Ranker Rundown: Exploring The Mad, Mad Multiverse With Doctor Strange

By the Eye of Agamotto, Marvel's resident sorcerer and surgeon is back with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Not that Dr. Stephen Strange really went anywhere after making his movie debut in 2016's Doctor Strange; the master of magic showed up in a Thor movie and two Avengers movies, and was last seen wrangling Spider-Men in Spider-Man: No Way Home. He finally has a follow-up solo movie, though, and it looks strange as hell, appropriately enough.

The solo sequel is overdue, considering Dr. Strange ranks No. 7 on Ranker's roundup of the Best Characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a list with no fewer than 45,000 votes from Marvel fans. That places the Master of the Mystic Arts well ahead of MCU faves like Black Panther, Hulk, and Black Widow. 

It's a bit of a stretch to call Multiverse of Madness a solo sequel, since director Sam Raimi has stuffed it full of Marvel characters and concepts, making this a payoff to multiple narrative streams from prior films and Disney+ shows. Seriously, it's a lot to keep track of, which is exactly why we're here to run through what you should really know when hopping, skipping, and jumping between dimensions at a theater near you.

Photo: Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

  • The Doctor Is In, And He's More Popular Than You Might Think
    Photo: Avengers: Infinity War / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    The Doctor Is In, And He's More Popular Than You Might Think

    Strange showed up deep into the MCU, with Doctor Strange hitting in Phase III of Marvel's elaborate and increasingly sprawling plan. Since we're only in Phase IV, the goateed superhero hasn't had much time to endear himself to audiences, but voters have put him at No. 4 among the Greatest Avengers Characters, right between Spider-Man and Captain America. 

    Fans definitely respect the power of Strange's sorcery: He's the No. 1 answer to the comic book shop mega-question “Which Avenger Would Win in an All-Out Fight?” Unsurprisingly, he also tops the list of Strongest MCU Characters, with Asgardian thunder-bringer Thor just behind him in both cases.

    Thanks largely to the scene-stealing work of his sentient cloak in the movies, Strange's crimson cape also ranks an easy No. 1 on our list of the Finest Capes in Comics. Speaking of Strange's big-screen debut, the first film ranks conspicuously high on our list of the Greatest Comic Book Movies of All Time, coming in at No. 13, wedged right between Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises.

  • Strange Couldn't Beat Gandalf In A Wizard Battle Royale, According To Fans
    Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. Pictures

    Strange Couldn't Beat Gandalf In A Wizard Battle Royale, According To Fans

    Strange ranks second on our list imagining Which Fictional Wizard Would Win in a Magical Mega-Duel. Thousands of voters have asserted that Marvel's magician would even beat Albus Dumbledore, the Hogwarts headmaster who stands tall as the only wizard Voldemort (No. 7 on the list) truly fears. If Strange is stronger than the likes of Dumbledore, Voldemort, Merlin, and more, then who could possibly beat him?

    Gandalf, according to Ranker voters. J.R.R. Tolkien's signature wizard takes the cake thanks to his 2,000 years of experience, magical acumen, participation in multiple armed conflicts, and general vibe of wizardly wisdom. Interestingly, the length of their beards do not seem to play a major part in readers' calculations. Gandalf has a bushy setup roughly 2 feet long, but Strange has a short, well-maintained little goatee. And Dumbledore, coming in third, has the most archetypal wizard beard at about 3 feet long.

    Also, all three of these wizards have died: Gandalf the Grey perished and became Gandalf the White after his confrontation with the flaming Balrog, Doctor Strange spent five years dusted after Thanos's snap, and Dumbledore was dropped from the top of the Astronomy Tower. Of the three, though, only the last stayed dead.

  • Don't Forget - Wong Is The Current Sorcerer Supreme
    Photo: Avengers: Infinity War / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Don't Forget - Wong Is The Current Sorcerer Supreme

    In the comics, Doctor Strange famously holds the title of Sorcerer Supreme and has done so pretty consistently for more than half a century. Yet in the MCU, the Sorcerer Supreme is currently Wong, the ostensible sidekick played by Benedict Wong. 

    The sly magical veteran is a fan favorite, easily topping our list of MCU Characters Who Made a Major Impact with Barely Any Screen Time; between Doctor Strange and two Avengers films, Wong clocks just about 11 minutes and 15 seconds. He's also No. 1 among Low-Key Underrated Characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ranked. In both instances, he's followed in second place by Happy Hogan, the Marvel fixture played by Jon Favreau since Iron Man way back in 2008.

