While the Multiverse seems somewhat inescapable in Marvel’s current Phase 4, it wasn’t always like this. There was a time when Marvel’s films were relegated to one timeline, one continuity, until everything was fractured beyond repair at the end of 2021’s Loki and through Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Michael Waldron, who spearheaded the creation of the God of Mischief’s hit series, understands the Marvel Multiverse better than most. With characters mixing and matching across several realities, keeping track of all the variables at play here isn’t easy, but Waldron has it down to a science.

“It became clear early on because one of the first things we had to do in the writer’s room was define the actual rules and nature of time travel in this show,“ explained Waldron to The Playlist regarding his first MCU adventure with Loki.

“And it became clear to us that according to kind of the rules of time travel, they’d been laid out in “Endgame” and according to the rules of time travel that made sense to me and that we wanted to run within the show, really, time travel was kind of the multiverse as … It’s like time travel. We were like, “We’re really making a multiverse show, more than we’re making a time travel show.” The TVA shifted to like, “O.K., these guys are actually guarding against a multiverse.”

Complex and Simple, At the Same Time

Michael Waldron

The time-travel rules first explained in Endgame weakened the ‘structured’ reality we were used to in the MCU – until Loki blew the hinges clean off. The stakes have been steadily rising as well — the first Iron Man film’s main villains were terrorists and a power-hungry businessman, while the Avengers teamed up against aliens, gods, and eventually, a combination of the two via Thanos.

With Multiverse of Madness, Waldron’s script aims to bend the rules even further after already breaking them – a skill he learned during his Emmy-winning work for Rick and Morty (which has even parodied the Avengers in one of its episodes). The aim is to create a script that stands well all by itself — independent of the several interconnected plot threads shared between films.

“The headaches I have are probably intertwined,” he shares, speaking of the writing challenges involved in a multiversal story. “ I mean, it’s all intertwined and it all stands alone. Like a great comic universe, I think that one thing certainly informs the other. 

You’re going to have a better time watching the next chapter of an MCU story if you’ve seen the stuff before it. But also, hopefully, even if you’ve never, if you’ve walked in off the street, you’ll still have a blast. It should be good enough that it stands on its own.”

As far as the story goes, Waldron was obviously tight with spoilers — but heavy with praise.

I’m really proud of it,” he says, regarding the upcoming Doctor Strange film, before explaining his mid-pandemic efforts alongside director Sam Raimi.

“[Dr. Strange] feels like one long pandemic lockdown home video for me. To get to work with Sam Raimi and that crew and that cast. The circumstances under which we made that movie, you can’t help, but get incredibly close. And so, yeah. I think we made something we’re all really proud of.”

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness releases globally in theaters on May 6th, 2022.

(Featured Image Credits: @michaelwaldron/Twitter, Marvel Studios)