The MCU’s Dreamwalking Raises Questions About Lucid Dreaming
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness introduced the concept of dreamwalking to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in which a soul from one reality can inhabit the body of a variant in another reality for a set period of time. It’s a dangerous practice, as the film makes clear on multiple occasions, but it opens up a fascinating lexicon for the MCU to explore. Like many fictional constructs, the Dreamwalk creates more questions than it answers by spelling out the cogs and bolts of how it works. That’s part of the fun since, when developed correctly, these questions can make for great stories.
One of the most intriguing aspects of dreamwalking – and the multiverse in general – is its connection to traditional dreaming. According Multiverse of MadnessLogically, dreams are simply windows to our variants in other universes. This opens up a plethora of possibilities that the MCU is only just beginning to address. In particular, a thread on Reddit makes a simple connection between dreamwalking in the MCU and actual lucid dreaming.
Lucid dreaming is the phenomenon of being aware while dreaming. A lucid dreamer is aware that they are dreaming, and in some cases can exert limited control over the dream, altering its characters or content to suit them better. The phenomenon has been recorded since ancient times and serious studies have been conducted about it, although its exact causes still remain a mystery. Possible applications for controlling lucid dreaming include the ability to alleviate nightmares and as a conduit for increased creativity. Movies and other works of fiction use the concept from time to time. The Nightmare on Elm Street The series, for example, used lucid dreaming concepts to let its heroes battle its resident boogeyman Freddy Krueger, while 1984’s dream landscape posed similar ideas for its psychic sci-fi plot.
Dreamwalking is a bit different, at least as the MCU defines the term. It is tied to the Darkhold, Marvel’s book of ultimate evil that corrupts those who use it. In Multiverse of Madness, Wanda intends to use the power to inhabit the body of a variant, which happily raises her two sons, while Doctor Strange occupies the decaying corpse of one of her variants to stop Wanda at the climax of the film. The effects can be extremely dangerous and unpredictable, including incursions – the collision of one reality into another, which destroys one or both – and the development of the third eye on Strange’s forehead at the end of the film.
But this is only the beginning. Earlier in Multiverse of Madness, America Chavez clarifies the meaning of mundane dreams in the MCU. Wong asks about a recurring nightmare where he is naked and chased by a clown. America confirms that somewhere in the multiverse this is really happening, which explains Strange’s early “dreams” about his other self dying while trying to help him.
This opens up a Pandora’s box of possibilities when it comes to lucid dreaming. A figure like Strange being able to lucid dream on command would be able to not only enter another universe but alter it to his liking. It also means they may be able to do this without using the Darkhold or any other corrupting magic. It could wreak havoc on the multiverse, as a well-meaning lucid dreamer could send the reality they’re visiting catapult into another. It is even possible that the post-generic sequence in Multiverse of Madness refers to it or something similar, created by Strange’s dream rather than his dreamwalk.
In any case, the concept seems to have opened up a host of questions in the best of ways. Very little is known about the dream walk in the MCU, which gives Marvel writers plenty of room to grow the concept organically if they haven’t already. Either way, the very real phenomenon of lucid dreaming suggests that the threat of dreamwalking may not have been destroyed with the Darkhold.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is currently playing in theaters.