There's Not Nearly Enough [REDACTED] In Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness...and We're Bummed

Spoilers for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" follow.

The moment it was announced that Disney was planning to add the X-Men to the MCU, and then after the events of "Spider-Man: No Way Home," there was only a matter of time before we saw the first actual mutant in a Marvel movie. Still, no matter how many theories and confirmations we had, seeing Sir Patrick Stewart reprise his role as Professor Charles Xavier in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" was a true joy.

What made the moment even better is that aside from Stewart being such a noble spirit that he outright confirmed his cameo appearance rather than lie to us, the cameo did not retcon Xavier's emotional send-off in "Logan." Instead, arguably the biggest surprise of the movie is not the cameo itself, but that this Xavier seems to be the same one from the 1997 "X-Men" carton, making it canon. As The Illuminati make their introduction, we see Stewart emerge in his glorious yellow hoverchair, while the instantly recognizable theme song plays in the background.

It is just the kind of hyper-specific reference that makes the idea of a multiverse exciting, with the possibility of exploring older and lesser-known titles without spending too much time explaining the details — did the "Secret Wars" storyline happen in this universe too? How did the mutants do against Thanos? 

And yet, as cool as those initial five seconds are, it ends up as an empty gesture. Xavier dies not 10 minutes after being introduced, in an absolutely gnarly yet unceremonial way — not unlike the death of the first team in "The Suicide Squad" or the X-Force in "Deadpool 2." It is a devastating moment that honestly bummed me out for the rest of the movie, and it could have easily avoided that. If "No Way Home" could redeem a failed franchise, why couldn't "Multiverse of Madness" give Sir Patrick Stewart more than yet another ugly death?

Professor X is the Kenny of the X-Men universe

Indeed, despite being one of the smartest people in the universe (and Reed Richards was there too), Xavier utterly failed to predict that Scarlet Witch Wanda would pose a bigger threat than ... Doctor Stephen Strange M.D.? Which results in a gruesome sequence where Wanda breaks Xavier's neck and turns Mr. Fantastic into linguini.

This marks the fourth time we see Charles Xavier die in a Marvel movie, so either Sir Patrick Stewart (or PatStew for short) really loves doing death scenes, or someone at Marvel really hates his guts. Whether it's being disintegrated by Jean Grey, killed by sentinels, or stabbed by a Wolverine clone, plus all the times he's died in the comics, Xavier is quickly becoming the Kenny of the Marvel multiverse. And the worst part is that this is far from an emotionally devastating death like in "Logan," but instead a senseless death meant to shock audiences after making them cheer for recognizing someone from another movie.

If Wanda had killed a bunch of C-list heroes, or side characters from things we recognized, then that'd be one thing. If they had Wanda kill the Avengers (or variant versions of them), that'd at least have had some emotional weight to them as we realize how much more powerful she is than we realized. But to instead have her kill a bunch of characters who have always been in their own little, separate universes, five minutes after you introduce them here? It ends up being a cheaper gimmick than anything in "The Last Stand," and that is saying a lot.

Because Charles Francis Xavier is not a character you bring in for a quick cameo or a cheap joke. He is no Black Bolt, not someone you can turn into a joke. Xavier is a character with decades of history, both in the comics and in the movies. He is a leader, a mentor, someone who deserves more than just being betrayed and killed over and over again.

What now?

Indeed, what makes Sir PatStew's quick cameo frustrating is that it is everything fans feared would happen with "No Way Home," that it would hype up the appearance of other Spider-Men only to relegate them to blink-and-you'll-miss-them cameos. That we don't even know for sure if this is the same Xavier from the cartoon, or how it fits together, or why any of that even matters gives voice to the common criticisms of Marvel movies as little more than reference machines, meant to elicit applause for 5 seconds and nothing more.

But fine, we can try and look at the glass half full and take the "X-Men" theme song to signify that the 1997 cartoon is indeed canon. What does that mean? Well, the most obvious answer is that Marvel could decide not to bring over the live-action versions of the X-Men over to the MCU, but maybe just keep some of the actors and cast them as the 1997 versions of the characters. This would mean an actually useful Jubilee, and a hot Gambit that actually manages to make it to a live-action movie.

As for how to bring them to the MCU? Well, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" already teases a solution: the incursion. In the film, we learn that an incursion is when two universes start colliding, blending until only one, or none, survives. If an incursion is initiated in a future movie, but is stopped right before it can destroy both universes, then maybe the MCU could pull a "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and bring only certain characters as refugees from an alternate universe. Cue the rad theme song.