Who Is The Main Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness Villain?

As is often the case, Marvel has been extremely tight-lipped regarding "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." The long-awaited sequel is poised to seemingly reshape the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it, meaning it makes sense, perhaps more than usual, for the House of Ideas to keep this one locked down. But thanks to a toy reveal, we have learned the identity of the villain (or at least one of the villains) that Benedict Cumberbatch's Sorcerer Supreme will be contending with this time around, and it's a bizarre creature called Shuma-Gorath.

Fans will be excused if they've never heard of this particular character, as it's somewhat obscure, at least relative to the scope of the Marvel Comics canon. That being the case, we're here to break down and explain the villain to get you ready for the movie. Here is what you need to know about Shuma-Gorath.

The Comic Book History of Shuma-Gorath

Shuma-Gorath dates back to 1972 when the character was mentioned in "Marvel Premiere" #5, but its first full appearance would come the following year in "Marvel Premiere" #10, published in September 1973. The giant-tentacled extra-dimensional being was created by a pair of comic book legends, Steve Englehart and Frank Brunner. As for the name, it was actually borrowed, shall we say, from a short story by author Robert E. Howard titled "The Curse of the Golden Skull." It involved, appropriately, a dying magician.

Since that initial appearance, the character has appeared in 100 issues spread across various Marvel Comics titles, though they have most commonly been associated with Doctor Strange as an adversary. Shuma-Gorath is native to the extra-dimensional realm and is a godlike being, as well as a member of the group known as the Old Ones (a reference to the horror writing of H.P. Lovecraft). The figure has ruled over hundreds of dimensions. Per Marvel, here is a summation of the character's ancient history on earth:

He is one of the "Old Ones" who came to Earth untold millions of years ago, ruling it and feasting on mankind's ancestors. Though banished in the distant past by the sorcerer Sise-Neg, Shuma returned to Earth and ruled for an age in what would be Cimmeria, fed by blood sacrifice. Over 21,000 years ago, the newly risen god Crom led a shaman to three iron-bound books of magic with which the shaman imprisoned Shuma in what became Mount Crom. Around 10,000 B.C. the newly wed sorcerers Kulan Gath and Vammatar sought to release and enslave the demon, but failed after betraying each other. A century later, Shuma-Gorath was indeed unleashed by the two sorcerers and others, but the barbarian Conan used the Books to banish the demon from Earth.

How Powerful is Shuma-Gorath?

As is often the case with villains in comics, Shuma-Gorath has had a long history of returning to cause problems for the people of earth and has continued to appear in Marvel titles, even recent ones. As for how powerful the character is, Marvel.com has scales to measure character abilities, measuring 1 to 7, with 1 being the lowest and 7 being the highest. Below is a breakdown of the character's various attributes measured on this scale to offer some idea of what Doctor Strange will be up against. Since this was cooked up by the scientists at Marvel, you know it's accurate/ 

Durability: 6

Energy: 7

Fighting Skills: 4

Intelligence: 6

Speed: 5

Strength: 5

As far as specific powers, beyond being a gigantic tentacle monster from another dimension, Shuma-Gortah's powers include (but are not limited to) energy projection, reality manipulation, shapeshifting, levitation, teleportation, various mystical powers, and, perhaps most importantly, immortality. That seemingly makes it a formidable foe.

Who or What is Gargantos?

While it seems (or perhaps seemed) very much like Shuma-Gorath was indeed the villain of this film, several bits of marketing material have confirmed that Marvel Studios is using the name Gargantos to identify the creature. This could mean a few things, so it's worth going over the name being used and why that may or may not ultimately matter. For one, by all appearances, the creature depicted in the trailer for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is indeed Shuma-Gorath. So it does seem that the creature as it exists appears to take its inspiration from the beast of that name.

It is certainly worth mentioning that a more minor character named Gargantos does exist in the Marvel Comics universe, having appeared in "Sub-Mariner" #13 back in 1969. That tentacled creature looked more like a giant octopus and far less like the beast we've seen in various promotional materials. So, what's the deal? It seems that the filmmakers may have opted to go with a name that rolls off the tongue a bit more and sounds a bit more comic book-y than Shuma-Gorath. Or, perhaps this is a bait-and-switch, with the character's real name to be dropped in the movie itself. The point is, everything but the name points to Shuma-Gorath, so that is still the beast fans would do well to become familiar with, given what we know at this stage.

What Does This Mean for the MCU?

While it's difficult to say how, at this juncture, Shuma-Gorath or Gargantos will factor into the events of "Doctor Strange 2," their inclusion is telling. In that, it seems like the MCU is ready to get really weird in certain areas. Not to say various corners of the franchise haven't gotten a bit strange at points, but this is on another level of bizarre ... not to mention that this movie is presumably going to open up the Marvel multiverse in a massive way, along with "Spider-Man: No Way Home." What we can say is that the inclusion is seemingly significant, as Marvel Studios even teased us a bit by including Shuma-Gorath in the fourth episode of "What If...?," which looked at an alternate version of Doctor Strange's origin.

What About the Evil Doctor Strange?

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises in the "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" trailer was the inclusion of the evil Doctor Strange, aka Doctor Strange Supreme. The character appeared previously in several episodes of the animated Disney+ series "What If...?" and showed an alternate take on Stephen Strange who declined to deal with the death of Christine Palmer and, instead, took a darker path, amassing magical power from other beings. This very same version of the character appeared at the end of the trailer, cementing some of the truly wild, multiversal madness at play.

The question is, will Doctor Strange Supreme be the main villain? Or merely an antagonist that Benedict Cumberbatch's Stephen Strange must contend with in paying for the sins of tampering with the multiverse? For the moment, all we can truly do is speculate but, at the very least, it seems there will be more than one villain at play here. The sorcerers are going to have their hands full.

In short? The MCU is about to get wild. Buckle up.

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is currently set to hit theaters on May 6, 2022.