This review contains no spoilers.
Would it really be a Marvel movie if you weren’t thrown head first into an epic battle that really has you wondering "What the hell is going on?" Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness does exactly that, coming in as a heavy-hitting addition to the Marvel Universe.
In this newest installment of the billion-dollar franchise, we follow Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) after the happenings of tampering with the multiverse in Spider Man: No Way Home having accidentally collided with newcomer America Chavez (Xochtil Gomez) on an inter-dimensional adventure.
A great but potentially underrated aspect to the movie is how even for the casual Marvel fan, the plot is relatively easy to follow, especially if you haven't watched properties outside of the main cinematic universe such as the Disney+ show WandaVision; Raimi sets the throughline to the Multiverse of Madness seamlessly. It’s wild to think that this is the only proper sequel to the first Doctor Strange movie since six years have passed between Multiverse of Madness and the first movie’s release; everything feels as if it makes sense in terms of connectivity to the rest of the MCU with enough mentions of the multiverse sprinkled in.
It's fascinating to see Strange in a more vulnerable state than we had seen him before as far as confronting multiple versions of himself, as well as navigating through loss and grief and appreciating his friendships; but don’t get me wrong, it’s not that deep. What was almost more captivating was Elizabeth Olsen’s performance as the Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff), literally doing everything in her power – even if it meant skipping universes – to be with her children. With both characters we explore the repercussions of their actions: and as Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) warns Strange toward the end of the first movie, ‘the bill comes due.’ No action comes without consequences.
Though Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is coming on the heels of Spider-Man: No Way Home this is by no means as lighthearted and campy as its predecessor. Many other critics have deemed Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as one of the darkest movies of the MCU, and I’m no exception. With director Sam Raimi’s experience with the macabre, gruesome scenes such as watching a monster getting its eye gouged out just a few minutes into the film felt fitting. In other scenes, it felt very much like watching a horror film given the way actors moved, the specific lighting decisions that were made, and how this worked alongside some of the make-up and styling.
Visually, the movie was nothing short of enchanting. In the movie's trailer we got a brief look at the spectacular execution of Strange falling into one of the many alternate universes in the movie and that’s just one of the multitude of psychedelic, trippy scenes audiences will get to experience. Not only was the movie visually appealing with beautiful CGI work, but the use of the score within the movie was well-done; audiophiles will appreciate the creative way music is used in conjunction with scenes and it stood out as something I’d rarely experienced before.
Much has also been made of the diversity the MCU showcases within the movie, and there are a few nice touches in the movie, such as a nod to Wong's (Benedict Wong) own heritage with a few moments of Cantonese sprinkled in, as well as an oft-talked about scene featuring America Chavez acknowledging her two mothers being a small but appreciated step in continuing to showcase the MCU welcoming LGBTQ+ narratives. Hopefully we'll be seeing Gomez' delightful America Chavez back again soon in other MCU films.
Overall, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was an unexpected, dark and visually-captivating addition to the MCU, and I'm more than interested to see where else in the Marvel Universe the franchise goes from here.