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“Interview – Doctor Strange 2 writer Michael Waldron talks about working with the film’s amazing cast”
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is another major hit for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, breaking picture office records. ComingSoon’s Julia Delbel spoke with the film’s writer, Michael Waldron, about Wanda’s transformation into a villain, the film’s incredible cast, and its portrayal of queer representation.
Delbel, Julia – So I believe Wanda was one of the most important characters in this Multiverse of Madness movie, and I think a lot of people, especially women, who watch WandaVision and see themselves enjoying the health story mental health and rehabilitation he tells, are thrown off balance by the bad trick. In your opinion, what made this plot the logical continuation of this character?
Waldron, Michael – Well, I don’t suppose I wanted to neglect everything in WandaVision. I’m a big fan of it, and thought it was a great story about Wanda making mistakes without even acknowledging it as she tried to come to terms with her own sadness. She finds out who she really is in a whole new light by the end of it. She gets the Darkhold and learns the truth about her destiny as the Scarlet Witch, but that doesn’t take away from her trauma, grief, or anything else. She does the right thing at the end of WandaVision, but I don’t think she’s fully recovered by the end of the episode. She just frees the villagers and leaves, and we’re gone. We saw her reading from the Darkhold at the end of this show, and the Darkhold is the book of the damned, a terrible book.
When it enters you, I believe it will attack your strongest desires as well as your weakest aspects. It is, I believe, what drives Wanda to the point that she will do anything to achieve what she wants. But I feel like she still has a defensible position in our film, which is that America is not a child, but a supernatural person, as she argues. It is a moving multiversal portal. One defense she has is one who knows what it might bring. “You break the rules and become a hero,” she tells Stephen. I do it, and I become the enemy,” and they keep pushing it, and I think they’re pushing it to the point of breaking. She does horrible things, which is sad and which I despise. I hate to see characters I admire do horrible things, but I believe this was honest character growth.
In Multiverse of Madness we learned more about the Darkhold and the Book of Vishanti, but we also discovered something important about the lore of dreams in the MCU, which is that they are windows to other realities and other versions of the self. I noticed there was a reference to something called the Department of Nightmares in another project you worked on, Loki. Did that have anything to do with it? Maybe we’ll see that in season two of this show because those two Loki and Sylvie are versions of each other? Is it possible that they dream of each other because they are versions of each other?
Loki dreaming of entering Sylvie’s body? That’s the pitch you’re making… I have to hang up and make a call. It’s a fantastic suggestion.
It’s something I saw on Twitter, not something I made up. So Twitter, thank you!
Don’t forget to mention Twitter. You know, it’s quite intriguing… Dreamwalking is a tricky spell to master. If anyone could do it, I’d say Wanda and Strange are the only ones who can do it, but Loki is very powerful magic, and Sylvie is too. So who can say? I am not sure. It’s an intriguing concept.
There were a lot of interesting people in this movie. We have great lineup for Illuminati, but I’m sure there have been many suggestions as to who should be included. I’m sure there’s been a lot of discussion. So how did you go about selecting these specific characters?
“Alright, what’s our dream lineup?” It was like. We’ll never have them,” we said, and then we did. It was exactly how I felt. That’s how things went, it seems. I still can’t believe we got who we got. We also wanted it to be grounded in reality: “If I were Stephen Strange of Universe 838, who would I choose to form an Illuminati?” That’s how we ended up in this group.
Have you ever been motivated by the chemistry and improvisation of the performers in both this and Loki to adjust the script or development to be influenced by them? And, as you indicated, adjustments have been made during the COVID disruptions.
Yes absolutely. Everything was done in consultation with the interpreters. Every day, the performers, me and Sam worked together to polish and perfect the script. We inherited Tom from Loki, and what a blessing it was. I was able to collaborate with him to perfect the voice of the character. Other than that, we were creating a number of these characters from scratch, like Mobius, Ren Slayer, B15, Miss Minutes, and even He Who Remains. Whereas in Doctor Strange I was just beginning to take on so many roles that these incredible actors, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benny Wong, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lizzy… They had these characters long before I arrived. So it was our job to pay attention to them and make sure we didn’t stray from their interpretations of these characters as portrayed in the MCU over the years.
This film, along with Loki, are two of three Marvel Cinematic Universe films currently including LGBT characters. Given that you wrote for two of them, what did you learn or take away from the writing process, the audience reaction, and what ended up on screen was the original purpose of those times?
It is an obligation. It most certainly is, and you should treat it as such, as we did in both circumstances. What was on the screen in Loki was clearly what was intended. This exchange between him and Sylvie where he admits to being bisexual. This comes out in conversation as they get to know each other. It seemed like an honest and straightforward approach to acknowledging him. It’s just the truth of the character with America and her mothers, as you can see. That’s the problem, I guess; you just want to stay true to the personalities and who they are. It all depends on how wisely you handle it, because mere recognition does not always imply satisfying representation or representation. Are you handling it conscientiously and I think being true to the character of the story you’re telling at the time?
To sum up, how is the Star Wars movie going?
It’s good. It’s funny. I’m having a good time. I have fun producing something that somehow feels more original just because Star Wars has a bigger canvas, a bigger expanse of time and space. Yes, I’m having a good time. It’s nice not having to make a sequel at all.