Warning: SPOILERS for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness!
Some beloved Marvel movie music is secretly hidden in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, as the soundtrack references three major Marvel properties. Although Doctor Strange 2 is technically a sequel to the original 2016 movie, it comes from almost an entirely new creative team. Director Sam Raimi took over for Scott Derrickson, Loki‘s Michael Waldron wrote the script, and Danny Elfman was in charge of the sequel’s music. The original Doctor Strange score set the tone for the mystical side of the MCU, but since Doctor Strange 2 dives into the multiverse, it gave Elfman several other opportunities to use recognizable Marvel tunes.
The multiverse aspect of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is actually rather tame compared to the wild internet rumors that circulated for months before its release. The film mostly focused on Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) as he traversed other realities while protecting America Chavez (Xochitl Goméz) from Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). While this eventually included Doctor Strange having a music battle with an evil version of himself – one where classical music like Beethoven’s 5th Symphony can be heard – the Doctor Strange 2 soundtrack includes other pieces of music recognizable from past Marvel properties.
There are three main pieces of Marvel music reused in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. At various points in the movie, the theme song from WandaVision and sections of the X-Men: The Animated Series theme and Alan Silvestri’s Captain America: The First Avenger theme can be heard. The now very identifiable WandaVision theme song written by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez is first heard as Doctor Strange 2 transitions its story to Scarlet Witch as she dreams of her boys. The other two pieces of Marvel music come during the sequence where Doctor Strange meets The Illuminati, as notes from the iconic X-Men animated series are heard when Professor X (Patrick Stewart) comes onto the screen, and the same is true of Silvestri’s Captain America theme when Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell) is shown.
The decision to use pieces of music familiar to several characters in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is another way for the movie to reference their pasts and MCU connections. The sequel builds on WandaVision‘s story in some significant ways. Since the show’s music became so well-known, it makes sense that Marvel and Danny Elfman would reference it as viewers get a glimpse of Westview through Wanda’s dreams. The decision to include the theme from X-Men: The Animated Series is potentially quite important, as it reinforces the idea that this Professor X is a variant from the animated show (which Marvel Studios is reviving) and not a variant from Fox’s X-Men movies, despite Stewart’s return. Additionally, the Captain America theme reinforces that Peggy Carter is this universe’s Captain America, not Steven Rogers.
Despite the use of these various pieces of Marvel music, Doctor Strange 2 had the opportunity to use more. Michael Giacchino’s Doctor Strange theme and the general sound was mostly abandoned for the sequel, as Elfman instead reinvents the main theme, much like his work on Avengers: Age of Ultron. There was also the chance to have Captain Marvel‘s theme play when Maria Rambeau’s Captain Marvel (Lashana Lynch) appeared, while the theme from Inhumans even could’ve been used a bit when Black Bolt (Anson Mount) appears. In any case, the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness soundtrack works in plenty of iconic pieces of Marvel music.