Science & Technology

Doctor Strange 2 Release Date Shift Changed Spider-Man’s Plot

Doctor Strange stands in front of his iconic round window surrounded by a bunch of different spells.

Juggling release dates.
Image: Marvel Studios

Release dates rarely, if ever, have an impact on storytelling. Maybe a movie is set during a specific holiday so a studio wants to release it around that time of year. But even then, you can watch a Halloween or Christmas movie anytime you want. One place where release dates have everything to do with story, though, is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and recently, two films changed entirely due to a shift in dates.

Those two movies are Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Whether you’ve seen No Way Home or not, Strange’s new trailer clearly shows what the character learns in Spider-Man: No Way Home impacts his journey in his new film. Like, literally, one film can’t happen without the events of the other. Only, that wasn’t originally the case.

For a long time, Doctor Strange 2 was supposed to come out before Spider-Man: No Way Home. Originally, Doctor Strange 2 was scheduled for May 2021 and Spider-Man just two months later. When both were first moved due to covid, Strange moved to November and Spider-Man to December, which kept the order intact. Eventually though, that shifted again and Spider-Man was set to come before Doctor Strange. Which kiiiiinda posed a problem considering the plots were so intricately connected.

“We were actually working off of things that were happening in Doctor Strange 2, and trying to incorporate them into our script,” No Way Home co-writer Chris McKenna told Variety. “When we started writing, [Strange] knows firsthand the dangers of screwing with these things. Then we changed it so he was a person who doesn’t know that much about the multiverse. But that makes it even more frightening, to start fooling around with these things, because it’s the fear of the unknown. Either way, he was the voice of reason going, ‘You don’t mess with the fate of an individual’—and Peter Parker being naive enough to go, ‘Why not? Why can’t we save these people?’”

And so they flipped it and the rest is history. Spider-Man: No Way Home is one of the biggest hits in recent Hollywood memory and has become an even better lead-in to the Strange sequel. Still, you have to wonder how No Way Home would have been different if Strange had already had a multiverse adventure beforehand. Would he have even made the same mistake? Could he have figured out a better solution? Either way, we’ll never know, but it’s certainly fun to think about how a mere move on the calendar changed two entire movies.

Spider-Man: No Way Home is now in theaters. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be out May 6, 2022.

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