Multiverse of Madness: Slightly Underwhelming



By Sean Kim

Marvel’s newest addition to the MCU, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, has just been released. Being the next movie in the MCU’s Phase 4, Multiverse of Madness expands upon the idea of the Multiverse from stories like No Way Home, Loki, and What If. The movie follows Stephen Strange and the new character, America Chavez, as she is hunted down for her abilities to travel the Multiverse.

With Benedict Cumberbatch returning as the title character, and Benedict Wong returning as the beloved Wong, the acting of the main characters are on point. In addition, the newcomer Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez proves herself to be a very fun character and makes me excited for future projects involving her. Elizabeth Olsen, who plays the character Wanda Maximoff,  proved herself to be in an excellent actor and in this movie, she really gets to shine. Olsen’s character has a really compelling motivation and goals and helps to create a suspenseful plot.

The Sam Raimi aesthetic also bleeds a lot into this film. Being the director of a lot of horror movies and the director of this one, Raimi was basically allowed to go crazy with the movie, and it really shows. There are a lot of scenes in this movie that are pretty cheesy and sometimes even really campy. As Wayne Hills teacher and superhero fan, Christian Goebelbecker, puts it, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse Madness is much of a project of its director, being a very Sam Raimi film, for better or for worse. It blends action, comedy and horror in a creative mess.” You can see a lot of Raimi’s horror elements and there are scenes where it can really shock and disturb you. In all honesty, it’s a wonder this film got a PG-13 rating at all, as there are parts in this movie that really push that line. Having a horror movie in the MCU seems kind of weird but in a way, it really works, and it’s not a stretch to say that this movie is distinctly horror. As the MCU’s first (and hopefully not last) horror movie, it does pretty well.

With a movie like this, discovering different universes and realities, the film could have taken on a lot of giant ideas. However, it surprisingly takes on a very human and heartfelt question of “are you happy”. The film makes it clear that Strange is in a very liminal state. Not only because the woman he loves has moved on with someone else, but also because after 5 years of being blipped away from Infinity War, he’s kind of unclear on what he really wants in life. It really focuses on whether or not he’s in a place where he can say he’s happy and really mean it. The movie also tackles a theme that was present in the first movie, that being arrogance. It really focuses on the actions of Strange and whether or not he has the right to make those choices. It largely focuses on the idea of how far sorcerers and witches will go in terms of power to achieve their goals.

There are things however that were not enjoyable about this movie. For a movie called in the Multiverse of Madness, there isn’t really a whole lot of multiverse. We only ever really see two or three universes and it’s pretty disappointing considering that this movie’s selling point insinuated that we would be seeing a handful of universes. This movie also starts and moves very, very fast. From beginning to end there is little to no time to breathe, and in most cases, would be fine, but with a lot going on in this movie, it’s kind of hard to keep up. Within the first 10 minutes, America tells Strange that someone is hunting her and a minute later, we get a “surprise reveal” of who it is. For the benefit of the reader, the character will not be revealed in this article, but it does seem kind of lame. It makes perfect sense and the motivations are there, but it breaks all tension to get us wondering who it is and then reveal to us shortly after and expect us to believe it was supposed to be a surprise. The movie could also have been a bit longer, in order to make the information given to us more digestible.

The cuts to different scenes are also really jarring. At some points, some scenes just don’t end, they kind of just stop and move on to the next. Clearly, these scenes have endings to them but for whatever reason, they just stop in the oddest places and move to a totally different scene in both tone and relevance. When asked about his opinion on it, Mr. Goebelbecker said, “While it sounds like it would be a crowd pleaser, it instead comes off as cheesy at times.”

Multiverse of Madness isn’t a bad movie at all, in fact, it is actually a pretty good movie. With most movies, however, it has some issues like outlined above. Being the newest addition in the MCU’s Phase 4, Multiverse of Madness really proves that this series of movies has fully moved on from the cosmic side of Thanos and Infinity Stones and has gone all in to establish the multiverse and the threats that come with it. Even though the movie as a whole doesn’t seem to contribute to the overall narrative to the MCU, it introduces ideas and concepts that seem to be essential to the next Endgame-level event. This movie makes me wait eagerly to see what’s next for this new direction, especially with Xochitl Gomez’s America Chavez and what she will bring to the MCU. Personally, I believe the the movie is a solid 7/10.