From spandex to web-shooters, Spider-Man: No Way Home is packed with over-the-top, reality-bending reveals. But it’s the post-credits, which doubles as a trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, that give us the best look at what’s coming next in the MCU.
What happens in the No Way Home post-credits
Following a mid-credits appearance by Venom and Eddie Brock, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is seen back at the Sanctum Sanctorum. Inside, the Sanctum is trashed, and outside, New York City is mysteriously distorted. As a fracturing, purple-hued presence takes over the skyline, an ashen Strange looks on in horror.
We hear some of Strange’s lines from No Way Home repeated in voice-over: “The multiverse is a concept about which we know frighteningly little.” Intercut is dialogue from someone else, likely the sorcerer Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), warning Strange that his tampering with the stability of space-time and “desecration of reality will not go unpunished.”
“It was the only way,” Strange says. “But I never meant for any of this to happen.”
There is a flash showing Strange spiraling through a chaotic mix of images: Wong (Benedict Wong) in some kind of trouble; Strange’s ex-girlfriend Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) wearing a wedding dress; and more that’s hard to decipher out of context.
“What do you know about the Multiverse?”
Cut to Strange visiting Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) at an idyllic orchard. Wanda’s attention turns to the events of WandaVision. “I made mistakes and people were hurt,” she begins. But Strange tells her he’s not interested in talking about what happened at Westview, and instead asks, “What do you know about the multiverse?”
Wanda looks all kind of panicked, and the two descend into a CGI-laden montage of epic dreamscapes and fight sequences featuring not just them but also Wong, Mordo, and others in action. In an especially rad moment, Strange cuts a city bus in half with a gigantic saw blade seemingly conjured from his mind.
As all of this is happening, Mordo tells Strange, “I’m sorry, Stephen. I hope you understand the greatest threat to our universe is…you.” On “you,” a Strange doppelgänger with an extra black goatee and otherwise sinister stylings appears to confront Earth-199999’s version. Where they are isn’t clear.
“Things just got out of hand,” the darker Doctor (Dark-tor?) Strange says, before a title card promises: DOCTOR STRANGE WILL RETURN.
What it means for the MCU and Multiverse of Madness
The first major Marvel movie of 2022, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on May 6. The closeness of the film’s release may explain why Marvel went with a trailer drop for No Way Home‘s post-credits, an approach the studio hasn’t taken since Captain America: The First Avenger fittingly debuted the trailer for The Avengers.
No Way Home‘s post-credits scenes set up key partnerships and conflicts for the Multiverse storyline that are good to keep in mind as we head further into Phase 4. Chiefly, they suggest that Strange Supreme, a version of Doctor Strange from the Disney+ series What If…?, will arrive on the big screen in a manner similar to No Way Home‘s vexing spidey-visitors.
To fully appreciate Strange Supreme’s motives, you’ll want to catch the fourth episode of the animated anthology, now on Disney+. Titled “What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands,” the episode investigates a universe in which Strange loses Christine to a fatal car accident. Strange is warned that attempting to change his tragic past could irrevocably damage reality.
Still, the heart-broken Strange persists. So, in order to preserve the integrity of the universe, the Ancient One chooses to split Strange into two versions of himself. Born from the power of the Dark Dimension, Strange Supreme is an evil version of Strange, whose primary advantage over the good Strange is that the Ancient One thinks he will accept Christine’s death. The good Strange is then defeated. But in a What If…? twist, Strange Supreme ultimately refuses to let Christine stay dead and his reality collapses.
Parts of the No Way Home post-credits hint at a strong link between this tragic What If…? and the upcoming Multiverse of Madness. Namely, the implication that Christine might be getting married to Strange stands out, as we know they broke up in the first Doctor Strange. Changing pasts, presents, and futures perhaps? It’s plausible because Wanda’s central character arc is practically synonymous with blurring realities.
How the events of WandaVision, What If…?, and Spider-Man: No Way Home will combine to create a next chapter in the MCU is still pretty murky. But if Peter Parker’s latest adventure is any indication, then Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is just getting warmed up.
Spider-Man: No Way Home opens in now in theaters.