Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

by | May 6, 2022 | 0 comments

The universe-hopping sequel is entertaining if distracted in setting up other films

Superhero fatigue, predicted to have settled in long ago is far from upon us. Superhero films seem to be the only thing keeping theaters open at all, as original properties play more like indies than big hits. As such, the dominance of Marvel and Disney has become indisputable in the cinematic medium, at least financially. The first Marvel cinematic release of the year has arrived with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022).

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the sequel to Doctor Strange (2016) and picks up right after the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), which also dealt with clashing universes. In this film, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) the master of mystic arts finds himself protecting a girl named America Chaves (Xochitl Gomez) who has an uncontrollable power that has her jumping into parallel universes. With such power, undoubtedly comes a villain (which I won’t spoil) looking to harvest it. Thus, Strange and Chaves hop across universes looking for answers to stop their pursuers.

Sam Raimi returns to the superhero genre after initially supercharging it with his trilogy of Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies. Doctor Strange mixes both of the genres that made Raimi such a successful filmmaker: the action superhero one as well as the horror aspects from his Evil Dead trilogy. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is quite the unwieldy concept and title, and yet Raimi is able to corner it with his specific style to try and find an individual and wholesome thread that connects his characters’ journeys.

The first Doctor Strange surprised viewers specifically with the inventive and kaleidoscopic visual effects. While the sequel employs such intriguing effects again, it seems to be stepping back from such an attractive element, to play around more with the concept and overarching direction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general. This can rob Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness of feeling like a wholesome story, instead being littered with endless hints and cameos as to the potential direction of future films. These elements can prove to be exciting fan service, but at some point begin to bring imbalance to the central stand-alone arc. By taking time away from Strange and his personal journey, the barebones of the plot also begin to show themselves, demonstrating a rather by-the-numbers superhero film, with predictable outcomes. 

Sam Raimi is able to have fun with the film, as is producer Kevin Feige, utilizing the build-up of certain characters in previous projects, most notably Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) in Wandavision (2021). This allows the joyful and spring-stepped Marvel tone and delivery to remain, assuring a satisfying blockbuster feel. The pairing of Gomez and Cumberbatch is also a winning one, with both taking turns in the master-to-student dynamic in endearing ways. 

In the end, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is yet another consistently enjoyable entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Raimi brings about a signature style and horror take that breathes some sense of originality into an otherwise typical story structure. The multiverse concept has been hinted and explored at in a couple of Marvel properties up until now, but it has yet to be utilized in all its glory; they should perhaps take a leaf out of original bold films such as Everything, Everywhere All at Once (2022).

  • OVERALL MOVIE RATING 74% 74%

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