Image Credit NME
THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW, THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING, TURN BACK NOW!!! I’M NOT JOKING SERIOUSLY!!! I’M GOING TO TALKING ABOUT IMPORTANT PLOT POINTS AND SURPRISE CAMEOS!!!
ALSO IF YOU WANT TO BE COMPLETELY SURPRISED, ABSOLUTELY WANT TO KNOW NOTHING EXCEPT THE BASIC PLOT, DO NOT GOOGLE “DOCTOR STRANGE,” “DOCTOR STRANGE 2,” OR ANYTHING ELSE!!! THERE’S LITERALLY A SPOILER IN THE GOOGLE RESULTS!!!!
The film follows Doctor Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) as he hops from universe to universe protecting America Chavez, a universe jumping teenager played by Xochitl Gomez. They’re running away from Wanda Maximoff (played by the always amazing Elizabeth Olsen), who has reached her final form and has become The Scarlet Witch. She wants to use America’s powers to find a universe where her kids Billy and Tommy (from the “Wandavision” Disney+ show) are alive and live there.
Before I begin, I want to answer one thing on everyone’s minds: Yes, you do need to watch “Wandavision” before watching this film, since there are several references to it throughout. Other series that are pretty important are Marvel’s “What If?,” especially the Doctor Strange-centric episode (episode 4 if you don’t want to binge the whole series, but you totally should because it’s a great series and talks a lot about the multiverse). The “Loki” tv series and the newest “Spider-Man” films aren’t that critical to understand “Multiverse of Madness,” but if you want to know more about how multiverses work in the MCU, better consume them just to be safe.
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” does require a second viewing, one to get all the cameos and humor, and second to actually get the story and the worldbuilding (or in this case, multiverse viewing). There’s a lot of information in here that might not make sense to the casual Marvel fan, or one who isn’t versed on Marvel comics and lore. For example, Strange and Chavez head to an alternate version of Earth called Earth-383, which had an Avengers-like group called the Illuminati. This features Hayley Atwell reprising her role in both the MCU and Marvel’s What If? as Captain Carter, Lashana Lynch (from 2019’s “Captain Marvel”) as Captain Marvel, Anson Mount as Black Bolt (remember that short-lived “Inhumans” series from forever ago? Yeah, that actor reprised his role here), Sir Patrick Stewart reprising his role as Professor X, and…John Kraninski as Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic. Yes, Jim from the Office is Mr. Fantastic.
Apparently, this is a long-running Marvel fan dream of having the “Quiet Place” actor play the leader of the Fantastic Four, and his cameo in this film is a nod to that? To me, that part of the film where all these characters had their introductions felt more like fanservice and less like an important plot in the film, if only showing the audience how many universes there are and what different characters could look like.
If you’re a fan of director Sam Raimi’s work or even vaguely familiar with it, you’ll have a lot of fun catching the references to “Evil Dead” and his iconic directing and cinematography style, to the handheld camera movements to the general sense of campy dread and fear. Because even this though this film is categorized as “horror,” upon second viewing…nah, it’s still pretty freaky. So, if you’re not a fan of horror, jump scares, body horror, this might not be the Marvel film for you. Or, just go with a bunch of friend and hug them tight when you’re scared, like I did!
To me, this didn’t feel like a Doctor Strange movie—it was Wanda’s movie, and we were all just living in it. Strange kind of felt like a side character in his own film, which can happen when you have such a dynamic character like Wanda. Olsen, who always shines in the role, does a fantastic job for her heartbreaking portrayal.
One of the aspects I really enjoyed in this film was how different this felt from other Marvel movies. There really hasn’t been a “horror” Marvel film as of late, and it’s interesting to see the different ways these stories can be told. As always, I am surprised by the humor in Marvel films, and this one was no exception. I also loved the editing and score of this film, which is something I don’t really notice as much in movies. It really brought out the freakiness and horror and kept the
Something I wanted from this film is MORE. More America Chavez, more exploring different universes (we really only got to explore three in depth), more everything. At two hours and six minutes, it still didn’t feel like enough time. Another thing that didn’t register with me is that the ending felt reminiscent of “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse:” the villain wants their family back, and they’re beating up the person who can do it, but before they know it they’re woth their family and the family is scared.
Overall, a fairly solid film that’s helping set up the next stage of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, there were a lot of plot holes, we could have gotten a bit more of this and that, but it satisfied the Marvel craving until the next project which is “Thor: Love and Thunder.” And I know we’re all excited for that.