“Stephen Strange, the Illuminati will see you now,” says Karl Mordo in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, ahead of an encounter with a mysterious group of Marvel Cinematic Universe heroes. The movie is now available to stream on Disney Plus.
The 28th MCU movie landed in theaters last month and sent the ex-Sorcerer Supreme (Benedict Cumberbatch), Avenger/Disney Plus star Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and new hero America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) on a wild ride through multiple realities. This brings them into contact with some iconic characters.
“The film wears its continuity lightly, using the multiverse concept to go large with cameos and twists on Marvel lore that will no doubt draw whoops of delight in packed theaters,” CNET’s Rich Knightwell said in his review.
Let’s step into a star-shaped portal and take a closer look at some of these fantastically SPOILERYcameos. We also have explainers for the movie’s ending and post-credits scenes, as well as a list of unanswered questions.
A murderous Wanda is determined to steal America’s ability to create doors to alternate realities, which will allow her to reunite with her lost sons, Billy and Tommy, by seizing control of the multiverse. America and Strange flee to a futuristic reality designated Earth-838. The MCU is Earth-616, which happens to be the same designation given to the mainline comic universe — suggesting each is considered the prime reality of its medium.
Seeking help from this world’s Strange, they discover he died heroically and has been replaced as Sorcerer Supreme by Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Earth-616 Wanda pursues her prey across realities, using forbidden Darkhold magic to possess the body of her Earth-838 counterpart.
The charming-but-sneaky Mordo drugs America and Strange, bringing them to the Central Park headquarters of the Illuminati. This group of elite heroes will be familiar to longtime Marvel fans — let’s go through each one, and their horrible, horrible fates.
Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic
This is the one that probably made your theater scream with joy. Reed Richards is the leader of the Fantastic Four, Marvel’s first superhero team. The supersmart scientist can stretch his body into pretty much any shape.
He’s played here by John Krasinski (of The Office and A Quiet Place fame), an actor whom fans have called to be cast in the role for years. Unsurprisingly, Krasinski is pretty much perfect as Reed, infusing the character with the right mixture of gravitas and warmth.
Ol’ Stretcho kindly explains the danger of Wanda’s multiversal madness causing an incursion — an apocalyptic event that occurs when one multiversal reality crashes into another. And then he encounters Wanda.
“I have children of my own. I understand your pain,” he says, in an attempt to reason with her.
She asks if their mom is alive, to which he responds in the affirmative. In the comics, Reed is married to fellow FF member Sue Storm (aka Invisible Woman) and their children are Franklin and Valeria.
“Good. There will be someone left to raise them,” Wanda responds.
Sounds like a threat, because it is. Reed stretches out to restrain her, but she magically levitates him before tearing his body apart like string cheese and bursting his head. I guess Earth-838 has a Fantastic Three now.
We haven’t seen this character’s Earth-616 counterpart yet. It’s unclear whether Krasinski will reprise his role in the upcoming MCU Fantastic Four movie or if this was just a nod to fans who’ve been wishing for him to be cast. He’s perfect for this part, but it could be a little too obvious.
Charles Xavier/Professor X
This guy has the most cinematic history of the Illuminati members, with Patrick Stewart returning to the role he originated in 2000’s X-Men. This isn’t the same version of the powerful psychic mutant we saw in those movies, but it’s pretty thrilling to see Stewart coming back.
Marvel knows how to maximize Xavier’s emotional impact, putting the hero in his signature yellow hoverchair from the comics and giving us a hint of the ’90s X-Men animated series theme when he enters (the show is also getting a Disney Plus revival).
Xavier displays more compassion than his fellow Illuminati, who don’t trust Earth-616 Strange due to his Earth-838 counterpart destroying a reality in his Darkhold-assisted quest to defeat this reality’s Thanos.
“Just because someone stumbles and loses their way doesn’t mean they are lost forever,” he says.
Unfortunately, this empathy doesn’t help when he encounters Scarlet Witch. Xavier dives into her mind and tries to help Earth-838 Wanda take back control of her body, but her Earth-616 counterpart materializes on the mental plain and snaps the X-Men founder’s neck. This is mirrored in the physical realm.
