Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness: Another Spoiler Free Review.
Journey into the unknown with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who, with the help of mystical allies both old and new, traverses the mind-bending and dangerous alternate realities of the Multiverse to confront a mysterious new adversary. Oh, Marvel. Why do you always have to one-up yourself every single time I think there’s no possible way you can do exactly that? The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) – first created in 2008 with the release of the very first Iron Man movie – now consists of twenty-eight movies. I don’t need to be the one to tell you that’s a lot.
And while they all sort of share the same formula/recipe for success, they’re each different in many ways. For example, it would be bizarre to compare Ant-Man to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, just as it would be bizarre to compare Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to literally any other superhero movie in existence. Is it the best superhero film ever created? No. That title still goes to Matt Reeves’ The Batman in my book, but I will say that it is certainly in my top ten favorites, and it is without a doubt the best “solo” outing in the entirety of the MCU to date. The latest entry in Phase Four is a daring, bold, innovative, creepy, exciting, and emotional blast and easily the best time you’ll have at the movies this summer.
Before going to see this movie, I was worried about something. I couldn’t help but wonder how much of the WandaVision storyline would be continued here. Still to this day, WandaVision is my personal favorite of the Disney+ MCU shows – it made me laugh, cry, scream, and pump my fist with excitement all at the same time. I genuinely wanted this film to explore more of what the aftermath of that show would look like for Wanda, but I really didn’t think the film would show too much of that, mainly because in a recent interview, Raimi has admitted that he actually hasn’t seen the show, but rather, just key moments.
Watching Multiverse of Madness, you honestly wouldn’t be able to tell because the film serves as a fantastic follow-up to WandaVision while also still being a Doctor Strange movie at its core. But although the film does feature Strange as the lead character, don’t be mistaken – this is still very much so Wanda’s movie too. And in fact, she’s kind of the core of the story here. Of course, I won’t go into any spoilers whatsoever, but the things the film did with her character legitimately took me by complete surprise in all the best ways. By the time the final act was playing before me, I was absolutely riveted. I feel like it would be impossible not to be thrilled by this film’s story if you’re a massive fan of Strange or Wanda.
Speaking of the two characters, their respective actors deliver career-best performances here as well. Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange has always been one of my personal favorite casting decisions in the entirety of the MCU. He perfectly embodies the wittiness, sassiness, and the wisdom that this character needs. He may quip a few jokes along the way, but he’s always a serious character that cares about the fate of the world and will stop at nothing to help those in need. He definitely is a bit arrogant as we’ve seen in the past, but his heart is always in the right place and he will overcome any obstacle that life throws his way.
However, the best performance in the entire film is without a doubt delivered by Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch. When I first watched Avengers: Age of Ultron in theatres back when it was released all the way back in 2015, I would never have guessed that she would be so integral to the MCU, but alas, here we are. Here, Olsen is legitimately terrifying. No, seriously. Olsen is always able to portray Maximoff with such likability and charm while also being totally badass when the time is right. She’s the perfect choice for this role. Up to this point in the MCU, we’ve never really seen Wanda as someone who could be genuinely terrifying… until now.
There are a handful of scenes in this film that actually creeped me out revolving around Wanda, which is definitely something I didn’t expect going in. I heard from other critics that the film was creepy, but I wasn’t prepared for how unsettling certain scenes truly were. A lot of people are inevitably going to want to see this movie solely because Raimi is in the director’s chair this time around, and if you’re one of those people, I don’t blame you. Raimi is not only a well-known and beloved horror director (see The Evil Dead), but he also helped shape a generation of superhero lovers with the first three Spider-Man movies back in the 2000s starring Tobey Maguire.
However, we all know that sometimes, studio interference can be a massive problem. You could have a legendary director behind a certain film, but if a studio gets in the way, a lot of the time, you won’t even be able to see that director’s footprint on the film which is always a huge shame. And I have to admit – before going to see Multiverse of Madness, I was extremely worried that the folks over at Marvel were going to toy around with Raimi’s vision because, let’s face it, he’s an incredibly unconventional filmmaker and he doesn’t exactly fit the mold that the MCU has so carefully crafted.
As I touched upon earlier, this franchise has a tone and feel. It has a formula/recipe for success, and it seems like Marvel is finally trying to break out of their comfort zone a little bit by trying new things, which is coming as a massive shock to me, but in a good way. Eternals was highly different than anything we’ve seen in the MCU thus far, and although many people hated the film (excluding myself), the film barely even felt like it belonged in the Marvel catalogue. Say what you will about the movie, but you have to admit how refreshing it is to see a Marvel film not follow the rules.
Thankfully, with Multiverse of Madness, Raimi is in complete control. There are so many sequences in this movie that are 100% Sam Raimi and it had me grinning from ear-to-ear. There’s a certain period in the film where the tone shifts from being a fun, light-hearted galaxy-hopping superhero extravaganza into a full-on horror film with superheroes involved. When that shift happens, it’s glorious to behold.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is an outrageously entertaining, emotional, and thrilling superhero blockbuster, and one of the best entries in the MCU to date.
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