How Doctor Strange 2's Delay Affected The Spider-Man: No Way Home Script

As all you movie buffs out there are painfully aware, Covid has wreaked havoc on Hollywood's release schedule for the past two years. It's been a particularly big problem for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, given how connected its films and series are and the way their stories feed into one another. In the case of "Spider-Man: No Way Home," writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers were still developing the movie's script when the MCU's release slate rearranged itself around them as though someone had opened the gateway to the Mirror Dimension, with "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" now scheduled to come out after Spidey's big adventure rather than before.

Admittedly, the "Doctor Strange" sequel had already been threatening to cause trouble for the MCU's third "Spider-Man" movie before that. After Scott Derrickson stepped down as director in January 2020, Sam Raimi was quickly brought in to replace him, with "Loki" head writer Michael Waldron coming abroad to rewrite the "Multiverse of Madness" script shortly after and keep it moving forward as planned. Yet, even at the time, it felt like the film would inevitably be delayed, if only to spare Raimi and his crew the headache of having to oversee a rushed production and, in turn, avoid causing potential issues for "No Way Home:" a movie in which Stephen Strange casts a spell to alter reality at Peter Parker's request.

You Know Nothing, Stephen Strange

Speaking to Variety, McKenna explained how the script for "Spider-Man: No Way Home" was ultimately affected by "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" being pushed behind it in the MCU's Phase 4 line-up:

"We were actually working off of things that were happening in 'Doctor Strange 2,' and trying to incorporate them into our script. 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?'"

As Mckenna pointed out, these release date changes might've inadvertently benefitted the stories for both films. The idea of Strange, as hubristic as he can be, tampering with the fabric of reality in "No Way Home" would've required a greater suspension of disbelief if he had already gone through all the chaos that "Multiverse of Madness" promises to unleash upon his life, much less the larger MCU (judging by its teaser trailer). Plus, knowing that Strange has already screwed with the multiverse once before, that gives Karl Mordo all the more reason to come for his neck in "Multiverse of Madness," with the events of "No Way Home" having reaffirmed his belief that there are just too many dang wizards in the world.

"Spider-Man: No Way Home" is now playing in theaters, with "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" arriving on May 6, 2022.