Either he’s making perfect sense, or he’s smacked himself so silly in Stephen Strange’s latest adventure that he’s lost all his marbles. But longtime Sam Raimi collaborator Bruce Campbell sure sounds like a guy who fully expects fans to believe there’s more to “Pizza Poppa,” his hapless pizza-vending character cameo in Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, than mere momentary comic relief.
Campbell showed up at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con with a sizzling-hot slice of intel about his self-proclaimed MCU future, and if he’s not joking — which no Campbell fan can completely discount — let’s just say he (and Marvel) have way more on their minds than pie (or, pizza balls). Looking like a Kingly Bubba Ho-tep in a video interview with Variety, Campbell teased that he’s inked a three-film deal to appear in upcoming Marvel movies, and that his fun Doctor Strange cameo doesn’t even begin to hint at where the story will take him next.
“[Y[ou don’t know that I’ve signed a three picture deal with Marvel. This is not a one-off thing,” he said. “And I’m really going to be in trouble just for even saying that. So don’t get hung up on ‘Pizza Poppa.’ He’s not just a pizza vendor. Not even close…I’m already gonna get calls. They might pull this interview…Marvel doesn’t care, they’re gonna shut you down if you let this slip out.”
Speaking with Collider, Campbell elaborated further on the whole “don’t get hung up” line about his role as “Pizza Poppa” — the guy whom Doctor Strange hexed to punch himself in the face in the movie, only to show up in an end credits scene (after weeks had passed) to reveal it took that long for the spell to wear off. Campbell’s character, he said, is actually a “special interloper” in Marvel’s still-expanding Multiverse, and that the next time you see him in the MCU, he probably won’t be asking whether you’re a pineapple-on-pie kinda diner.
“I can't talk about a lot of it. But if you think he's just the pizza guy, you are so gravely mistaken. Okay? It's a character that's a special interloper. He's an interloper between universes,” Campbell told Collider, recalling his character’s brief Doctor Strange 2 appearance after Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) run into him in the street.
“There was a reason why he delayed Doctor Strange for about 45 seconds, did he not? He delayed him. He did not go further down the street. You can put into it whatever you want. I know for a fact he saved Doctor Strange's life for a reason. So he's put there for a reason…It has nothing to do with his job. My role in the multiverse is way beyond being a pizza vendor. I mean, you're only going to realize this, like when I talk to you again in five years. Your mind will be blown at what they do with what was formerly known as the Pizza Poppa.”
Campbell fans likely assumed his funny turn in the film was just a sly way for director Sam Raimi to sneak his longtime Evil Dead teammate a one-time Marvel movie laugh. But if Campbell really is serious about joining the MCU beyond Doctor Strange 2, could his character hold some hidden key to the Metaverse — perhaps as an ally of Kang the Conqueror? Did he “save” Strange for nefarious reasons or noble ones? Does he know something about another villain besides Kang — maybe even Mephisto — who could be waiting in the wings for Phase 5?
Only Campbell and Marvel know whether his three-picture deal is the fresh-out-of-the-oven real thing or merely a deep dish ruse. But at least we won’t have to wait long for the movies themselves to provide some answers. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever closes out the MCU’s Phase 4 on Nov. 11 of this year, followed by a whopping four Phase 5 movies coming in 2023, beginning with next year’s Feb. 17 arrival of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Looking for more superhero action in the meantime? Peacock is streaming Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin right now.