No more mutants indeed.
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This is the fourth time Stewart’s Xavier has died — he’s disintegrated by a Dark Phoenix-possessed Jean Grey in X-Men: The Last Stand (though he transfers his mind into a comatose patient), Sentinels blast him offscreen in X-Men: Days of Future Past‘s dystopian timeline (the past is rewritten shortly afterward, so it’s undone), and a clone of Wolverine fatally stabs him in Logan.
Blackagar Boltagon/Black Bolt
Inhuman king Black Bolt is played by Anson Mount, who previously portrayed the character in the bad 2017 Inhumans TV show (and more recently appeared in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds). As the leader of a near-human species, who gains random superpowers through contact with Terrigen Mist, his voice holds incredible destructive power.
He used this ability to execute the Darkhold-corrupted Earth-838’s Strange at the behest of his fellow Illuminati.
“I’m sorry,” Black Bolt says, killing his fallen friend.
When the Inhuman confronts Wanda, he suffers perhaps the most awful fate. She magically seals his mouth, causing him to freak out and scream internally, which makes his head explode from the inside. Excuse me while I have a little cry.
We don’t know where Earth-616 Black Bolt is — the show ended with him leading the Inhumans from their old home on the moon to Earth and making it their home. Don’t watch it though, it isn’t good.
Maria Rambeau/Captain Marvel
It seems that in this universe, Carol Danvers’ fellow pilot, instead of her, was empowered by the Tesseract, taking up the mantle and becoming one of the world’s greatest heroes. This character was introduced in Captain Marvel, and is played by Lashana Lynch (also seen as the new 007 in No Time To Die).
Earth-838 Maria is wearing a green Starforce uniform, suggesting that she might have remained an ally of the Kree — Danvers turned against the alien race on Earth-616. She’s confident she can beat Wanda and puts up a decent fight, but ends up being crushed by a statue (it looks a bit like Jocasta, the female version of Ultron).
On Earth-616, Rambeau didn’t get powers. She was a founding member of Sword, an agency that defends the planet against extraterrestrial and extra-dimensional threats, and died of cancer sometime after Thanos’ genocidal Snap. Her daughter Monica gained energy based powers during the events of WandaVision, suggesting the Rambeaus are destined for superheroics.
Earth 838’s Peggy Carter has been empowered by the Super Soldier formula, likely in place of Steve Rogers (who became Captain America in Earth-616). We were previously introduced to Captain Carter in last year’s What If…?, but this is a different version of the character.
Hayley Atwell has played the non-powered Earth-616 Carter multiple times and voiced Captain Carter in the animated series, but it’s our first time seeing her playing a superpowered take on the character in live-action. Unlike her What If…? counterpart, she augments her abilities with a jetpack, and it’s extremely cool.
Unfortunately, she’s no match for Wanda. When Carter flings her Union Jack shield at the Scarlet Witch, it’s sent flying back at her and we see what happens when you fail to catch the vibranium disc. You get sliced in half at the waist, Darth Maul-style.
In Earth-616, Carter lived through World War II and had a bunch of adventures in her two-season TV show. She co-founded espionage organization Shield, grew old and died peacefully in her sleep in Captain America: Civil War. Steve Rogers also went back in time and married a different version of Carter in Avengers: Endgame.
We last saw the What If…? Captain Carter working as a Shield agent in that show’s season 1 finale.
In this reality, Mordo and Strange’s friendship was eroded when Mordo became intensely jealous of Strange’s power and influence. After the Darkhold-corrupted Sorcerer Supreme was killed by his allies, Mordo assumed the title and took his place among the Illuminati.
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His jealousy bubbles up when Earth-616 Strange taunts him, and the pair battle. The more athletic Strange leaves Mordo stuck in a hole in the Illuminati throne room (shouldn’t have skipped leg day, Karl), and he ends up as the group’s only survivor. Lucky him, but also a bit embarrassing.
Earth-616 Mordo became disillusioned with his fellow sorcerers after seeing their constant violation of the natural laws. In the first Doctor Strange’s post-credits scene, he steals a magic user’s energy and declares that there are “too many sorcerers” in the world.
