Warning: this story contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home. The doctor was out during WandaVision. Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) was supposed to appear in the Marvel Studios series before reuniting with Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, but Marvel cut Cumberbatch from “The Series Finale.” The Disney+ spinoff, set just weeks after Wanda and Strange blip back to life in Avengers: Endgame, instead ends with Wanda transforming into the Scarlet Witch and unleashing powerful chaos magic against the witch Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn), leaving Strange’s mentorship for Doctor Strange 2.
“Some people might say, ‘Oh, it would’ve been so cool to see Doctor Strange.’ But it would have taken away from Wanda. We didn’t want the end of the show to be commoditized to go to the next movie,” Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige told Rolling Stone at the time about the decision not to have Strange appear in WandaVision.
No Way Home reveals Wong (Benedict Wong) is the new Sorcerer Supreme, a title awarded on a “technicality” because Thanos (Josh Brolin) snapped Strange — along with half the universe — out of existence for five years in Avengers: Infinity War. As a Master of the Mystic Arts, and not the ruling Sorcerer Supreme, Strange may have been forbidden from interfering with Wanda’s hex cast over the New Jersey suburb of Westview.
As we see in No Way Home, Strange does not defy Wong as the misleading trailer implies: instead, Wong grants Strange permission to cast a spell and make the entire world forget that Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is Spider-Man. Wong’s only concession is that Strange leave him out of it as he vacations in Kamar-Taj.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings reveals what Wong does in his time away from the Sanctum Sanctorum: namely money-making cage fights against his friend, the Abomination (Tim Roth), on the other side of the world. We also see Sorcerer Supreme Wong investigating the powerful magic of the ancient ten rings wielded by Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), learning the rings are emitting a beacon out into the universe.
It’s not until Wanda wields her chaos magic, becoming the Nexus being Scarlet Witch in the series finale of WandaVision, that the ex-Avenger might register on the Sorcerer Supreme’s radar. In the first Doctor Strange 2 trailer that rolls after the Spider-Man end credits, Strange finds Wanda at a reclusive cabin and assures her he’s “not here to talk about Westview.”
“We need your help,” Strange says after shots of an injured Wong. “What do you know about the Multiverse?”
That question will be answered when Wanda and Strange return in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, out May 6, 2022.