Doctor Strange
(L-R): Rachel McAdams as Dr. Christine Palmer, Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange, and Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez in Marvel Studios' DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: Spoiler-Filled Review

The multiverse truly is full of madness. And lots of it. But does the madness emerge from its chaos to create a cohesive story or is it just slightly too mad for its own good?

'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' in now in theaters worldwide.
‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ is now in theaters worldwide.

WARNING: Spoilers for ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ lie ahead!

After 27 films, we’ve reached a point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which the multiverse is fully open, variants definitely exist (not sure what a variant is? Check out this article for a full breakdown!), and magic is a main player in the world of superheroes. The 28th installment allows us to venture into all of those aspects while simultaneously expanding the storyline on an MCU constant in Doctor Strange. The sorcerer has been quite busy since his solo movie in 2016. Throughout films like Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange has been a crucial hero in saving the universe, and this project is no different. We see the trickster god himself gets to meet alternate versions of himself from different timelines in the Disney+ Loki series. In addition, with Peter Parker (Tom Holland) getting to do the same in Spider-Man No Way Home, it was high time for our Strange to traverse the multiverse and join the club.

Sam Raimi: The King of Comic Book Movie Horror?

Sam Raimi (right) alongside comic book godfather Stan Lee (left).
Sam Raimi (right) alongside comic book godfather Stan Lee (left).

With a filmography housing classic horror flicks like The Army of the Dead and The Evil Dead alongside Tobey Maguire’s forever iconic Spider-Man films, Sam Raimi doesn’t let off the gas in his new outing. Raimi is back in the comic genre and taking matters into his own hands. Raimi’s style is front and center. His stamp is clear on this gripping, grisly, and ghoulish multiversal adventure. From the very first moments, it’s easy to see that Kevin Feige and his team let Raimi run with his ideas and see them through to fruition. Strange’s sole mission in this movie is to protect a young girl, America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), who has the ability to travel between universes.

When she first shows up in Strange’s home universe and is trying to escape the many clutches of Gargantos, it’s easy to see that ‘Sam Raimi twist’ on nearly everything. The horror-centric stylized design of the monster. The life-ending collateral damage it causes. Namely, and most shockingly, when Gargantos’ eye is ripped straight from its socket.

The Souls of the Damned join forces with Zombie Strange in a pure Sam Raimi moment.
The Souls of the Damned join forces with Zombie Strange in a pure Sam Raimi moment.

Throughout the entirety of the movie, Raimi gives us glimpses into his mind with spectacular POV shots and gruesome deaths that caught me, and my entire theater, off guard. You have to admire the audacity of both Marvel and Sam Raimi to fully commit to such a different tone and direction from the MCU as a whole. A direction that I enjoyed more than others might, but one that is no doubt a unique side to the heroic world. The visuals are among the most jaw-dropping for Marvel yet and should be seen on as big a screen if you can manage (here’s looking at you, IMAX!). Taking advantage of the many multiverses allowed for some fun, albeit odd and far too short-lived, universes to appear. The CGI is overall pretty impressive, with a few parts feeling hastily put together, but without a big enough impact to take you out of the main story.

Wanda’s World…

The Scarlet Witch uses the power of the Darkhold to Dreamwalk in alternate realities.
The Scarlet Witch uses the power of the Darkhold to Dreamwalk in alternate realities.

Speaking of the main story, this was Wanda’s movie. Sure, it’s titled Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness but a fitting title could have also been Wanda Maximoff in her Path to Power. Taking place after the events in WandaVision, Wanda finds herself seeking the power of America Chavez to be able to travel to universes in which she could reunite with the children she willed into existence in Westview. This is where the movie shines. When we are able to continue to feel that pain Wanda feels and sympathize with her journey for love. Even though it is leading her to be the monster she never intended to be. Maybe I’m just a sucker for the WandaVision era we were so fortunately blessed with, or maybe it’s a nice change-up from the CGI-laced battles in nearly every other scene. Whatever it is, this is the strong suit of the film, and Wanda, along with her power and energy, takes over on all fronts.

THEY Were Really In This Movie!

 Doctor Strange stands in front of the cameo-riddled Illuminati.
Doctor Strange stands in front of the cameo-riddled Illuminati.

This movie lives in large part in a universe named Earth-838. A universe in which we got all of those wonderfully fun and fulfilling cameos in the form of the Illuminati. Starting with Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) actually being Captain Marvel and evolving ultimately into the greatest fan-casting to hit the big screen in John Krasinski as the MCU’s debut of Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards. Other cameos include the version of Peggy Carter that takes Captain America’s mantle in Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell). We also see Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier, the leader of the X-Men. Black Bolt (Anson Mount), in his comic book accurate suit with abilities that can turn a person to dust with just a whisper and the already known Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Kudos to Agents of Fandom Editor-In-Chief TJ Zwarych, who reported back in December that the film would introduce Black Bolt.

Nearly all of these long-awaited heroes are brutally murdered at the hand of a Wanda that has fully given into the power of the Darkhold. Who had Captain Carter getting sliced in half by her own shield on their bingo cards? This drawn-out scene and battle accomplish two very important things for the MCU: 1) It directly and very obviously subverts what we’ve seen in prior MCU projects when it comes to violence and the portrayal of death on screen. 2) Gives us an idea of just how hard Doctor Strange’s task is to stop Wanda considering she just took on 6 of the most powerful heroes in the universe. I hope this is not the last strong tonal shift in the MCU.

Post-Credit & The Future of The Multiverse

Doctor Strange casts his magic powers, but is it enough to keep the multiverse closed?
Doctor Strange casts his magic powers, but is it enough to keep the multiverse closed?

By the time we get to the end of the sometimes confusing but never dull movie, we are met with nearly more questions than we had going in, which seems to be the MO of MCU projects as of late. Is Wanda dead? Is Strange beginning to succumb to the powers of the Darkhold? Where will we see America Chavez next with her game-changing powers? And those questions don’t even cover the introduction of Clea (Charlize Theron) and her opening of another multiverse. In what felt extremely similar to introducing Harry Styles to the MCU in Eternals, we are now already off on another adventure with a brand new character. The MCU doesn’t slow down. Maybe, that’s by design.

Maybe if we slow down too much we’ll start to see through the cracks of the entire universe that’s been created. If we do, we may notice the many continuity questions along with possibilities of what could have been but wasn’t. Then again, this movie shines when it takes time to breathe. When Strange comes to grips with the fact that he can’t be with his true love Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) in any universe. Or, when Wanda finally knows that she is in fact the mother she always wanted to be, just in another timeline. Perhaps it’s time we let the MCU shine by enjoying each project as it comes. In this case, it’s a damn fun one.

Conclusion

Unique in every sense of the word, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness offers us something completely different within the confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and for that, you’ve got to give credit to the madness of it all.

If you’re looking for more MCU content, be sure to check out our Moon Knight Episode 6 review along with a ranking of all of the X-Men movies!

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