In the comics, the Illuminati is a group of superhero leaders who meet and share information to avert disaster. The original roster included Tony Stark, Namor the Submariner, Reed Richards, Black Bolt, Doctor Strange and Charles Xavier.
Earth-838 had a similar lineup — it’s likely Marvel decided it was too early to bring Tony back in any universe after his heroic sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame. Atlantean prince Namor has yet to appear in the MCU, but it’s likely he’ll appear soon, given his long comic history with the Fantastic Four.
The Playstation 5 is one of the biggest consoles around, but eventually, Sony will likely release a slim version. However, one DIY YouTuber didn’t want to wait several years for it, so he made his own “PS5 Slim.”
Matt Perks, known as DIY Perks on YouTube, got busy taking the entire PS5 apart and slowly figuring out how to remove, replace, or displace all the most significant parts of the gaming console. The result is a PS5 Slim under an inch thick instead of over 4-inches thick like the original.
He substituted components with homemade parts, like the beautiful copper exterior, built his own LED power button, and removed two of the biggest pieces of the Playstation 5 to create a gaming console just a hair thicker than a DVD case.
As you can see from the image and video above, Matt’s Playstation 5 is super thin and absolutely stunning. It’s slim, sleek, and small enough to fit just about anywhere.
However, if you don’t watch the entire video, you’ll miss that two of the most important components aren’t smaller. They’ve just been moved behind the desk. Most of the PS5’s thickness comes from the massive cooling heatsink and power supply needed to power all the fun games.
For this, the YouTuber still came up with a pretty genius plan. He added new custom liquid cooling blocks to his PS5 Slim, then routed the heat, water-cooling, and power to an external power supply and heatsink unit. This way, the chunky parts of Sony’s Playstation 5 can hide behind a TV, out of the way, where it won’t be such an eye-sore.
And while some will consider hiding those two components elsewhere is cheating, it’s still downright amazing what DIY Perks managed to create using household tools. From the shiny exterior, custom copper water block, and everything else that went into bringing this “Slim PS5” to life.
For now, regular people will have to wait a few years and see if Sony releases a slim version of its hard-to-get console or live vicariously through this YouTuber.
Netflix has a stunning range of sci-fi series, from Stranger Things, Black Mirror to The OA. It’s also tapped excellent international content, including German sci-fi Dark, one of the best series on Netflix full stop.
Scroll down to hopefully find the best Netflix sci-fi for you, plus excellent international offerings.
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Germany’s answer to Stranger Things deliberately takes its time before stepping into completely compelling and original places. A sci-fi noir, Dark folds time travel, conspiracies and estranged families into a generation-spanning story kicked off by a child’s disappearance. If those kinds of meticulously crafted layers are what you’re after in your storytelling, settle in. All three seasons of Dark’s meditative look at time travel and its effect on human nature are waiting to hit you at full force.
Netflix cancellations don’t get more criminal than the axing of The OA. This wildly unique story follows Prairie Johnson, a young blind woman who returns after being missing for years, now with the ability to see. She claims to be the “original angel” and convinces a small group of locals to listen to her impossible story, involving abductions and great escapes. The OA is the kind of grounded sci-fi that catches you and its heroes completely off guard when it introduces its fantastic concepts. Watch the first two impeccable seasons on Netflix and pray the third is picked up elsewhere.
Lost in Space (2018-2021)
The reboot of the 1965 series of the same name propels us forward to 2046, two years after humanity finds itself on the brink of extinction. The talented Robinson family head out with a crew to colonize a new planet. Aside from inescapable family drama, they face strange new environments and an odd alien robot that befriends young Will. Mystery, heart and a memorable villain in Parker Posey’s Dr. Smith give Lost in Space plenty of fuel to lift off (seasons 2 and 3 are markedly improved over season 1).
Yeah, Gong Yoo from Squid Game’s in this. What else do you need to know? This South Korean sci-fi mystery follows a crew of astronauts on a mission to an abandoned research facility on the moon. Their target: a sample of an unknown substance for unclear purposes. Betrayal, government lies and personal secrets send this addictive space journey into a tailspin.
