Sam Raimi returns to the superhero genre and tinges it with his sense of horror with Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Benedict Cumberbatch returns as the titular Strange as well as multiple versions of the famed sorcerer as he confronts a danger that threatens the whole of the multiverse.
Raimi brings his constantly moving camera and kinetic style to a fast-paced story that really finds its footing in its second half when the plot kicks into high gear. Despite the revelations in the trailer about heroes and villains, some fans may be troubled by Wanda Maximoff’s (Elizabeth Olsen) turn after following her through WandaVision, but Olsen grounds her portrayal and motivations in a relatable pain.
America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) has a unique power and Wanda is intent on getting her hands on it so that she can be reunited with her children in an alternate universe. And she’s not afraid of using the black magics wrapped up in the grimoire known as the Darkhold to do it.
Leaping universes, all of which have stunning visuals and their own reality, America ends up with the MCU’s Doctor Stange and the pair are unprepared for the assault Wanda as the Scarlet Witch will bring down upon them. They escape across the multiverse and so the chase, and the appearance of familiar characters in new ways begins (oh that Illuminati sequence).
Arguably the film may be a little frightening for younger viewers. There are ghosts, demons, and zombies all brought to life in deadite fashion by Raimi (and that means you know you can count on a very specific cameo) and there is an actual sense of stakes not only for the MCU but the sprawling universes it connects to.
Raimi’s frantic camera movements serve the comic book nature of the film well as the audience buckles up for a fantastic trip of a ride that also examines morality, mortality, as well as right and wrong.
Cumberbatch is very at ease in the cape, and he and Benedict Wongs’ character Wong have some great chemistry and banter into which Gomez slips easily. There are surprises and shocking moments throughout the film as new and familiar faces are encountered all of it culminating in a battle with motivations and characters on both sides that one can relate to.
Raimi’s return to Marvel makes for an entertaining entry in the MCU and all one can do is grab on to the tail of Strange’s cloak and hold on for the ride. Enjoy the callbacks, tie-ins, the laughs, the scares, and the reveals. And of course, the post-credit scenes.
The MCU continues…
Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opens on Friday!