Elizabeth Olson as Wanda in WandaVision

Wow, We Really Missed Out On A Benedict Cumberbatch Moment In 'WandaVision'

by Ani Bundel

After an almost two-year absence from the cultural landscape, the Marvel Cinematic Universe returned with WandaVision. The series was a massive hit for Disney+, generating social media chatter and memes. But to the hardcore fans who expected the series to function as a lead-in to Marvel's upcoming movie, Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness, the series finale brought some confusion. So, why wasn't Dr. Strange in WandaVision, after all? It turns out, he almost was.

For those who don't follow Marvel's ins and outs closely, the questions about Dr. Strange might have seemed, well, strange. Wanda and Vision were not in the original Doctor Strange movie. Moreover, they have zero interaction with the Sorcerer Supreme in the Avengers movies in which they both star. Dr. Strange goes straight into space with Tony Stark at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War. By the time both are on the same battlefield in Avengers: Endgame, Vision is dead and Wanda is too busy directly attacking Thanos to pay the sorcerer much mind.

But what viewers might not have known is when Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige announced WandaVision at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019, the show was billed as the direct lead-in for Doctor Strange 2. In a pre-pandemic timeline, WandaVision was supposed to premiere in March 2021 and Doctor Strange 2 would have arrived in May directly following that.

So, it makes sense why Dr. Strange would have been in WandaVision. But why did those plans change?

According to Rolling Stone's forthcoming oral history of the making of WandaVision, the plan was to have Dr. Strange turn up in the show's finale. Actor Benedict Cumberbatch had even struck a deal to appear.

But late in the process, the team rethought the decision. "Some people might say, 'Oh, it would've been so cool to see Dr. Strange,'" Feige told Rolling Stone. "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.'"

The late-in-the-game removal of Strange from the narrative also changed other aspects of the series, like the commercials. Those were initially supposed to be Strange's attempts to communicate with Wanda inside her bubble — meeting her where she was, if you will.

Taking him out also had repercussions for the Doctor Strange film, which had to have sections rewritten to reflect that Strange and Wanda didn't meet in the series.

Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness will premiere in theaters on March 25, 2022. All episodes of WandaVision are streaming now on Disney+.