    As established in Spider-Man: No Way Home, Wong inherited the Sorcerer Supreme title previously held by the Ancient One because Doctor Strange was snapped out of existence for five years in Avengers: Infinity War. Or that why's Strange claims it's not his his title, anyways. Wong might not hold it for too long: In the comic pages, the likes of Tony Stark and Loki are among the Characters Who've Been the Marvel Universe's Sorcerer Supreme



  • Sam Raimi Returns To Superhero Cinema After Defining It
    Photo: Spider-Man / Sony Pictures

    Sam Raimi Returns To Superhero Cinema After Defining It

    Director Sam Raimi's Spider-Man may look quaint now, after 20 years of uninterrupted superhero adventures, but in 2002, it was seismic. The first superhero hyper-blockbuster still ranks No. 16 on the list of the Greatest Comic Book Movies of All Time, well ahead of MCU favorites like Black Panther, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and DC's acclaimed Wonder Woman. The famous upside-down kiss between Tobey Maguire's Peter and Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane ranks No. 1 among the All-Time Best Movie Kisses. And Spider-Man 2 remains an even heavier hitter: It ranks No. 4 on our lists of the Best Superhero Sequels and Action Movie Sequels That Are Better Than the Originals, just ahead of the all-time classic The Road Warrior.

    Raimi's much-maligned Spider-Man 3, meanwhile, still isn't exactly beloved. Fans have voted it to the top of Movies With Too Many Villains, just ahead of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Batman & Robin. Even specific moments remain infamous - Spider-Man's showdown with Venom tops our list of the Most Anticlimactic “Final Fights” In Movies. Peter Parker's evil jazz club dance, meanwhile, ranks second among Ridiculous Moments When a Great Franchise Officially Jumped the Shark.

    His last Spidey had plenty of behind-the-scenes drama that can't be chalked up to Raimi, though. And Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige's ambition has long been that Multiverse of Madness could be “the first scary MCU film.” Who better to do that than the man who pioneered fun, splattery spook-a-blasts with the Evil Dead movies?

  • Don't Assume Reed Richard Will Look Like John Krasinski Forever
    Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Don't Assume Reed Richard Will Look Like John Krasinski Forever

    There have already been three big-screen versions of Fantastic Four scion Reed Richards. None of these versions have exactly nailed the super-genius who dabbles in megalomania. When Disney acquired 20th Century Fox and got the rights to Fantastic Four (and the X-Men, among others) fans immediately started wondering who might play these foundational characters in the MCU. 

    Ranker voters made it clear that John Krasinski was their top choice on our list of Fan Suggestions for the New Fantastic Four. Normally these type of fan castings stay in the world of Tumblr but when the Illuminati are revealed in Multiverse of Madness, fans got their wish. While he came off as more concerned soccer Dad than a scientist with the power of kill God, fans seemed pretty satisfied with the casting and were looking forward seeing Krasinski in the already announced FF MCU movie.  

    Leave it to the director's commentary to put those dreams on the back-burner. Sam Raimi revealed in the film's commentary that Kevin Feige decided to cast Krasinski solely to please the fans but there are no guarantees that he'll play Richards in the actual movie. This is a multiverse after all, where there are three Spider-Mans and multiple Stranges. So just because there's one version of Mister Fantastic with Krasinski doesn't mean the MCU-proper version will look like Jim from The Office.

  • Olsen Is Riding High After 'WandaVision,' But Sam Raimi Still Hasn't Seen It
    Photo: WandaVision / Disney+

    Olsen Is Riding High After 'WandaVision,' But Sam Raimi Still Hasn't Seen It

    She's not in the title, but this sequel is a big moment for Wanda Maximoff, which means it's a big moment for Elizabeth Olsen. Up until WandaVision, the Scarlet Witch was relegated to supporting roles in Avengers movies and Captain America: Civil War, which is basically a Diet Avengers movie. But her Disney+ series allowed Olsen to take center stage alongside Paul Bettany's Vision. The show appeals to viewers for more than superpowered fisticuffs: Voters have pushed WandaVision to No. 9 among the Best TV Sitcoms of 2021 and No. 2 among the Best TV Shows About Marriage, ahead of even I Love Lucy in the fourth spot. 

    As such, Olsen feels on the cusp of next-level stardom. She's in second place on the list of Celebrities Who Should Be A-Listers, behind an Oscar-winner and way ahead of fellow MCU standbys Anthony Mackie and Bettany. At No. 6, she's also conspicuously high on our list of Avengers Actors With the Best (Non-MCU) Filmographies, between Zoe Saldaña and Brie Larson. 

    This might all be news to Raimi, who wasn't even aware of Olsen's show until Multiverse of Madness was deep into production. “I never even saw all of WandaVision," he reveals to Rolling Stone. "I’ve just seen key moments of some episodes that I was told directly impact our storyline.”