Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness took Marvel fans deep into the wild alternate realities of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Along with exploring the next chapter of Doctor Strange’s solo franchise story, Multiverse of Madness also did the obligatory heavy lifting of setting up a larger storyline for the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse. Loki saw the walls erected to keep alternate realities separate come crumbling down, and Spider-Man: No Way Home showed what can happen one different universes begin bleeding into one another. Now Doctor Strange 2 has given an official name to what happens when realities collide.
So what are Incursions in the MCU?
MCU Incursions Explained
(Photo: Marvel Studios)
The word “incursion” means “an invasion or attack, especially a sudden or brief one.” In the context of the MCU (and as defined in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness), an incursion is when one reality crashes into another, collapsing and destroying one or both of those realities. While it wasn’t a major plot-point of Doctor Strange 2, incursions were definitely name-dropped with purpose, to set up where the MCU storyline is headed.
(Doctor Strange 2 SPOILERS Follow!)
Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) learns about incursions when he’s taken prisoner by the Marvel Illuminati group of Earth-838. The Illuminati and scientist Reed Richard (John Krasinski) tell Strange about how his Earth-838 counterpart got obsessed with the Darkhold and spiraled out of control, and nearly caused an incursion. The Illuminati ultimately killed Strange-838 to stop the threat.
In the climatic act of Doctor Strange 2, Strange and the Illuminati version of Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) are banished to a reality in which that version of Doctor Strange (“Evil Strange”) did in fact use the Darkhold to cause an incursion, and destroyed his entire reality.
Incursions Will Bring X-Men & F4 to the MCU
(Photo: 20th Century Fox / Disney / ComicBook.com)
The whole point of introducing incursions into the MCU at this point is simple: it’s the type of threat that sets up the next big MCU “event”: Secret Wars.
There have been two Marvel Secret Wars; the second one from 2015 happened because of a mass incursion, when every alternate reality of the Marvel Comics Universe collided. Dr. Doom managed to cobble together a jumbled puzzle of a world out of the remaining pieces of the realities, while Reed Richards managed ferry a small group of Marvel heroes on spaceships into Doom’s “Battleworld” reality. At the end of the storyline, a new mixed Marvel Universe was forged together from pieces of all the others.
Secret Wars has been teased as the next big MCU event for some time (including by the Russo Bros.), and with good reason. Having the Marvel Multiverse collapse and have to be rebooted under one new “Sacred Timeline” is about the only comic book lore that would explain how the X-Men and Fantastic Four universes show up in the MCU so late in the game. Like in the comics, it would also a method for Marvel Studios to pick and choose which characters, actors, and franchises they want to either import and/or reboot within the MCU.
So, make sure you keep that word – incursions – in your back pocket as the MCU saga marches forward.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now in theaters.