With news that director Scott Derrickson has parted ways with Marvel Studios over creative differences on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Sam Raimi will reportedly take his place, the door to a very special opportunity can now be opened. While Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy has long since gone and passed, the nature of the Marvel multiverse would allow for the fan-favorite director to revisit the Wall-Crawler one last time to provide closure on the story he never got to finish telling.
The multiverse was first mentioned in the original Doctor Strange movie when Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One schools Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange. She explains how our universe is only one in an infinite number. “Who are you in this vast Multiverse, Mr. Strange?” she asks him. It looks like the sequel will answer that question. And while the film’s main plot has something to do with Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch teaming up to combat some threat spawned from the multiverse, Raimi could use it for the ultimate fan service: bringing back Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man.
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The parallel realities of the multiverse reflect our own world but with various differences. One world might be overrun by a zombie plague while another one is populated by cartoon animals. The world of the Raimi Spider-Man films could be one of these alternate universes, meaning that Doctor Strange could cross paths with Maguire’s Spidey during his journey through the multiverse. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse already showed various Marvel characters from different realities meeting one another, so Doctor Strange 2 would just be making that happen in live-action.
In 2004’s Spider-Man 2, Raimi even included a reference to the good doctor when J. Jonah Jameson’s assistant, Hoffman, pitched “Doctor Strange” as a name for the escaped Doctor Octavius. “That’s pretty good, but it’s taken,” Jameson says. While played for laughs, that moment seemingly confirms a Doctor Strange exists in the Raimi-verse, so it wouldn’t be a stretch for the MCU Strange to cross paths with that version of himself and bump into Maguire’s Peter Parker along the way.
Speaking of Jameson, the credits stinger for Spider-Man: Far From Home featured JK Simmons reprising his role in order to curse the name of Spider-Man. While this was technically the MCU’s version of the character and not the Jameson from Raimi-verse, it shows that Sony and Marvel Studios are certainly open to the idea of utilizing actors and characters from the Raimi trilogy.
Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy ended on a sour note thanks to Spider-Man 3, and Raimi’s plans for a fourth Spider-Man movie never saw the light of day because Sony decided to reboot the franchise instead, so revisiting that world via this Doctor Strange sequel would give him the chance to properly tie up loose ends.
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Raimi himself isn’t a very big fan of Spider-Man 3. In a 2015 interview with Collider he got out his feelings, saying, “It’s a movie that just didn’t work very well. I tried to make it work, but I didn’t really believe in all the characters, so that couldn’t be hidden from people who loved Spider-Man. If the director doesn’t love something, it’s wrong of them to make it when so many other people love it. I think [raising the stakes after Spider-Man 2] was the thinking going into it, and I think that’s what doomed us. I should’ve just stuck with the characters and the relationships and progressed them to the next step and not tried to top the bar.”
Obviously Doctor Strange going on a full-fledged side-adventure with Maguire’s Spidey would detract from the main story, but a lot could be done even with a small cameo. Even if we just get a short scene that shows that everything turned out alright for Peter and Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane Watson, it would mean a lot to fans who were left unsatisfied with what went down in Spider-Man 3. Raimi could finally give us a taste of how he would have progressed those character relationships after all these years. His take on Spider-Man is beloved by millions of fans and is remembered for helping kick off the modern superhero movie craze, so if he doesn’t use Doctor Strange’s jaunt through the multiverse as an opportunity to give that world a proper send-off, then that would just be, well, madness.
For more on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, check out our video primer below:
Joshua is Senior Features Editor at IGN. If Pokemon, Green Lantern, or Game of Thrones are frequently used words in your vocabulary, you’ll want to follow him on Twitter @JoshuaYehl and IGN.