*warning: minor spoilers for the movie can be found below, highly recommend watching the movie before reading this review
After the hype-fest that was Avengers Infinity War and Avengers Endgame, I admit to being slightly burnt out on Marvel movies for some time afterward (the pandemic didn’t help matters). Regardless of the reasons, the only Marvel movie I’d seen recently was Black Widow and I almost passed on seeing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, as I’ve still yet to see the first Doctor Strange movie.
And then the trailer came out.
To put it bluntly: I was hooked from the start. I’m quite familiar with the work of director Sam Raimi and the thought of seeing him tackle a Marvel film sent chills down my spine (in the best way possible). And the tease of seeing so many iconic characters finally appearing in the MCU, well….I couldn’t pass that up either. Being a longtime fan of the X-Men movies, I simply had to see Patrick Stewart reprise his role as Charles Xavier (I’ll speak more on the cameos later on).
Finally, the day came, and I got to see Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (while dodging almost all spoilers). And….to be honest, I’m still processing exactly what I saw. Because you better believe there’s a LOT happening in this movie.
Let me start at the beginning and see if I can make sense of what happens. The crux of the story revolves around young America Chavez, a girl who literally tumbles into Doctor Strange’s world with a unique power: she can travel the multiverse. This power makes her very desirable to many people, well, to one in particular.
I debated long and hard about whether or not I would directly mention this plot detail in my review, but I have so many thoughts on it, I’ve decided it’s worth it. So here is one final SPOILER WARNING before I continue:
Still here? Okay, you were warned….
The revelation that the Scarlet Witch is the big villain of the story hit me like a punch in the gut. I know Wanda has been through a LOT of trauma over the course of the MCU, but it still struck me as a surprise that she would go to this extreme in order to be reunited with the children she created in the first place. It just goes to show that love, real or imagined, can drive a person to do terrible things all in the name of keeping that love. There’s a frightening parallel between Wanda’s actions in this film and the evil Doctor Strange in the What If? episode “What if Doctor Strange lost his heart instead of his hands?” Like that Doctor Strange, Wanda is so focused on her goal, i.e. being reunited with her children no matter the cost, that she becomes almost completely blind to what her quest is costing her until the emotional climax of the film. And the moment it DOES hit her, it had me almost in tears, the depth of pain Wanda was feeling.
Here’s the thing, while Wanda is set up as the villain, she’s clearly a tragic villain, one forced into this position because of what’s happened to her. Everything has built up to this outcome and Wanda simply couldn’t take it anymore. In hindsight, it’s almost not a surprise that this happened, because if you lost everything in one universe and suddenly discovered someone had the power to take you to another world where you had NOT lost everything…wouldn’t you be tempted to try and use it?
The one part I disagree with in Scarlet Witch’s story is the ending. I have waited for so many movies for the Scarlet Witch to be fully introduced, and I hate the idea that she was killed off just as we got her. Now, that being said, I don’t THINK that Wanda is actually dead. We’re meant to think she is, obviously, but there was no body seen, so you know there’s every chance she was just sucked into an alternate dimension. I refuse to believe that we lose the Scarlet Witch just as she fully develops.
Then there’s America Chavez. I really like this character, especially the way she interacts with Doctor Strange throughout the story. Based on her interactions with an alternate version of the sorcerer, it takes quite a while for America to develop a connection with “our” Doctor Strange, but once it does develop, it’s very touching. I’m hoping that we see these two pair up in future films, there’s definitely potential for this relationship to be expanded upon.
Now, on to the juicy parts, most notably THAT scene with the Illuminati. This is by far one of the best scenes I’ve seen since Avengers Endgame. The sheer number of cameos and information dropped in that scene had me enthralled, not least because we finally, FINALLY, had an onscreen appearance from a member of the Fantastic Four, something I have been longing to see ever since Marvel re-acquired the rights to that group of superheroes. I don’t know what connection, if any, this appearance will have with the upcoming Fantastic Four movie, but for now this cameo was more than enough. The only thing that could’ve made this better would’ve been an appearance from some of the X-men (besides Xavier) but I’m confident we’ll be getting that eventually. It was also thrilling to see Captain Carter putting in an appearance, she’s one of my favorite parts of the What If? series and this appearance only strengthens my desire to see a full-fledged Captain Carter movie.
If I have one complaint about this movie, it’s that we didn’t visit more dimensions in the multiverse. Watching the trailers, it seemed like we’d be visiting a lot more worlds than we ultimately did. That doesn’t mean that what we got wasn’t enjoyable, I just was left feeling like we could’ve gotten more.
Oh, and before I forget, I really want to talk for a minute about the horror element in this film. If anyone could pull this off it’s Sam Raimi and he did so beautifully. I honestly wasn’t sure if horror could work in the MCU but this movie proved it is indeed possible to combine horror and the MCU (which means we definitely need a Marvel Zombies movie now). I know horror isn’t for everyone, but if you give it a chance, you’ll see that this is really the only way this kind of story could go.
I’m sure as time goes on that I’ll find details about this movie that I didn’t like, but after thinking it over and over, I have to say that I found Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to be a very enjoyable movie. I like the direction the MCU is headed in and I’m curious to see where the story goes next.
And that’s all I’ve really got to say about the movie. There’s more I could talk about, but I don’t want to spoil the entire movie for you.
Let me know what you thought about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in the comments below and have a great day!
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