Rick & Morty has humorously poked fun at the Marvel Cinematic Universe again - this time targeting 2016's Doctor Strange. Created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, Rick & Morty follows the insane adventures of mad scientist Rick Sanchez and his worrisome grandson Morty. The animated series debuted on Adult Swim back in 2014, garnering a passionate fanbase and widespread acclaim, and has since aired three intermittent seasons.
In that time, Rick & Morty has become synonymous with both scathing and loving references and homages to various movies and works of pop culture. In the newly released Rick & Morty season 4 trailer, that shows no signs of stopping. Although only offering a brief glimpse at new footage, there is mention of Morty wanting a dragon - which will inevitably lead to Game of Thrones nods - and direct mention of Akira. More prominently, however, is both an homage and a name-drop to the titular Marvel wizard played on-screen by Benedict Cumberbatch.
The moment comes as Rick and Morty make their way through some kind of intergalactic event or concert - as denoted by the myriad of different alien species waiting patiently in chairs. The duo is clearly gatecrashing, however, as a security guard can be seen making a move to stop them. With not so much as a glance back, Rick brilliantly counters by slipping out of his lab coat and commanding it to "rip off Doctor Strange". Emulating the Sorcerer Supreme's sentient Cloak of Levitation, Rick's trademark coat immediately goes on the attack and begins to smother the guard. The trailer promptly cuts away there, leaving the extent of the coat's attack to the imagination for now. Given Rick & Morty's slant towards more graphic content, it's probably safe to say that the coat ultimately inflicts more violent damage than Doctor Strange's cloak would ever be allowed - even against Thanos and his forces in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
This isn't the first time that the show has targeted Marvel for ridicule. Earlier in the year, the official comic book tie-in threw shade on Thanos' infamous snap. Equally, the season 3 episode, "Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender", overtly lampooned superhero team-up adventures through a prism of the Saw franchise. Not only did The Vindicators have an almost identical logo to The Avengers, but their leader, Renegade Starsoldier (Christian Slater), was definitely a play on Chris Pratt's Starlord. Elsewhere, in the episode "Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate", there was mention of someone who had been bitten by a radioactive octopus - a definitive play on Spider-Man if ever there was one. Rick has even built himself and Morty their own versions of Iron Man suits in the past.
Even in the new trailer, the bullet-proof protection Rick and Morty sport early on bears a striking resemblance to the special kind of space-suits seen in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The Doctor Strange nod is far more significant, however, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, following the lab coat incident, Rick can be heard saying, "You know what? You're right. I could get used to this magic stuff". It remains to be seen whether those moments occur in the same episode or are in any way connected. Whatever the case, this reference is particularly notable - and fittingly meta - because Harmon actually assisted on the Doctor Strange script. As such, though fans are disappointed by the truncated amount of new episodes forthcoming, they can at least be content in the fact that Rick & Morty hasn't lost its mocking and self-referential touch.