(WARNING: Major spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to follow.)
If you’re reading this, you saw Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on opening night (or are among the $27.2 million’s worth of people who saw it internationally). Or maybe you haven’t seen Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and never will, but you want to know who was in the movie to keep up with pop culture discourse. I know you’re reading this, Marty. Either way, welcome. In this post, I have ranked the major cameos in the 28th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not including — one last spoiler alert — Billy and Tommy from WandaVision, Thanos’ corpse, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo, Michael Stuhlbarg as Nicodemus West (I’m happy he got paid, though), and Tom Cruise, who, as expected, was nowhere to be seen. As for everyone else, read on…
7. Anson Mount as Blackagar Boltagon (Black Bolt)
There was a tweet going around earlier this week about all the Marvel movies and shows you needed (“needed”) to see before Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness came out. It read, ”Not gonna spoil anything, but make sure you watch the seventh episode of the season 6 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, the first episode of What If…?, the whole Loki series, Deadpool 2, the entire final season of X-Men: The Animated Series, and unbelievably Inhumans.” I, like everyone else, made fun of it — movies should not require homework. But in a way, the tweet proved to be at least partially correct: if you didn’t watch Inhumans, you might have no idea who Black Bolt is. To be fair, he died 10 minutes after being introduced, so it didn’t really matter, and no one should be forced to watch Inhumans. But justice for that guy’s tweet, I guess.
6. Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau (Captain Marvel)
Poor Maria Rambeau. On WandaVision, we learn that she died of cancer during the period of time between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, she (as Captain Marvel on Earth-838) again dies after getting crushed by a statue. Maria needs her own show or movie or podcast or whatever where she gets to kick ass and, most importantly, not die.
5. Charlize Theron as Clea
I’ll admit that I am unfamiliar with Clea, who Polygon helpfully explains is “Stephen Strange’s on-again-off-again wife and fellow adventurer — the closest thing he has to a regular love interest. Hailing from another dimension entirely, she’s also a sorcerer of great renown, and following Stephen’s recent death in the comics, she’s currently the Sorcerer Supreme.” But hey, Charlize Theron is in the MCU! That’s fun. Don’t hold your breath for a Clea / Venom scene, though.
4. John Krasinski as Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic)
Third time’s a charm. In 2005’s pre-MCU Fantastic Four, Reed Richards was played by Ioan Gruffudd, but after the dreadful sequel, 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, made less money than the original (among other reasons), a planned third film was scrapped. In 2015, Fox tried again with 2015’s Fantastic Four, or FANT4STIC, but it was a colossal failure, and a miscast Miles Teller was one-and-done as Mister Fantastic. For years, there have been rumors that The Office star John Krasinski would be the next founding member of the Fantastic Four — and what do you know? All those mock-ups proved prophetic. It’s an inauspicious introduction for Krasinski, considering he gets annihilated and humiliated by Wanda, but it would be a major flex for Marvel Studios overlord Kevin Feige if he finally solves the Fantastic Four problem.
3. Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier (Professor X)
Remember when Patrick Stewart cannily responded to rumors that he was in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness by saying, “You know, people have been imitating my voice ever since I came on the stage 60 years ago. So, I can’t be held responsible for that.” It was a perfect response, because he wasn’t denying that he would reprise his role as the X-Men leader, but he wasn’t confirming it, either. Well, it turns out he is in the movie, but it’s a different Professor X than the one who last appeared in Logan. This Professor X is the Professor X from the much-beloved X-Men animated series, which ran from 1992 through 1997. That explains the sting from the show’s theme song that we hear when he appears on-screen, and why his hoverchair looks different than in previous movies. You’ll get your day in the sun eventually, Gambit, I swear.
2. Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter (Captain Carter)
It’s always fun to see Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, who got one of the biggest pops from the audience at the theater I saw the movie in. In the Doctor Strange sequel, she appears in her What If…? form as Captain Carter, essentially the British version of Captain America. In this reality, she, not scrawny Steve Rogers, was the First Avenger, but not the first member of the Illuminati to die — she made it pretty far before Scarlet Witch sliced her in half using her Union Jack-emblazoned shield. God save the Captain.
1. Bruce Campbell as Pizza Poppa
Sam Raimi delights in making Bruce Campbell suffer. It’s pretty much the entire reason that the Evil Dead trilogy (including Evil Dead II, one of the greatest horror movies of all-time) exists. “I don’t know what’s entertaining about it, but it gives me a great deal of pleasure,” the Spider-Man director once explained about torturing his long-time buddy. “In this life, we’re supposed to respond to those things that give us bliss, and for me, this is that thing. So I find it to be a very healthy, productive, one-with-the universe-type thing to torment Bruce. And people love to watch his tormentation.” We sure do.
Raimi’s latest victim: Pizza Poppa. After America takes one of his pizza balls thinking they’re free, Doctor Strange casts a spell on the poor street vendor, who will spend the next three weeks continuously punching himself. It’s like a mystical version of “stop hitting yourself.” In the post-credits scene, the spell is broken, a relieved Pizza Poppa looks into the camera, and says, “It’s over!” It’s maybe the best scene in the movie.