‘Doctor Strange 2’ Writer Michael Waldron on Working With Sam Raimi, His Collaboration With the ‘WandaVision’ Team, and More

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness writer Michael Waldron recently had a chat with Discussing Film about the new Marvel Studios movie. NO SPOILERS AHEAD.


Waldron first discussed how working with Sam Raimi was such a treat. He was brought on to write the project shortly before Raimi was hired as the director, so it’s really been their baby all along, and it grew into a great friendship. He said:


“I think I started on the movie maybe like, three or four days before Sam. So we began right around the same time as one another in February 2020. It was a blast right from the get-go of our very first meeting, we were having fun and cracking each other up. That friendship was only strengthened by going to London and making the movie together while locked down in the pandemic, you know, really climbing a very tall mountain together. It’s been great. I’ve learned a lifetime’s worth about making movies from him. I’m the luckiest guy in the world to have gotten to work with Sam on this thing.”


Waldron then addressed what appeals to him about the concept of the multiverse, after dealing with it on three different projects in a row (Rick and Morty, Loki, and Doctor Strange 2):


“I just think it’s a cool way to force self-reflection out of characters that might resist that sort of thing on their own, you know?

Characters like Loki or Stephen Strange, they’re not typically the type of folks that want to look inward, they got too much stuff going on around them to spend time thinking about who they are. But when they’re suddenly confronted with alternate universe versions of themselves – who might be a better version, might be a worse version – it makes them really reckon with who they are, and why they are the way they are. It’s just a cool bit of science fiction. So, it’s been fun! I don’t know, I’ve been working on multiverse stuff for a long time now, maybe I should chill out with it? (laughs)”


Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange


According to Waldron, they only started to go crazy with the multiverse concept once they had set in stone Strange’s arc in the movie:


“We made sure that the spine of our movie, the foundation, was Stephen Strange’s emotional arc so that you knew it was a Doctor Strange journey first and foremost. Once we felt like we understood that, then it was like, ‘Alright, let’s go crazy. Let’s throw all the craziest stuff we possibly can at the wall.’ I think that’s great, just as long as you take the concept of the multiverse seriously, meaning that if you go to another universe, it’s got to be a universe that can really exist, a place with its own rules, its own history, and its own characters with their own shared backstory. A universe that, in theory, you could set a whole other series of movies and it’s got to be a real lived-in place. And if you take it that seriously as a concept, then there’s nothing too crazy to do in that place.”


The Multiverse of Madness team, led by Waldron and Raimi, had a lot of collaboration with the people that worked on WandaVision, including its lead actress Elizabeth Olsen, to make sure everything was consistent:


“When I came on I had all the WandaVision scripts. I was pals with Jac Schaeffer – the head writer and creator of ‘WandaVision’ – and I worked with her and [director] Matt Shakman to understand what they were doing with their story, and then collaborated with Lizzie Olson, obviously, as we’re building this next step in Wanda’s journey. We trusted our own instincts and said, ‘Let’s figure out the story we would want to tell with Wanda knowing what we know.’ Then we went to that team, and especially working with Lizzie, we asked, ‘Are we being properly reverent of the great work you guys did in ‘WandaVision’?'”



Waldron then addressed the cameos in the film (without giving anything away), saying that they actually didn’t see them as cameos, but rather, people that serve an actual role in their respective universes:


“You know, if you’ve got to tell a multiverse story, you can look back at the Marvel Comics and there are some great runs from like Jonathan Hickman, who did a great multiverse arc that I drew some inspiration from, and so I was excited to try to nod to that. Every character that we pulled in that I guess folks will see as a cameo or whatever, we didn’t think of as a cameo. We felt like this person serves a real role in this real lived-in universe, that they’re a pillar of this world. And that’s how we attacked it.”


Waldron is no stranger to Marvel at this point, as he was the head writer in last year’s first season of Loki. The season finale of that show introduced us to Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains, a variant of Kang the Conqueror (who will appear in next year’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania). Some thought that character could at least make a quick appearance in Doctor Strange 2, but Waldron clarified in another interview with the Hero Nation podcast that was never the plan:


“To me it felt like we had the biggest, best bullet already, in Wanda. That when working with Sam, when it was like we should really make the decisions to make Wanda the antagonist of this film. It was exciting and part of that was the feeling of ‘geez, we can’t let another movie go have that fun.’ It because she is going to be so great.

And I think that if you had introduced Kang, as great as Jonathan Majors is, and as great as he is going to be playing that character, you would have risked the movie just getting maybe over-stuffed.”


Waldron is now working on the second season of Loki, even though Eric Martin will be the main writer this time around; the show is expected to shoot this summer. He is also working on Kevin Feige’s Star Wars movie.


Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is currently playing in theaters.