MCU Events That Could've Caused Phase 4's Multiverse Madness – Screen Rant

Multiverse madness is coming to the MCU in Doctor Strange 2, and it looks like there’ll be multiple contributing factors. Here’s every possibility.
We know multiverse madness is coming to the MCU, but we don’t know what causes it – here are all the possible contributing factors. With a Quantum Realm here and a pocket dimension there, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been threatening to transform into a Marvel Cinematic Multiverse for quite time. Phase 4 finally pays off the hints, with WandaVisionLokiWhat If…? and Spider-Man: No Way Home all relying heavily on the multiverse for creative inspiration, culminating in a big, reality-shattering shindig in Doctor Strange & The Multiverse of Madness.
When the MCU multiverse started coming into view, fans immediately began pondering what would cause the inter-dimensional cracks. Many assumed one big event would be the trigger – a signal for mutants, parallel selves, and Sony standouts to cross the divide. As Phase 4 forges ahead, however, it’s rapidly becoming clear that “multiverse madness” isn’t the result of any one event. Instead, it seems the reality calamity will happen because various MCU heroes and villains have been chipping away at the integrity of their dimension.
Related: Secret Wars Is Avengers 5’s Best Multiverse Pay-Off
Assuming multiverse madness is the collective result of several smaller cracks instead of one big swing, what could be contributing factors? Bringing together misdeeds from both the big screen and Disney+’s streaming content, here’s who to blame for the MCU’s incoming multiverse troubles.
Avengers: Infinity War certainly wasn’t the MCU’s first increment upon alternate realities. 2016’s Doctor Strange revealed how the Sorcerer Supreme protects our world from inter-dimensional threats such as Dormammu, and without folks like the Ancient One or Stephen Strange, this universe would be swallowed up in a mass of tentacles. Given how long Sanctum Sanctorum has stood against such enemies, we can assume such monsters are handled without leaving any fractures in the multiverse.
Individual usage of Infinity Stones doesn’t seem to cause much damage either, and the Time Variance Authority confirm in Loki that the Avengers’ time heist was an officially sanctioned breaking of history. The quartet of Infinity Gauntlet snaps across both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, however, might’ve left a mark.
Gathering all 6 colored gems creates a rare power of universe-shifting magnitude. As far as we know, Thanos is the first being to achieve this feat, and the Mad Titan makes 2 snaps in quick succession – one to wipe of half of all life, another to destroy his prized gauntlet and prevent the act being undone. 5 years later (a mere blip in the universe’s long history), Bruce Banner snaps to bring those who disappeared back to life and, never one to be outdone, Tony Stark uses the Infinity Gauntlet to wipe out Thanos and his army forever.
Related: Eternals Theory: Hulk’s Endgame Snap Brought Back The Celestials (Not Deviants)
The repeated use of such awesome power was obviously necessary in order to protect the MCU, but several characters have theorized that our universe suddenly snapping like a bowl of Rice Krispies harmed the multiverse. In Spider-Man: Far From Home, SHIELD believed the snaps were responsible for Mysterio’s multiverse monsters, and though this ultimately turned out to be a ruse, the point still stands. In Eternals, Ajak (a far more reliable source than Mysterio…) explains how Hulk’s snap harnessed such great energy, a cosmic event called the Emergence was caused. No one should be surprised if the MCU multiverse madness began with Thanos and the Avengers‘ rapid-fire Infinity Gauntlet snaps.
We know the snaps of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame alone haven’t broken the multiverse, otherwise Wong wouldn’t be playing real-life Tekken in Shang-Chi, and Strange wouldn’t be lounging around Sanctum Sanctorum drinking coffee from a comedy mug. The next major MCU event that could’ve widened those cracks comes in the finale of WandaVision, where Wanda Maximoff finally embraces her destiny as the Scarlet Witch.
Previously, Wanda’s magic was – like many MCU superheroes – caused by experimentation with an Infinity Stone, but WandaVision hit the retcon button by claiming Wanda had always possessed magical ability, and HYDRA’s Mind Stone fiddling only amplified the powers already within her. According to Agatha Harkness, Wanda is the mythical “Scarlet Witch” – a figure of prophecy born from “spontaneous creation” who wields chaos magic and poses a grave threat to reality. The corny 1950s ads in Wanda’s sitcom also suggest the Scarlet Witch is a Nexus Being, which Marvel comics describe as someone with enough power to affect probabilities and the future.
Only in WandaVision‘s final battle is Maximoff’s Scarlet Witch transformation completed, and the post-credits scene teases her power growing greater still. With the Scarlet Witch reborn and her chaos magic running rampant (not to mention Elizabeth Olsen’s confirmed presence in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness), it seems inevitable that Wanda has left another crack in the multiverse.
Related: WandaVision: How Scarlet Witch Could Destroy The Multiverse
Disney+’s Loki laid out the multiverse landscape a little clearer for the MCU audience. Once upon a time, an infinite amount of parallel universes existed alongside each other, until the 3000s when a scientist breached the barrier between worlds. Some variants of this scientist had wicked intentions, and began using their knowledge to rule over cross-universe empires as Kang the Conqueror. Solving the problem he created, the scientist bunched together every competing universe into a single Sacred Timeline and stood guard as He Who Remains.
Loki‘s season 1 finale ends with Sylvie Laufeyson – a Loki variant – reaching the Citadel at the End of Time and Space and murdering He Who Remains in revenge for watching her timeline get pruned as a child. This single act of violence could leave one of the biggest scars upon Marvel’s multiverse. Removing He Who Remains as the Sacred Timeline’s guardian isn’t a problem in itself. After all, a multiverse was the how reality worked before He Who Remains stepped in, so Sylvie is only restoring the natural order.
