Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness may not be based on any one, particular comic book storyline, but it does draw heavily from the comics in one area. The superhero costumes seen in the movie look like they’ve jumped right off the page and into live-action.
Now that the sequel is about to hit Blu-ray and DVD and it’s safe to talk about all the cameos in the movie, let’s dig deeper into the costumes of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and why this MCU movie literally wears its comic book influences on her sleeve. We’ve even got creator commentary from the film’s costume designer, Graham Churchyard, who reveals some surprising details about the inspirations behind these MCU suits.
The Doctors Strange
Benedict Cumberbatch plays no fewer than four versions of Doctor Strange in this sequel. While the main character’s costume is similar to the versions we’ve seen in past movies, it has been upgraded with a slightly brighter, comic book-ier color palette.
We also see this Strange and his “Sinister Strange” counterpart manifest a third eye on their foreheads. In the comics, that third eye represents the power of the Eye of Agamotto, but in the MCU, it’s a telltale sign that Stephen Strange has been corrupted by dark magicks.
Then there’s Defender Strange, the version we meet in the film’s opening, and who returns in the climax as a zombie puppet. His costume is very closely based on Marvel’s 2012 Defenders comic, when Stephen Strange ditched his Cloak of Levitation and rocked a distinctive red and blue look. Even he wasn’t brave enough to go full ponytail, though.
Finally, while we only briefly see the Earth-838 version of Strange in the movie, it’s worth pointing out that this character has a very coiffed, ’70s-inspired hairdo, evoking the work of classic Doctor Strange artists like Gene Colan and Marshall Rogers . In fact, this version of Strange was originally planned to wear a blue cloak inspired by the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko Doctor Strange comics.
Until Wandavision, Wanda Maximoff settled for wearing a functional costume that only loosely recreated the character’s comic book suit. Not so anymore. Not only is she wearing the iconic headdress and robes now, Doctor Strange 2 adds to that new look with a black undersuit. That color scheme hearkens back to the 2015 Scarlet Witch series and the striking cover art of David Aja.
Actress Xochitl Gomez definitely dresses the part in her role as America Chavez. America’s costume is practically 1:1 with the comic book incarnation, right down to the custom-painted denim jacket and the star-shaped portals she forms with her powers. The one difference is that the MCU America has a slightly grungier look, denoting the fact that she’s a multiversal refugee constantly on the run from the Scarlet Witch.
We’ve reached the point in the MCU when even talking green minotaurs are fair game. The movie introduced Rintrah as one of the many sorcerers defending Kamar Taj from the Scarlet Witch. But whereas the movie version wears traditional robes denoting his status as a magical trainee, in the comics Rintrah tends to wear a cloak… if he chooses to wear anything at all.
Marvel Cinematic Universe: Every Upcoming Movie and TV Show
X-Men fans got a big treat when Multiverse of Madness introduced the MCU’s first mutant – none other than Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier. But this wasn’t any version of Xavier we’d seen before, as his costume proved. The combination of the olive green suit and the yellow hoverchair call back to the ’90s-era X-Men comics and the art of comics superstars like Jim Lee.
But this look is also meant to pay homage to the Lee-inspired X-Men: The Animated Series, hence the needle drop of that iconic theme song.
The Inhumans TV series gave us one version of Black Bolt and his royal family, though at this point it’s anyone’s guess whether that series is still part of the MCU canon (or really, if it ever was). But Doctor Strange 2 shows us a different version of Black Bolt wearing a much more comic book-accurate costume, tuning fork and everything. Jack Kirby would be proud.
One of the many differences on Earth-838 is that Maria Rambeau, not Carol Danvers, became Captain Marvel. In the comics, Maria’s daughter Monica has shared the Captain Marvel name with Carol. But rather than adapting one of her costumes, the series draws from a short-lived Carol Danvers costume introduced in the build-up to 2015’s Secret Wars. At the time, Carol was wearing a black and silver variant of her traditional red and blue suit, and that costume has now made its live-action debut. It makes sense to pay homage to that storyline, as the Incursions referenced in Multiverse of Madness are a huge part of the plot in Secret Wars.
After months of rumor and speculation, John Krasinski made his MCU debut as Mister Fantastic in Doctor Strange 2. And while Reed Richards’ rugged costume hearkens back more to past FF movies than anything else, his beard is definitely straight from the comics. Reed’s beard is another look that debuted in Secret Wars, and it’s stuck around ever since.
Hayley Atwell voices a version of Captain Carter in Marvel’s What If…? And Doctor Strange 2 gives her the chance to play another version in live-action, one who wears basically the same exact costume. The idea of an alternate universe Peggy who becomes a super-soldier was introduced not in the comics, but in the mobile game Marvel’s Puzzle Quest. Marvel has since given us Captain Carter in the comics too, though that version is currently wearing a brand new costume we hope to see in live-action one day.
Multiverse of Madness saves its biggest cameo for last, with Charlize Theron’s Clea popping up to recruit Stephen Strange to save the multiverse. More than any other character in the film, Clea looks like she walked right off the page of a Steve Ditko Doctor Strange comic, between her stark white hair and flamboyant purple costume.
Not every actress could pull off such a bold look, but we like to think there’s a reason they cast Theron in the role.
What’s your favorite costume from the Multiverse of Madness? Let us know in the comments below.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.