It’s only been six years since we were first introduced to Doctor Stephen Strange, but he’s been a major player in the films since then. Sam Raimi takes the reins from Scott Derrickson who left the film over creative differences and brings his distinct style to the MCU. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness puts its foot on the gas and doesn’t let up for its two hour and six-minute runtime. This review will be spoiler free, but we will be discussing on Movies that Make Us as well as our sister program The Multiplane Podcast.
Before you watch the film, you will want to make sure you’ve seen Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: End Game, Spider-Man: No Way Home, as well as the Disney+ series Wanda Vision and What If. The Multiverse of Madness does try to recap what happened in those films/series, but viewers unfamiliar to these previous pieces may struggle to understand at times. This is as much a direct sequel to Wanda Vision as it is Doctor Strange.
I was worried that the film would almost be a clip show, featuring numerous cameos that were set in a ton of new universes, which would be difficult to do with such a slim runtime. Luckily, there are a few variants of a few major characters, a few new characters introduced into the MCU, and most of the story takes place in a few multiverses. I do wish there had been a little more with newcomer America Chavez, but overall Raimi keeps the movie tight and moving along at a brisk pace.
Doctor Strange isn’t my favorite MCU character, but it’s nice to see some serious character growth from the arrogant doctor over the last few films. I used to not care much about Wanda Maximoff, but that changed with Wanda Vision. For the first time, I had feelings for that character and the depths Elizabeth Olsen has brought to the Scarlet Witch. Here, she continues to breathe life into a character still hurting from the events that occurred in Westview, New Jersey. She’s the most interesting and complex character in the MCU right now, and she owns every scene she’s in.
This film really pushes the limits of PG-13 and I strongly urge parents to screen the movie before bringing their kids. Besides giant monsters, we get demons, a few gruesome deaths, and even a zombie version of Strange.
There are two post credit scenes – the first one gives us a hint as to what will happen to Strange in a future film, but doesn’t give much context for a new character that’s introduced. I had to look up the details of the scene to understand. The second clip is a funny little stinger that is Sam Raimi having fun with Bruce Campbell.
Raimi brings his unique cinematic eye to the MCU, and he brings his distinctive talents with roaming cameras, POV shots, extreme closeups, cross-cutting, and macabre humor. He’s obviously having a blast playing in the MCU sandbox, and I’m hoping that Kevin Feige continues to let creative directors bring their unique stories to the table to keep things fresh. Danny Elfman has a great time with the score and I imagine that he and Raimi giggled like kids during one specific scene where his music and Raimi’s visuals play beautifully together in a magical fight.
I am a fan of Sam Raimi, and it’s nice to see him back in the director’s chair with his first feature since 2013’s Oz the Great and Powerful. He brings the MCU into the supernatural and horror genre for the first time and I’m excited to see that corner of the universe(s) explored more. The film has quite a lot of plot the trailers didn’t reveal, so avoid spoilers before seeing this film. I can’t wait to hear what you guys think, and we’ll be discussing the film in more details on MTMU and Multiplane Podcast, so keep listening!