By Andrew Warren
Sam Raimi’s Dr. Strange and the Multiverse Of Madness is the latest edition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Dr. Strange returns to protect America Gomez, a young girl who has the ability to travel the multiverse, as she is hunted by evil beings bent on stealing her powers. Strange goes to Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, to ask for her help. Knowing how sensitive MCU fans are to spoilers, that is all of the plot I am going to reveal.
At this stage in the MCU, every movie has two jobs. The first is to tell an emotionally satisfying and exciting story with resonant character arcs. The second job is to further the plot of the MCU. In the case of Captain America: Civil War or Spiderman: No Way Home, they did both. Unfortunately, the second installment of Dr. Strange only checks the second box.
It’s no secret to Marvel fans that Phase 4 of the MCU is about the multiverse. Spider-man: No Way Home and Loki have already set that up. This movie exists purely to explain the rules of the multiverse. There’s a lot of very important exposition in this movie. The same cannot be said for a great storyline.
The internal conflict of the movie revolves around Strange’s relationships. In the very beginning, his ex-girlfriend Christine tells him she could never live with him because he always had to be the one “holding the knife.” I don’t think this is a bad direction for the character, but it is handled awfully. There are scenes where Strange will be in the middle of saving someone’s life, and that person will complain that he’s being too controlling. Benedict Cumberbatch is wasted in this movie. If he’s not in a fight scene, he’s not doing anything entertaining. His arc is nowhere near as powerful as it was in the first film.
Wanda, on the other hand, is utilized very well. Her storyline is a straight continuation from Wandavision so make sure you’re familiar with that plot. Her emotional scenes land and her magic scenes are the highlight of the film. Elizabeth Olson does some of her best work in the MCU in this movie.
The supporting cast is negligible. Rachel Mcadams returns as Christine, the aforementioned love interest. I don’t know how Marvel made Rachel Mcadams irritating, but her constant criticisms of Strange, especially during stressful situations, got frustrating. Benedict Wong’s Wong is still very funny. He’s now the sorcerer supreme, but he doesn’t have huge moments. Xochitl Gomez plays America, and she’s ok. America is more of a plot device than a person. She spends most of the movie running from antagonists.
The most disappointing part of the whole film is the wasted potential of the multiverse. They had infinite realities at their disposal, and the writers made dismal choices. They only visit a few alternate universes, and the ones they do visit aren’t that interesting. There is no reason for Spider-man to have more fun with the multiverse than Dr. Strange.
Thankfully, Sam Raimi is this movie’s saving grace. In the past, Raimi directed the original Spider-man trilogy and the Evil Dead horror franchise. He really tries to put his own stamp on this movie. There are moments when the antagonist is going on a rampage and it feels straight out of a horror movie. This is hands down the most violent and gory Marvel has ever gotten. It’s also at those moments when the movie is at its most fun. It’s a shame they don’t make up most of the movie.
Marvel fans are going to see this movie no matter what, but I recommend they don’t. Wait for it to come on Disney plus in a month or two. Spend your money on the other multiverse movie that just came out, Everything Everywhere All At Once. It’s a wild, crazy, sci-fi, martial art, comedy, drama, genre mishmash of a masterpiece. You will feel every emotion known to man.
Dr. Strange 5/10
Everything Everywhere All At Once 9/10