Wong is nothing like Wong.
Well, to be specific, Earth-1218's Benedict Wong (our Earth's Benedict Wong) is nothing like the character that he plays, which is Earth-199999's Sorcerer Supreme Wong (the Wong in the Marvel Cinematic Universe). If you're a diehard fan, you'll know that all the different Earths in the Marvel multiverse have a designated number — the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is actually Earth-199999, the Earth that we non-powered individuals live in is Earth-1218, and the Marvel Comics stories take place in Earth-616.
So how is Benedict Wong different from the character that he plays in the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? For one, the real-life actor is much less terse and snarky than the Wong of the films, whom he describes as a "a no-nonsense midfield general, Roy Keane-esque librarian". Benedict Wong has been known to be a Manchester United fan, so it's no surprise that he'd describe his character as one of the most legendary midfielders that the Red Devils have ever had — and one of their toughest leaders, too.
Benedict Wong was cheery and welcoming in a Zoom interview, sharing his experiences on the film. His character, Wong, first appeared in Doctor Strange, which introduced audiences to the world of sorcery within the MCU. Now with five movies under his belt (and the aforementioned Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness coming soon), where can we expect his character to go next?
The last time we saw Wong onscreen was in Spider-Man: No Way Home, which established that he was the current Sorcerer Supreme.
"He's there to quell the ego-ic Doctor Strange, he's the wise one," said the actor. "He's now picked up the gauntlet and become the Sorcerer Supreme. There's a much greater level of responsibility involved for him now. This is a school of magic, and he is almost being torn by the mistakes that Strange has made by casting the spell that he told him not to cast [in Spider-Man: No Way Home]."
In that movie, Spider-Man came to Doctor Strange for help, as the world had learnt that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Wong had advised Doctor Strange not to cast a spell that would make the world forget about Spider-Man's secret identity, but Strange cast it anyway — thus drawing in villains from all over the multiverse into the MCU.
"He is now in real turmoil as to whether to turn this school into a fortress. And that's where we lie with this film."
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Earth-1218 Wong described the genesis of his character, all the way from the conceptualisation stage in a discussion with our reality's Kevin Feige, the architect of the MCU, who had stepped into Wong's trailer.
"My opening gambit was to say, 'Look, I'm not going to do this tea-serving thing.' And [he] was immediately like, 'No no no that's not what we're doing.' So we're all singing off the same sheet, you know," said Benedict Wong. "[Wong and Strange] are the odd couple, you know? They're very chalk and cheese, they're the odd couple, they both need each other."
In a movie where magic and sorcery abounds, does real-life Wong have any superstitions — or magical practices, if you will — that he abides by?
"Well there's no sacrificing of any goats or anything, so you don't have to worry about that. I don't really have any superstitions," said the actor. He did have his acting methodologies to fall back on, such as finding out about the scenes and vocal warm-ups — but no superstitious rituals that he held on to.
"It's been very physical, very demanding," said Wong of the shoot, even joking about the "madness of the multischedule" when it came down to production logistics.
The road ahead for Wong looks promising, as he described his character's future in the MCU.
"It's a real treat for me to see where this character goes and what they do with it. I look forward to where they're going to go with this character. There's a lot of scope, he's probably one of the very first Asian superhero characters in the MCU and obviously, we now have Shang-Chi as our leading Asian character. So yeah, have portal, will travel. So we could go anywhere."
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness sees Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Wong, Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and newcomer America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) teaming up as they venture into the multiverse to face a dire new threat.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opens 4 May in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.
You might also want to read about all the other times that Wong has appeared in the multiverse: