Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the perfect amalgamation of the horror and superhero genres. This film at time feels like an Evil Dead film and at other times feels like the coolest Doctor Strange movie ever. It’s every bit as geeky comic book fan service as it is jump scare horror.
Raimi doesn’t hold back either. Marvel Studios let Raimi off the leash because this film features some of the most brutal violence we have ever seen in an MCU film.
Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the sequel to Doctor Strange (2016) and the 28th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe(MCU). The film was directed by Sam Raimi, written by Michael Waldron, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange, alongside Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Rachel McAdams. In the film, Strange protects America Chavez (Gomez), a teenager capable of travelling the multiverse, from Wanda Maximoff (Olsen).
America Chavez and a version of Dr. Stephen Strange are chased by a demon in the space between universes while looking for the Book of Vishanti. Strange is killed and Chavez accidentally creates a portal that transports herself and Strange’s corpse to Earth-616, where that universe’s version of Strange rescues Chavez from an octopus demon with help from the Sorcerer Supreme, Wong. Chavez explains that the demons are hunting her because she has the power to travel through the multiverse.
Recognizing runes of witchcraft on the demons, Strange consults Wanda Maximofffor help, only to realize that she is responsible for the attacks. Since acquiring the Darkhold and becoming the Scarlet Witch, Maximoff believes that controlling the multiverse with Chavez’s power will allow her to reunite with Billy and Tommy, the children she created during her time in Westview. When Strange refuses to surrender Chavez, Maximoff attacks Kamar-Taj, killing many sorcerers. Chavez accidentally transports herself and Strange across the multiverse to Earth-838. Maximoff uses the Darkhold to “dream-walk”, taking control of her Earth-838 counterpart who lives a suburban life with her own Billy and Tommy. A surviving sorceress sacrifices herself to destroy the Darkhold and break the dream-walk. Maximoff then forces Wong to lead her to Mount Wundagore, the source of the Darkhold’s power.
While searching for help, Strange and Chavez are arrested by Earth-838’s Sorcerer Supreme, Karl Mordo, and brought before the Illuminati, a secret society consisting of Mordo, Captain Peggy Carter, King Blackagar Boltagon, Captain Maria Rambeau, Doctor Reed Richards, and Professor Charles Xavier. They explain that through reckless use of their universe’s Darkhold in an attempt to defeat Thanos, Earth-838’s Strange triggered and barely averted a universe-destroying “incursion”. They decided to kill him to prevent him from causing more harm, and Mordo believes that Earth-616’s Strange is similarly dangerous.
Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Benedict Cumberbatch appears more comfortable in the role of Strange this time around as opposed to his debut as the character back in 2016. The way Strange conjures his spells in this film is big and bombastic, everything you would expect to see from the comics. Benedict Wong also continues to shine in the role of Wong which has gone from a thankless man servant from the comics to the Sorcerer Supreme in the films (mostly due to the fact Strange was snapped out of existence by Thanos for five years).
Xochitl Gomez does okay as one of the newer Marvel characters to debut in both the comics and the film. She is pretty much there just to get put in danger and look scared most of the time. Her power to travel through the multiverse becomes highly coveted by Scarlet Witch who wants to use it to get to a universe where her kids from WandaVision are still alive.
All lot of viewers are throwing shade on Elizabeth Olsen for her sudden transformation from Avenger to full blown villain. However, Olsen really gets to show some range here and cements her status as the MCU’s most powerful character. All of chatter has been made about Wanda’s abrupt heel turn but if you remember how she enslaved an entire small town in Disney+ series, WandaVision the seeds were planted for her descent into madness.
As for the “cameos” from multiple realities, the film hits those out of the park. Teyonah Parris is every bit the badass as Captain Marvel and we get to see a live action incarnation of Captain Carter played by Hayley Atwell. Now for the big three. Anson Mount gets a measure of redemption as he reprises the role of Black Bolt (reprised from the short lived god-awful Inhumans TV Series) with a comic book accurate costume. Fans get to see their fan casting realized when John Krasinski tackles the role of Reed Richards (seriously Marvel Studios, there’s no going back from this, make it happen) and last but not least, Patrick Stewart finally gets to portray a true comic accurate incarnation of Professor Xavier with the iconic yellow hover chair and the fan favorite 1997 animated X-Men theme.Even the way Xavier uses his telepathy is comic book accurate with the power pulsating around his head.
The one character who really kind of gets the shaft is Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Baron Mordo. After being set up as the main villain in a post credits scene of the last film, he’s merely reduced to a cameo here.
The film ends with the introduction of Charlize Theron joining the MCU as Clea. Clea is a mystical woman who has played an important role in the Doctor Strange comics since her debut in 1964. Clea is a powerful sorceress who appears to be human, but is actually a member of the Faltine race, extra-dimensional energy beings born from pure magic, according to The Mary Sue. Clea is the niece of Dormammu, a demonic tyrant believed to be more powerful than Lucifer, who Strange fought in the first Doctor Strangefilm. Clea is also the Sorceress Supreme of the Dark Dimension, whose long list of powers include telekinesis, mind-control, teleporting, super-strength, and transmutation.
Overall Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness delivers a horror movie thrill ride through the filter of a comic book film delivering one of the most unique and enjoyable movie going experiences this year. Highly recommended viewing.