What is dreamwalking? ‘Doctor Strange 2’ plot, explained

doctor strange 2 dreamwalking explained
Image via Marvel Studios

Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

The newest Marvel film has been released, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange. Multiverse of Madness brushes against the horror genre more than any other film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and introduces some new characters as well as some new magical abilities. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, Benedict Wong as Wong, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, and Xochitl Gomez as newcomer America Chavez.

Before continuing be warned that the rest of the article contains spoilers, as we discuss the plot of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

The Sam Raimi-directed film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness saw the introduction of America Chavez, whose arrival kicked off the events of the film. America Chavez has the power to open doorways between different universes in the multiverse and is being hunted by forces who are trying to steal her power. She arrived in the MCU after escaping the clutches of the creatures hunting her after they killed a version of Doctor Strange who was protecting her. 

doctor strange america chavez
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Doctor Strange and Wong, who after the snap is now the Sorcerer Supreme, sense that the multiverse will be in danger if her powers are taken, and being the heroes they are they decide to protect Chavez by taking her to Kamar Taj. Realizing that the creatures sent after America Chavez have magical runes on them, which are not used by the sorcerers, Doctor Strange and Wong decide that the best course of action is to go and talk to the only witch they know, Wanda Maximoff. Doctor Strange ventures to the house we see Wanda living in at the end of Wandavision to get advice on the runes, and to recruit her to fight against the forces trying to steal America’s powers. 

Unfortunately for Doctor Strange and for America Chavez, Wanda has truly become the Scarlet Witch and was the one who sent the creatures after America Chavez to steal her powers so she can be with her two children, Billy and Tommy. So, now corrupted by the evil magical book, the Darkhold, Wanda will stop at nothing to reunite with her children and is revealed as the film’s villain.

After a short and horrifying battle between Wanda and the forces of Kamar Taj, Doctor Strange and America Chavez flee to a different universe after Wanda nearly annihilates all the sorcerers. After escaping to the other universe the pair realize that Wanda has a way to find them. Using the Darkhold, Wanda can use a magical ability called dreamwalking to invade their universe and steal America Chavez’s abilities. But what is dreamwalking and how is it used in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness?

What is dreamwalking?

doctor strange 2 scarlet witch
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While not an ability used exclusively by Marvel, as dreamwalking is also used in other media as well, dreamwalking has been used in Marvel Comics by various characters including the Doctor Strange villain, Nightmare. The ability in the film allows the user to transport themselves to another universe by inhabiting their alternate self in that universe. In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Wanda uses the ability to take control of Wanda, who is the mother to Billy and Tommy in that universe, but controls her to find America Chavez and take her power. 

A couple of things interrupt Wanda’s connection with her alternate self. The first time is when the sorcerer Sara destroys the Darkhold, severing Wanda’s ability to dreamwalk. To re-establish the connection, Wanda forced Wong to take her to a mountain where the Darkhold was originally written, on the walls of a temple. Once there Wanda performs the ritual once again and is able to dreamwalk back to her alternate self’s body, where she eliminates the Illuminati. 

During the fight with the Illuminati, Professor Charles Xavier invades Wanda’s mind telepathically, and for a brief moment, it seemed like he might be able to free the Wanda of that universe, placing her back in control of her body. However, the Scarlet Witch was able to gain control of her mind and kill Xavier before he did any lasting damage. 

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Wanda was not the only character to dreamwalk in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. After being transported to an incursion, which is two universes that have collided, Doctor Strange and Christine Palmer visit that universe’s Doctor Strange. But that Doctor Strange had been corrupted by the Darkhold and had turned evil. 

After defeating the corrupted Doctor Strange, the main Doctor Strange opened the Darkhold to dreamwalk back into his universe. But the Doctor Strange of that universe was the one currently using the Darkhold so there was not a Strange there that he could take over. Except at the start of the film, the Doctor Strange-dubbed Defender Strange who was protecting America Chavez was killed by Wanda’s forces. Doctor Strange buried Defender Strange which allowed Doctor Strange to use him as a vessel, like a zombie, to dreamwalk to defeat Wanda and stop her from stealing America’s powers.

The connection between zombie Strange and Doctor Strange is severed when demon-like figures, the Souls of the Damned, attack Strange while he was connected. This is because it was forbidden to dreamwalk with the dead. Fortunately, with Christine Palmer’s help, Doctor Strange manages to shake off the Souls of the Damned and uses them to interrupt Scarlet Witch, allowing America Chavez to keep her powers. 

America Chavez ultimately learns how to use her powers, as she struggled to control them throughout the film. America uses her powers to show Wanda that taking the place of another Wanda would only make Billy and Tommy afraid of her and so the Scarlet Witch stops fighting. Instead, Wanda uses her powers to take down the ancient temple, destroying the Darkhold once and for all, while seemingly taking herself down with it, though Marvel fans should be used to fake deaths by now. 

Doctor Strange 2 Benedict Cumberbatch
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There were also repercussions for Doctor Strange’s use of the Darkhold and his dreamwalking, as the end of the film has Strange develop a third eye, much like the evil corrupted Doctor Strange from the Incursion. Although a post-credits scene seems to hint that alongside newcomer, Clea, played by Charlize Theron, Doctor Strange will be able to fix whatever damage he caused. However, it might take a few more movies and a third Doctor Strange movie to discover exactly what damage was caused by the good Doctor. 

Hopefully, because the Darkhold was destroyed, we won’t see any more dreamwalking in any future Marvel projects.