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“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” Brings the Darkness [Spoiler-Free Review]

Sam Raimi has brought us the darkest MCU movie yet with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.To be clear, we don’t care what multiverse you’re from: spoilers should banish you to the seventh circle of hell. So, here’s our best take on the film without hopefully giving anything away. 

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Overall, it probably wouldn’t matter what we said about “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” Folks would go see it anyway, and that’s totally fine. All that being said, we went in with middling expectations. The original film doesn’t quite hold up as well as some other MCU origin stories. We came out very pleasantly surprised.

Will it redefine the style of the MCU as we know it? Probably not. But it was definitely fun to see a director embrace the stylistic latitude they’ve been given – while still feeling a part of the larger Marvel story. There are plenty of easter eggs for hardcore fans, but the story still feels accessible (within reason). Yes, like most of the Phase 3 and 4 movies we’ve seen so far you still need a base knowledge of the MCU.

Marvel Studios

Bring the Dark

Raimi was definitely allowed to embrace his darker side in making this movie. It’s not outright horror, but there are moments that flirt with “would give a young child nightmares.” Or in some cases “would give certain reviewers who don’t love horror movies nightmares.” It’s actually a refreshing juxtaposition to some of the lighter fare we’ve gotten tonally.

That’s not to say there isn’t still a cheekiness that permeates the script. Having such a strong understanding of the tone is also a nice juxtaposition to something like “Moon Knight.” That show has felt all over the place, so seeing Raimi’s clear guidance on “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is a nice relief. You can tell there are parts where he was likely told to rein it in in order to keep it PG-13. We would have actually really liked to see what an unleashed version would have looked like. 

Multiverse Multi-picture Stars

Benedict Cumberbatch continues to infuse Strange with a cockiness that feels less in your face than in his origin story. Perhaps that’s because he’s been through hell in back 13 films that have ensued since his debut. Admittedly, Strange is only prominently in three of those films (“Avengers: Infinity War,” “Avengers: Endgame” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home”) but we’d say those were a particularly traumatic three to appear in. 

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in Marvel Studios’ DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

We sort of wish the film had been called “Scarlet Witch in the Multiverse of Madness” as Elizabeth Olsen brings the same level of quality she carried through “WandaVision.”  Not a spoiler that she’s in the film, that’s in the most basic of trailers. 

Marvel Studios

Everyone performs quite admirably in the film. Previous “Doctor Strange” alum Benedict Wong, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Rachel McAdams all get slightly beefed up roles but it’s definitely Strange’s show. A highlight is the introduction of Xochitil Gomez as America Chavez. We won’t go too much into her role, but Gomez was a breath of fresh air. 

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” hits theaters on May 6th, 2022.

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