Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
If Joker was exploited by Todd Philips to be a Scorsese homage within an established comic book IP, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is essentially Sam Raimi’s outlet for making the superhero equal of a $200m Evil Dead movie.
Picking up from the events of WandaVision, where we left off with Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) saying goodbye to her kids in a pyrrhic victory for the trapped town of Westview, this sequel continues on the multiverse idea highlighted in the most recent Spider-Man, wherein the floodgates opened for characters to appear in different timelines. Here, we are introduced to a character who can literally travel between dimensions: meet America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), a furtive teenager with a disposition like Kitty Pryde in X-Men.
Her powers are the envy of many, and Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) makes it his mission to save her from whatever madness is chasing her across the multiverse. This is a mission complicated by Wanda, a formidable character, whose ruthless pursuit to manipulate time and space to be reunited with her pride and joy spells conflict with the other sorcerers. Conceptually, this feels like what the tremendously mediocre Dark Phoenix was supposed to be.
Not only does this sequel offer terrific entertainment in the way of high-level witchcraft wars, but it feels like the most palpably authored MCU film since Thor: Ragnarok. There’s a genuine sense that the script was conceived with only Sam Raimi in mind and the Drag Me to Hell director indulges in his beloved sandpit, playing with all of his favourite tools: twisting, dread-inducing dutch angles, grotesque imagery of corpses, and an aural firework display of diabolical screams and terror-filled soundscapes – plus a groovy cameo. Doctor Strange 2 operates on the same fast-paced, exhilarating ghost train track that Raimi’s work typically whizzes along.
The new Marvel era began with the recently concluded series Moon Knight, which succeeded as an independent story that worked with zero reference to the wider universe. It’s still uncertain in which capacity we will see Oscar Isaac’s protagonist appear again. Though the show’s solo ambitions were admirable, Doctor Strange 2 affirms that these stories are at most fun when they’re strongly intertextual; major and minor characters crossing over makes for half the crowd-pleasing moments. It’s what other film franchises can’t do, so god bless America for opening up the multiverse.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is released nationwide on 5th May 2022.
Watch the trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness here: