Movies
Published July 5, 2022

‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’: The Cost of Dreamwalking and Incursions

Learn all about the most damning spell from the Darkhold.

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In Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Stephen Strange, along with fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, learned about two magical tomes — the Darkhold, the Book of the Damned, which corrupts its reader, and the Book of Vishanti, the Darkhold’s antithesis, which allows any good and pure magic wielder with enough magic defenses to defeat evil.

After Doctor Strange and Sorcerer Supreme Wong save a teenaged America Chavez from Gargantos, they learn that dreams are windows into the lives of their Multiversal selves. Whenever they dreamt, they were getting a glimpse of an alternate universe where their alternate selves existed. Dreams don’t allow you to impact your alternate self in any way.

However, within the pages of the Darkhold is a powerful spell — Dreamwalking — which does violate your alternate self’s will.

Marvel.com spoke to the creative team behind Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to learn more about the evilest spell within the pages of the Book of the Damned. 

WHAT IS DREAMWALKING?

Film co-producer Richie Palmer told Marvel.com that dreamwalking is “basically possessing the body of an alternate version of yourself out in the Multiverse.”

In the film, Mordo of Earth-838 explains to Strange and America that dreamwalking is the ultimate offense a person can do. 

“It’s an evil, disgusting act,” emphasized Palmer. “It’s taking over the body of someone else. You can’t go and possess another person’s body, even if it’s another version of yourself. As Mordo said, it’s corrosive to the soul. That is not the kind of thing that magic should be used for.”

Film scribe Michael Waldron likened it to a crime we all could understand, “It’s literally invading a person’s consciousness. It’s body and soul theft. It’s carjacking your Multiversal self’s body, and using it against its will.”

In addition to that, not just anyone who wields the Darkhold can cast the dreamwalking spell. “It’s a spell that maybe only Wanda and Strange are the only sorcerers in existence strong enough to even do it,” stressed Waldron. “It’s nearly impossible. And as Mordo said, it’s impossible to hold for a very long time. There’s a reason that Wanda doesn’t just stay living in that body. You see it on her; it takes such intense concentration even for The Scarlet Witch to maintain that dreamwalk. It’s a mentally, physically exhausting spell. It’s a dirty one; it’s in the back pages of the Darkhold.”

WHAT IS AN INCURSION?

“As our friend Reed Richards tells us, an incursion occurs when a being from one universe travels to another and causes a big enough footprint,” explained Palmer. “You can’t go to another universe and start stomping around and making big waves. If you do, it’s going to mess up the whole balance of the Multiverse, and it could destroy one or both of the universes entirely. The magical connection between those two universes should not be messed with.”

Standing before the Illuminati on Earth-838, Doctor Strange learns that the biggest threat to the Multiverse is himself. The Stephen Strange of Earth-838 did not die saving the universe from Thanos; in fact, he was executed by his very friends in front of him for turning to eldritch magic, which resulted in an incursion that destroyed an entire universe. In the eyes of the Illuminati, The Scarlet Witch isn’t a threat — Stephen Strange, in every universe, is. 

Cementing this notion, our prime Doctor Strange and Christine Palmer of Earth-838 land on another universe that is currently undergoing an Incursion because Sinister Strange has been utilizing the Darkhold, much like Wanda Maximoff, to find a universe where he is happy.

WHAT IS THE TRUE COST OF DREAMWALKING

Sinister Strange cautions Doctor Strange, “The Darkhold exacts a heavy toll.”

“If you’re going to possess your own body in another universe, if you were to go there and observe and just watch for a second, maybe it wouldn’t do anything,” noted Palmer. “But if you’re going to go and start messing with natural events of that universe, the natural timeline and flow of another universe, it could really set off a chain of events in motion that could destroy the entire universe.”

After The Scarlet Witch destroyed the Book of Vishanti in the Gap Junction and witnessing the effects of the Darkhold on Sinister Strange, our prime Doctor Strange uses the Darkhold to dreamwalk and take over the dead body of Defender Strange. Possessing the body of Defender Strange, Strange battles The Scarlet Witch at Mount Wundagore, trying to stop her from stealing America’s powers and killing the young hero in the process. One can see how the Darkhold has corroded the corpse of Defender Strange even further.

On the macro, we destroy a universe or two; and on the micro level, dreamwalking corrodes our heroes’ souls. 

Waldron told Marvel.com on how dreamwalking affects Wanda and Stephen differently. “The way the Darkhold corrupts you manifests in different ways,” reflected Waldron. “For Strange, it’s that third eye. For Wanda, it’s the burnt fingers. It’s just different things.”

While Doctor Strange believes possessing the corpse of an already dead alternate self presents a loophole to the cost of the dreamwalking, he unfortunately gains a third eye much like Sinister Strange. 

What this means remains to be seen, but as Waldron previously teased, “Strange went to the Multiverse and tampered with it as much as you probably possibly could. I don’t think it’s any surprise per the rules that Reed [Richards] laid out that he caused an Incursion. So now there’s an oncoming collision of universes. But what does that mean for the MCU? We’ll find out. But we’ve got a semi-corrupted Doctor Strange and Clea on the case! So it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now streaming on Disney+!

Witness the mind-bending alternate realities of the Multiverse when Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness debuts on all major Digital platforms June 22 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on July 26. 

Make sure to follow @DrStrange on Twitter and @DoctorStrangeOfficial on Instagram, and like "Doctor Strange" on Facebook for all the latest news and updates.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more details and sign up for Disney+ and start streaming now! And be sure to follow Disney+ on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for more.

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