In an alternate reality, somewhere in the multiverse if you will, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness would have hit theaters today. Let us rewind the clock, shall we? The date is July 20, 2019. Avengers: Endgame has been released. Marvel Studios is on stage at San Diego Comic-Con laying out its massive future plans. As part of those plans, the Doctor Strange sequel is finally released. At the time, it is given a May 7, 2021 release date. Unfortunately, much has changed since that fateful day.

It is not uncommon for studios to do some light shuffling with the release calendar. Release dates change. It's just part of the business. But Hollywood was dealt a massive blow in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. With movie theaters closed all around the world and the box office all but non-existent for months on end, near-countless movies were delayed, and we're only just now starting to come out of that. Not only did that affect movies that were in the can, but tons of movies, particularly large blockbusters, were prevented from beginning production over health and safety concerns. Doctor Strange 2 was among that group.

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In the end, Disney and Marvel Studios had to delay release dates for all of its Phase 4 MCU movies multiple times. Interestingly enough, 2021 was set up to be the first year that four MCU movies were released in the same calendar year. That will still hold true, though it will be a different batch of titles. Originally, it was going to be Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Thor: Love and Thunder and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Now, it is going to be Black Widow, Shang-Chi, Spider-Man: No Way Home and Eternals.

While many movies were simply pushed back, this is a unique case as so much has changed since the sequel was first announced. Scott Derrickson, who directed 2016's Doctor Strange, was originally slated to return. He even appeared at SDCC, teasing that they were going to make the first scary MCU movie. C. Robert Cargill, Derrickson's frequent collaborator, was also going to return. But Derrickson ultimately left the director's chair over creative differences, paving the way for Sam Raimi, known for his work on the original live-action Spider-Man trilogy, as well as The Evil Dead franchise, to take over. Michael Waldron was hired to pen the screenplay. Waldon also ended up serving as the head writer of the upcoming Loki series.

Plot details largely remain under wraps for the movie, even though filming has largely wrapped up. We do know that Elizabeth Olsen will return as the Scarlet Witch following the events of WandaVision. Benedict Wong (Wong), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Mordo) and Rachel McAdams (Christine Palmer) are also set to reprise their roles. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is currently scheduled to arrive in theaters on March 25, 2022. You can check out the original announcement from the Marvel Studios Twitter account.