‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’: Michael Waldron Confirms He Pitched Tom Cruise as Iron Man Variant

In a new interview with Rolling Stone, screenwriter Michael Waldron has confirmed that he did pitch to Kevin Feige the idea of having Tom Cruise as an Iron Man variant in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.


WARNING: This story contains spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.


That was a long-running theory online leading up to the release of the Doctor Strange sequel, though a couple of weeks before the release it had already been debunked by multiple Marvel scoopers. The writer was directly asked the question about fans speculating online on Cruise’s appearance in the movie, and he replied:


“That was totally made up. I mean, there’s no cut footage of Tom Cruise! But I love Tom Cruise, and I said to [Marvel Studios president] Kevin [Feige] at one point, I was like, ‘Could we get Tom Cruise’s Iron Man?’ I remember reading about that in Ain’t It Cool News back in the day, that Tom Cruise was going to be Iron Man.”


That was definitive proof that the conversation at some point happened inside the Marvel Studios headquarters, though the writer did confirm that the idea came to him after seeing online speculation:


“Yeah, exactly. As it was being talked about online, I was like, Yeah, that’d be cool!”


He then said that, as far as he knows, no one ever reached out to Tom Cruise, who was shooting Mission: Impossible 7 while Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was in production:


“I don’t believe so. I just don’t think it was ever an option, because of availability.”


Doctor Strange facing Professor X


According to Waldron, the final lineup of the Illuminati was very close to what he had written in the script, which is something he never imagined he would get away with:


“The final lineup in that group is beyond my wildest dreams of who we could get — and then dispatch. [Laughs] I never dreamed we’d be able to do that. But the lineup is close to, I think, who was originally in my first draft, which was: “Okay, I know it can’t actually be this.” And then it ended up being close to that. It was just a moving target of who’s available and who’s right. It became, “All right, if you’re putting together an Illuminati, who would actually need to be in it?” You’d have people with certain power sets. And we tried to be true to what kind of characters were represented in the Illuminati in the comics.”


According to some rumors and online leaks, Balder the Brave was at some point part of the lineup, supposedly played by Bruce Campbell. That would have been removed during reshoots, with Campbell changing his role to a pizza vendor in that same universe.


Ultron drones escorting Doctor Strange


Waldron was asked a few more questions about the movie. For instance, a small plot hole some fans pointed out online right after the movie came out is the fact that Earth-838’s Christine Palmer named the MCU’s reality Earth-616, which coincidentally is the same name that Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio used in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Of course, Mysterio was making it up at the time, which led to a very interesting coincidence. Michael Waldron, however, shrugged it off:


“Yeah, let me know! [Laughs] I guess it begs the question, What did Quentin know? He was a smart guy. Um, is it just a coincidence? That’s… I don’t know. But what’s your out?”


The interviewer then replied “A dream. It came to him in a multiversal dream”, which Waldron agreed with. He also spoke about crafting that ending, which saw Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange suffer the consequences of reading the Darkhold (and possessing another corpse) by getting the third eye. He said:


“I felt like we had a happy ending. We were like, like, ‘Gee, you know, for a movie where a lot of bad shit happens, we got kind of a happy ending here.’ We really wrapped it up and that didn’t quite seem right. We kept thinking about what Mordo warned Strange in the first movie: ‘The bill comes due.’ It’s like Wong says, ‘You possessed your own corpse.’ Like, is this guy ever going to face any consequences? And it just felt like a great nod to horror movies where there’s that final twist.”



The writer also weighed in on how the pandemic and the worldwide lockdown affected the movie, especially in its early days, and it was apparently for the better:


“Well I came on about a week before Sam, almost at the same time. That was February 2020, and initially, we were going into production in May of 2020. The idea was to just take the bones of what exists, and can we get that into shape to shoot in three months. So I had three weeks to write a whole new draft using some very good ideas that were there from Scott and Jade Bartlett, who was the original writer. Writing a movie in three weeks is almost impossible. And then halfway through that third week, where I’ve already gone insane, COVID happened, and the world shut down. I was like, did I manifest this break in reality? But then the movie pushed [its release date], and Sam and I were able to say all right, let’s set all this aside. Let’s basically start over with [a new] version of movie, and start from scratch. Then I had a little more time to work on a first draft than three weeks.”


In fact, there was another factor at play here, and it’s that of release dates. Doctor Strange 2, due to pandemic issues, was pushed back to be released after Spider-Man: No Way Home. That meant that Waldron and Raimi had more freedom to explore the multiverse and not explain everything about it to the audience, since No Way Home was already introducing the concept. He explained:


“From my friendship with [‘WandaVision’ head writer] Jac [Schaeffer] and from reading the scripts, I knew WandaVision was going to be tremendous. There was always the pressure of what a hard thing to follow up, but let’s just try to do this character justice and continue that story in a way that’s reverent but also breaks new ground. With ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’, the shift was originally we were going to be the first movie that broke the ground on the multiverse in the MCU. When we shifted, suddenly it’s like wait, Dr. Strange has been on a whole multiversal adventure, and that actually gave us some license. It was kind of nice. It was like okay, he understands more about that. We don’t want to spoon feed this as much to the audience.”


All’s well that ends well, and so far, it looks like that’s the case. Spider-Man: No Way Home made $1.8 billion worldwide despite being released in the middle of the omicron wave, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opened to $187M in the States. After less than a week in theaters, the movie has already crossed the $500M mark worldwide, and could, by the end of the month, have crossed $1B.


In other Doctor Strange news, Charlize Theron, who pops up in the mid-credits scene as Clea, has already posted a picture of her makeup online. Check it out below:



Make sure to read our review of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness here if you haven’t already.