Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness thrives in Sam Raimi’s style while being another successful addition to the MCU. Acting as a sequel to several Marvel projects, mostly Doctor Strange and Wanda Vision, this overdue sequel accomplishes so much. It has stellar character arcs and Elizabeth Olsen delivers one of her best performances to date. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is everything most Sam Raimi fans would expect from him.
Managing to never have a single dull moment is not an easy task, and the Multiverse of Madness achieves that quite well. Admittedly, the brisk pacing weakens certain moments but works in the film’s favor for the most part. Characters have compelling progressions, emotional moments strike a core, and the performances amplify the experience. Raimi taps into his horror roots and while it works, the absence of suspense was disappointing.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Elizabeth Olsen, Xochitl Gomez, and Benedict Wong. Cumberbatch returns in the titular role, picking up after the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange travels through the multiverse to protect America Chavez (Gomez) from a rising threat. Raimi is at the helm as director, while the screenplay was written by Michael Waldron. What this narrative does so well is create similarities between our heroes and their adversaries.
Wanda Maximoff (Olsen) is the threat in this new film, as shown in the trailers, and her actions come from a place of trauma and grief. She isn’t the only one in pain though, Strange and America have their demons. Strange seems stuck in the past and lives with regret, while America blames herself for a childhood tragedy and struggles to trust others. America can travel through the multiverse, which Wanda hopes to use for her selfish reasons.
Each of these characters starts in a dark place but eventually finds their light at the end of the tunnel. Wanda/The Scarlet Witch copes with her trauma in the worst fashion of course, but the screenplay creates a compelling character study. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is also visually pleasing and unlike anything fans of the MCU are used to. The set pieces are breathtaking, a true standout that helps elevate the dialogue between characters at times.
The humor is balanced well, and the horror elements make this film quite shocking at times. A certain head eruption certainly stuck with me, as I wasn’t expecting it to be that gory. As a horror fan, it was a shockingly pleasing highlight of my experience with the film. In regards to the action sequences, the film delivers some hard-hitting encounters between Wanda and those that stand in her way. Having remarkable editing is a big help, as the sequences remained coherent and easy to follow.
Olsen steals the show without a doubt, her journey as Wanda is heartbreaking and thought-provoking. Her monologues in this film truly hit home, in terms of allowing you to feel her pain and sympathize with her. Perhaps this was also a weakness, Wanda’s presence as a threat is strong, but knowing so much about the character weakens it a little. Olsen’s gripping performance helps maintain it. Cumberbatch and Gomez have incredible chemistry when they are together. Their character interactions were the most heartwarming moments to witness.
The score featured in the film by Danny Elfman adds emotional weight to Strange’s scenes relating to his character moving on. It adds tension to Wanda’s destruction and makes her a force to be reckoned with. This Doctor Strange sequel truly excels with respect to the characters and their journies. I recall thinking of Spider-Man 2 while watching it, and of course, Raimi is at the helm of this project. It felt like there were a lot of Callbacks to Spider-Man 2 and Evil Dead.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a movie worth checking out if you are a Marvel fan. Raimi has crafted a different kind of MCU experience while still remaining true to this universe. It’s a reminder of just how incredible a director Raimi is when given full creative control. Sure, the film’s pacing wasn’t always the best and the humor may not always land. Still, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is an incredible addition to this growing universe.