Altered Carbon (2018-2020)
Altered Carbon is set in a cyberpunk world where human consciousnesses can be transferred into different bodies. This sees investigator and ex-soldier Takeshi Kovacs transported into the body of Joel Kinnaman in season 1 and Anthony Mackie in season 2. Initially, Kovacs’ story involves solving a murder, before he goes on a quest to unravel what happened to his own lost love. Altered Carbon can be clunky at times, but its visual candy and entertainment value hoist you through the exposition and heavy-handed social commentary.
From the creators of The Matrix comes another story that plays with reality. Sense8 follows eight strangers from across the world who discover they’re mentally and emotionally linked. Not only do these windows into vastly different lives teach tolerance, but the “sensates” can also tap each other’s skills when facing a sinister organization hunting them down. If you jibe with Sense8’s diverse characters, you’ll fall head over heels for this earnest and sensual sci-fi drama.
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Love, Death + Robots (2019—)
This adult animated anthology series spans a range of genres, with plenty of episodes hitting the Black Mirror comparison button. Robots in a post-apocalyptic city, farmers piloting mech suits and a space mission gone wrong all pop up in the first season. While the episodes can be hit and miss (some have been criticized for their treatment of women), you’ll find plenty of thought-provoking and impressive animation.
This apocalyptic sci-fi from Belgium will probably turn you off from flying any time soon. Set on a plane, Into the Night sees a red-eye hijacked by a soldier who, along with the rest of the passengers, ends up surviving a deadly global event down on the ground. Can they keep the plane going long enough to take them to safety? That premise alone should be enough to entice you to catch this excellent, tense thriller.
Hilary Swank is the big star at the heart of Away’s space drama. She plays Emma Green, a NASA astronaut and commander of an expedition to Mars. Things get off to a rocky start, and Emma’s international crew fill her with doubt over her ability to command. With time split between Earthbound drama and reliable entertainment above the stratosphere, Away is mostly successful in landing an all-rounded journey.
Enjoy sci-fi series that play with two timelines? Have a special spot for cults and mysteries? Meet Archive 81. The multiple genre-straddling show stars Mamoudou Athie as Dan Turner, an archivist who takes a gig restoring a collection of damaged videotapes from the ’90s. He gets far more than he bargained for, drawn into an investigation of a mysterious cult and a young woman who may or may not be dead. A supernatural thriller with horror, mystery, noir and sci-fi seeped into its creepy atmosphere, Archive 81 has it all.
Stranger Things (2016—)
It wouldn’t be a best list without Stranger Things. If somehow you’ve missed the Duffer Brothers’ ode to ’80s horror and Steven Spielberg, things are about to get tubular. We follow El, a near-mute girl who was the subject of scientific experiments. She develops telekinetic powers, which she uses to fend off monsters who invade from a frightening alternative dimension. The world of Indiana, Hawkins, is lovingly detailed for anyone in need of an ’80s nostalgia hit and the misfit characters, played by a stellar young cast, are part of everything that makes this show a tour de force.
Full disclosure: Netflix sadly canceled Travelers after its third season, but this tightly plotted sci-fi out of Canada does manage to end with an ambitious bang. We start with Marcy, a disabled woman who’s beaten up after helping a friend escape thugs. She dies — then comes back to life. This strong character-driven sci-fi reveals its secrets in clever ways, following operatives from the future tasked with preventing the collapse of society but also navigating the tricky territory of living a double life.
While Charlie Brooker’s bleak tech anthology series can be hit and miss, at its best, Black Mirror packs its mini-movies with an exploration of futuristic technological ideas through painfully human stories. One of those is San Junipero, following two women in the ’80s (cue banging soundtrack) as they fall for each other in ways they couldn’t do in their “real” lives outside the beach city. The tech aspect is revealed with genius timing and, in general, the show explores the consequences of our plugged-in lives in disturbing and occasionally uplifting ways.
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If The 100 looks like your standard teen drama, prepare to have your expectations exceeded. There’s a reason this post-apocalyptic series scored seven seasons: The 100 brings rich world-building and moral dilemmas that push the stereotypical characters into unique, compelling places. The 100 in question are a generation of juvenile detainees sent to Earth to determine whether it’s habitable post-apocalypse. 100 percent give this one a go.
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