Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness is the latest entry in the long-running Marvel Cinematic Universe. Directed by Sam Raimi, Multiverse of Madness is set months after the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home and sees Dr. Stephen Strange protecting a young girl named America Chavez, who has the ability to travel through the multiverse, from Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch, who seeks Chavez’s power in order to reunite with her children, Billy and Tommy.
I’ll admit, I actually wanted to see this film in theaters, but then when I learned that it was going to be released on digital and streaming, I waited until I came out, and when I saw it, I was entertained by it for the most part. While it does rely on the signature Marvel formula a bit, Multiverse of Madness does a great job in adding horror elements and leaning into darker themes, making it the darkest MCU film yet. It’s far from one of the best entries in the MCU, but it’s a solid entry to the franchise that does something we haven’t seen yet in the franchise.
Sam Raimi returns to the director’s chair after nine years and makes his comeback to the superhero genre after directing Spider-Man 3 in 2007. He does a great job in adding his style to this film, combining elements of the superhero and horror genre, which is a welcome addition for the franchise. It also presents some of the most visually stunning imagery in the MCU, such as the opening scene where Strange fights against Gargantos or when Strange posses his dead self near the end of the film. The cinematography is gorgeous and the lighting adds to the movie’s dark atmosphere.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen are terrific as Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch, respectively, but Olsen’s performance might be her strongest in the entire franchise, as she excels in portraying a desperate mother who will do anything to bring back her loved ones. Xochitl Gomez gives a surprisingly good performance as America Chavez and I really enjoyed her character. The other supporting cast, such as Benedict Wong and Rachel McAdams, do a fine job in their roles.
However, I never really bought Wanda being the villain in this film. She did have a reasonable motivation and it’s built up well, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The explanation for it was pretty weak as well. Some of the fan-service were underwhelming and it didn’t serve a purpose for the plot, unlike with No Way Home. The writing can be choddy at times, as some of the ideas weren’t fleshed out well, and the pacing was a bit rushed. Another issue I had with the film is that it doesn’t stand on its own as standalone film, as it requires the audience to watch WandaVision, Loki and Spider-Man: No Way Home in order to understand certain plot elements.
Overall, Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness is an enjoyable entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it can be a bit messy. It makes use of Sam Raimi’s direction, as it leans into its horror elements and darker themes and gives us some of the most visually creative setpieces in the franchise, but it suffers from weak writing.