason that the two properties did not intersect: “If it had been necessary, I think we would have,” Waldron told Variety. “But as it was, it felt, even to me, like we were just reaching.”
Waldron admits that he would have been happy to work with Loki’s main cast again, but he had to put the story first. “You know, this movie was already handling a lot, and that might have just confused things even further,” he explained. More importantly, Waldron believes that the Multiverse of Madness was “happening separate of that TVA purview,” referring to the Time Variance Authority seen in Loki.
But that doesn’t mean the TVA is necessarily completely unaware of Doctor Strange’s multiversal shenanigans. Den of Geek asked Waldron whether the events of Multiverse of Madness could (in theory) have some kind of effect on Loki season 2 and got an interesting response from the writer.
“Well, you can imagine Loki is watching the events of this movie at a chrono monitor. Just having to light a cigarette,” Waldron tells us. “And so, you gotta believe there’s probably some knockdown effect.”
So yes, there’s a possibility the next season of Loki could acknowledge what happened in Multiverse of Madness, but for now that’s just theoretical. And Marvel could ultimately choose to avoid connections between these two properties in order to not confuse the MCU timeline further, as Waldron said.
Marvel recently chose to do just that with another upcoming film and a recent Disney+ series. Moon Knight head writer Jeremy Slater recently revealed that he had planned to integrate aspects of the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder into his show. But instead, he and MCU chief Kevin Feige decided that even that mentioning that movie’s villain Gorr the God Butcher would distract from the show’s arc. Furthermore, early drafts of Moon Knight included appearances by the Eternals.
For Feige, these sorts of decisions are a constant challenge. As with the comic books that inspired it, a shared universe is one of the MCU’s core appeals. Early on in the franchise, fans exploded with applause when Loki transformed into Captain America in Thor: The Dark World, played by a clearly game Chris Evans. Later, Sony shelled out big bucks to put Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow in Spider-Man: Homecoming, ensuring its status as a proper MCU film.
But anything this large and popular always runs the risk of backlash, especially as the universe expands. After a relatively quiet 2020, the MCU debuted four new movies and four Disney+ series in 2021. 2022 shows no signs of slowing down, with two more movies, three more series, and two holiday specials still to come. One doesn’t have to look far to find people exhausted with the heroes they once loved.
That said, one also must wonder if the backlash actually exists. Spider-Man: No Way Home, a movie that relied upon not only several other MCU films but five other Spider-Man movies, became the sixth-highest grossing film of all time, despite releasing in a pandemic. Despite its dependence on WandaVision, Multiverse of Madness has done very well, earning $500 million in just over a week. Conversely, the largely-disconnected Moon Knight initially opened well, but the show struggled to keep pace with other MCU series.
With that in mind, was Waldron wise to cut Loki references from his movie? Maybe the answer lies someplace in the multiverse.