It has recently been revealed that Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness will feature a powerful villain from Marvel’s comic book universe.
The film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is scheduled for theatrical release in May of 2022, and a line of Marvel Legends figures has been released alongside it. The toys have revealed that a number of comic book characters will likely appear in the movie, and the most surprising is the classic villain D’spayre.
While the villain has technically appeared in the MCU before (in the Freeform TV series Cloak and Dagger) the action figure suggests that he will appear his classic costume for the first time on screen. Created by Chris Claremont in 1978, D’Spayre is typically depicted as a pawn of the Dweller-in-Darkness, crafted from the terror of the inhabitants of a drowning Atlantis. The Dweller requires fear to survive, but he cannot be directly on the Earth, so D’spayre assists him by heightening fear and other negative emotions in mortal souls. Like his creator, he feeds off of fear, and is endowed with super-strength and levitation to assist him in his endeavors. Although originally written as less powerful than his creator, his impact on the Marvel Universe is significant, having appeared as an antagonist in not just Doctor Strange, but a plethora of other Marvel titles.
In Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme issues #31-33 (by Roy Thomas and Jean-Marc Lofficier), D’spayre and the Dweller address an assembly of the Fear Lords, various gods and entities in the Marvel cosmos that thrive off on the emotion, painstakingly introducing each one before announcing their plan to instill “The Great Fear” upon humanity. It’s exactly what it sounds like, an excess of fear in all human souls, but the effect is so crushing that humans no longer even fear, but rather succumb to despair. Despair fuels D’spayre, and his powers are increased so much that he transcends the abilities of not only his creator, but the entire council of Fear Lords. Fortunately, Doctor Strange was still powerful enough to defeat the villain in issue #40.
The comics also suggest that D’spayre is responsible for turning Tyrone Johnson and Tandy Bowen into Cloak and Dagger, although this is a retcon from their initial origin story. Initially believed to have gained their powers by a form of synthetic heroin, it’s later revealed in Cloak and Dagger #19 (by Terry Kavanagh, Chris Ivy and Don Hudson) that the two are imbued with fragments of D’spayre’s soul. Cloak received his Dark Form, allowing him to traverse great distances by walking through the Darkforce Dimension, and Dagger received his Light Form, allowing her to produce magical light daggers that she uses as throwing weapons.
D’spayre was featured as the main antagonist in the second season of the Cloak and Dagger TV series, played by Brooklyn McLinn, but he bears hardly any resemblance to his comic book counterpart. His connection to the Dweller-in-Darkness is completely omitted, as is his connection to Tyrone and Tandy’s origin story. Instead, he’s portrayed as Andre Deschaine, a disgraced Jazz trumpeter who gains the ability to feed off despair after jumping from a bridge to the residue of an exploded Roxxon chemical plant. Imprinting human despair onto vinyl records, he terrorizes the citizens of New Orleans, and he unlocks his full powerset through the use of Haitian Voodoo. He was killed at the conclusion of the second season, but with multiverse magic involved, it’s very possible that he will be resurrected.
It’s unclear whether McLinn will reprise his role as D’spayre for Doctor Strange. However, given the recent return of Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock and Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin in recent MCU titles, it would make sense if the studio wants to revitalize more characters from cancelled Marvel television shows. Little is known about the plot of the long-anticipated Doctor Strange sequel, but replacing all the Fear Lords with D’spayre to adapt the “Great Fear” arc of the comics would be a great way to acknowledge some forgotten MCU titles while expanding the mystical side of the cinematic universe.
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