With the web being flooded with adoration for Wandavision and strong speculation about past Spider-Man stars Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield reprising their roles as the infamous webslinger alongside Tom Holland in Spiderman: No Way Home, the MCU seems set to embrace the magic, wonder and many possibilities of the multiverse.
This tantalising concept is not so new to theoretical astrophysics, but is being more widely embraced by cinema superhero franchises, what with Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck set to re-don their capes to play Batman in DC’s upcoming The Flash movie and Brandon Routh having already reprised his role as Superman in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
But could Marvel be about to cast its multiverse net even wider by incorporating another film series into its all-encompassing realm?
Online rumours were recently ignited about Ash vs Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell travelling to the UK to appear in his old pal Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, presently filming in London, after Campbell posted photos on his social media accounts announcing his trip to the capital, last weekend. It doesn’t take much to work out what Bruce is here for given holidays being off the cards at the moment.
If Bruce is here for a Doctor Strange cameo this is not really surprising (albeit welcome) news (despite Campbell recently announcing his retirement) considering he has appeared in most of Sam Raimi’s movies, whether in lead roles, bit parts or cameos. But could Campbell’s appearance in the new Dr Strange movie be something much more interesting?
Despite online speculation suggesting he could be playing perennial Marvel villain Mephisto, source material also suggests there’s a chance he could, once again, be connecting that rusty old chainsaw to his fistless wrist to reprise his role as Evil Dead honcho Ash Williams for the latest Marvel venture.
As preposterous as that might seem, given the evidence, it doesn’t seem entirely off the cards. Director Sam Raimi is partial to hurling his heroes (particularly Ash) face first into time tunnels to the past, future or parallel universes, as he did a few times with Ash in The Evil Dead movies. Even his last film, Oz: The Great and Powerful, saw James Franco plummet through a vortex to Oz. But while one could argue about whether or not the angry trees pelted with apples by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz are the same which attacked Ellen Sandweiss in The Evil Dead, there is much more evidence to connect Bruce Campbell’s Ash to the MCU.
Mainly, the 2007 comic-book series Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness, which saw Ash travel through a vortex to warn the Avengers about an upcoming Deadite invasion. The Avengers ignore Ash and brandish him a wag, then, as a result, end up being bitten and turned into the undead. More interestingly in the comic, after altercations with Daredevil and Punisher, Ash teams up with Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch then travels to the castle of Doctor Doom in search of the Necronomicon Book of the Dead (from The Evil Dead series) in the hope of ending the zombie apocalypse.
Components of the latter connect and sync perfectly with Marvel’s upcoming slate with Scarlet Witch/Wandavision, Dr Strange and Fantastic Four all on the radar.
The Necronomicon itself also bears similarity to Doctor Strange’s missing Darkhold book from the Sanctum Sanctorum (which is rumoured to be in Wanda’s basement). The arrival of Fantastic Four character Agatha Harkness in Wandavision establishes another connection, making all of the aforementioned more plausible, not to mention Raimi’s link to Spiderman after helming the Maguire trilogy. But while it’s easy to connect the dots within the Marvel universe, it’s more difficult to do so from a legal perspective, with those from outside of it.
The potential legal ramifications required to connect the Evil Dead series to the MCU could be a minefield (although I’m sure if Marvel wanted it to happen, it could). There is also the fact that Campbell publicly stated after the end of Ash vs Evil Dead season 3 that he was retiring the character (just like he recently said he was retiring himself). Then there’s the aforementioned Mephisto possibility as well as the general ludicrousness of a video nasty (The Evil Dead) connecting in any way to Disney. I can’t see Bambi darting through the forest from the roar of Raimi’s invisible Deadite lord and Dumbo’s zombie mum. Okay, maybe I can. If we’re already connecting The Wizard of Oz with The Evil Dead, why not classic Disney?
And what kind of Ash could Campbell be playing if he is to return; the modern Ash from the recent Ash vs Evil Dead series or a younger, digitally de-aged version intercepted from an earlier Evil Dead vortex? Despite all the evidence, Bruce Campbell returning as Ash in any universe, let alone the MCU, seems highly unlikely, even though the history and connections are there, but it doesn’t stop fans of both franchises salivating over the prospect, even if it is just a flight of fancy theory.
The cinematic universes are merging in a manner similar to how they have been doing in comic books for many years, This suggests an exciting time ahead for both the superhero genre and film in general. With that in mind, maybe there will be a day when those blasted legal bindings can be severed, allowing for what was once the stuff of fan fiction and playground antics to be finally granted life on the big screen.