As much as the hype for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is through the roof following the release of its first trailer, one element of what we know about the movie has left fans scratching their heads. In the aforementioned trailer, we saw a glimpse of Benedict Cumberbatch’s sorcerer battling a tentacled monstrosity that merchandise has revealed is called Gargantos. The thing is, though, that it looks nothing like the creature known as Gargantos from the comics and is clearly an adaption of the interdimensional being known as Shuma-Gorath in the comics.
The seemingly pointless name change has been frustrating fans on social media, but we may now know the reason behind the switch-up. As pointed out by @UpToTASK on Twitter, Shuma-Gorath is actually a name that was first created by Conan the Barbarian author Robert E. Howard. So it’s likely that Marvel is hoping to avoid any sticky copyright problems with Howard’s estate and the holders of the film rights to his works by simply giving their own Shuma-Gorath a different moniker.
Further detective work from Redditor u/Pomojema_SWNN confirms that the term “Shuma-Gorath” first turns up as part of an evil magician’s curse in Howard’s story The Curse of the Golden Skull, which features the Conan-adjacent character Kull of Atlantis. Though Kull predates Conan, the rights to any stories he’s in are likewise not in the public domain, so this theorized reason for Shuma-Gorath’s name change still holds up.
We’ve already had a similar occurrence to this in the MCU. In the comics, Ant-Man travels to the Microverse, which is known as the Quantum Realm in the movies. That’s due to the term Microverse being tied into the Micronauts franchise, which is owned by Hasbro. Fans managed to get used to the Quantum Realm rebrand, though, so they’ll probably adjust to Shuma-Gorath being known as Gargantos, too, given some time.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters this May 6.