The real problem is that Sylvie effectively just released Kang the Conqueror upon an unsuspecting MCU. By unseating He Who Remains, his evil-minded variants are now roaming freely, as demonstrated by the giant new addition to TVA headquarters – a statue in honor of Mr. the Conqueror. Invading universes and changing history to his whim, Kang could be cracking the MCU’s multiverse as we speak.
No one’s completely sure whether Disney+’s What If…? animated anthology should be considered true MCU canon, or whether it’s merely a curious diversion from live-action continuity. Assuming What If…? does have a place in official canon (for argument’s sake only), the Doctor Strange episode could’ve taken a major toll upon the multiverse, more than Peggy Carter time traveling or the emergence of an Ultron-Vision hybrid.
Related: What If…? Proves Doctor Strange Would Be The MCU’s Most Dangerous Villain
The death of Christine Palmer in episode 4 transforms Doctor Stephen Strange into a bitter magician hellbent on bringing back his beloved. Along the way, Strange absorbs a biblical amount of power harnessed from inter-dimensional creatures, and finally breaks the “absolute point” of Christine’s demise. In doing so, Doctor Strange corrupts his very reality, and that entire universe is destroyed, leaving him alone in the center to have a long, hard think about his actions. The dissolution of Strange Supreme’s universe (and the potential for him to now inhabit a different one) could potentially cause another fracture in the multiverse. Strange is the only What If…? character to directly interact with The Watcher thus far, and that cosmic awareness could allow him to continue destroying reality beyond just his own universe.
The MCU’s latest feature-length Phase 4 offering, Shang-Chi & The Legend of the Ten Rings, isn’t heavy in multiverse lore, but doesn’t drop the theme completely. The mystical land of Ta-Lo is introduced, and though Wenwu seeks to destroy the realm, Shang-Chi and his allies save the day, thereby avoiding any potential damage to the multiverse. Of more interest is Shang-Chi‘s post-credits scene, where Simu Liu’s character is approached by Wong, Bruce Banner and Captain Marvel, all of whom have taken a special interest in the Ten Rings artifact. The MCU hasn’t yet revealed how, when and where the Ten Rings were created, but Wong explains that Shang-Chi’s magic friendship bracelets recently started emitting a beacon across the entire multiverse.
The signal itself could be adding more pressure to the multiverse’s creaking walls – breaking down the barrier to let the Ten Rings’ original creator inside. Even if the signal is nothing more than a multiversal distress call, whatever the Ten Rings are summoning could be slowly forcing its way into our dimension, adding another crack to the increasingly fragile-looking MCU multiverse.
Though the plot of Chloé Zhao’s upcoming Eternals movie is still at least half-wrapped in mystery, the latest trailer revealed a devastating event called the Emergence is rapidly approaching. Most likely, the Emergence is when the Deviants return to Earth – the very creatures Ikaris and the gang were charged with defeating by the Celestials. Ajak confirms Hulk’s Infinity Gauntlet snap started the Emergence, so while it’s not yet known where the Deviants are emerging from, it clearly isn’t a resort in the Bahamas. The mutated monsters were away somewhere far, far from Earth, and now Hulk’s snap has ripped open their cage.
Related: What Is Phase 4’s New Apocalypse: Eternals’ Emergence Explained
Though the nitty-gritty of the Emergence remains to be seen, Eternals‘ plot sounds like another tear in the MCU’s multiverse tapestry. Perhaps the awesome energy generated by the Infinity Gauntlet cracked the barrier between us and the Deviants’ dimensional prison, and the villains are now forcing their way through, compounding the damage already there.
One of the biggest culprits behind MCU multiverse madness is surely revealed by the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer. Following the reveal of Spidey’s secret identity in Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker wants the world to forget he’s behind the mask, and enlists a bored Doctor Strange to make that happen. Against his (and Wong’s) better judgement, Strange agrees, and sets about casting a spell to remove Peter Parker’s superhero antics from the world’s collective memory. Unfortunately, Peter’s greatest superpower is an uncanny inability to stop talking, and his interference messes with the casting, causing a multiverse split that invites Sony’s Marvel characters into the MCU sandbox. Strange is less than pleased, and it’s very obvious that Peter’s actions have damaged the wider multiverse.
All indications point to Strange and Peter fixing their mess (or most of it, at least) by Spider-Man: No Way Home‘s final credits, sending the likes of Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock and Jamie Foxx’s Electro back to their own studio. But that doesn’t mean Peter Parker’s spell won’t leave lingering damage on the multiverse, adding to the cracks caused by Thanos, Hulk, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Sylvie, Spider-Man, Kang, the Deviants, Doctor Strange, and anyone else knocking on the door of reality. Exactly who picks up the repair bill will surely be revealed by the end of MCU Phase 4.
More: Spider-Man Will Fight The Multiverse Sinister Six In No Way Home – Theory Explained
Craig first began contributing to Screen Rant in 2016, several years after graduating college, and has been ranting ever since, mostly to himself in a darkened room. Having previously written for various sports and music outlets, Craig’s interest soon turned to TV and film, where a steady upbringing of science fiction and comic books finally came into its own. Craig has previously been published on sites such as Den of Geek, and after many coffee-drenched hours hunched over a laptop, part-time evening work eventually turned into a full-time career covering everything from the zombie apocalypse to the Starship Enterprise via the TARDIS. Since joining the Screen Rant fold, Craig has been involved in breaking news stories and mildly controversial ranking lists, but now works predominantly as a features writer. Jim Carrey is Craig’s top acting pick and favorite topics include superheroes, anime and the unrecognized genius of the High School Musical trilogy.

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