Released: 5th May 2022
Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Michael Stuhlbarg, Rachel McAdams
It wouldn’t be too harsh to say that Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been subpar. With the exception of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Marvel’s movie releases last year fell way short of anything that we’d seen before. I wasn’t getting my hopes down completely though knowing that just around the corner was the sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange and it was shaping up to be something spectacular. The movie, very much like No Way Home, generated a lot of rumours prior to release with fans debating who would be make an appearance as the Sorcerer Supreme (well former, spoiler sorry!) would be delving through into the multiverse. At one point some people were convinced that Ben Affleck was returning as Daredevil and that Hugh Jackman would be sharpening up his claws once again to make a cameo as Wolverine. With all this uncertainty/excitement there was no doubt that Marvel Studios had crafted yet another colossal event that would need to be executed correctly.
Step up Sam Raimi, famous for directing the Evil Dead movies and most importantly the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy. With Raimi taking on the reigns as director, news broke out that the Multiverse of Madness would be the first MCU horror movie which excited audiences even further.
For all that was looking confident heading into watching it last week, I left the cinema feeling totally disappointed and in short Raimi creates a multiverse of misery and fails to deliver on any expectations.
As I’ve previously mentioned, this was supposedly the first ‘scary’ MCU movie and I took a lot of people’s advice and decided not to take my young nephew to see this in case there was any traumatising scenes. With exception of a few jump scares (that could probably be fit into any other MCU movie) I have no idea how people can see this movie as scary. You could argue it’s because of Wanda Maximoff aka the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and her twisted motives to be reunited with her children but I mean come on I’ve seen a lot more frightening scenes in superhero movies.
Speaking of Wanda, it’s clear to see that the movie’s main focus is her character arc and it further develops her trajectory into wickedness from when we last seen her in the final shot of WandaVision. Elizabeth Olsen is so sinister yet convincing as the damaged mother who has been severed over the loss of her fake (yes fake) sons. We all know a mother would do anything for their family and in this the Scarlet Witch takes her true form as she doesn’t mind killing people that stand in her way. Whilst she terrorises everyone I can’t help but watch and think where are the other Avengers? You would think that they would be there to try prevent one of their teammates descent particularly Hawkeye who assumes sort of a guardian role of Wanda in the movies. From a story point of view they would have surely tried to intervene at some point for Wanda’s own sake and stop her from getting what she wants.
Sadly for Doctor Strange, what Wanda wants is America Chavez, a young girl who can travel through different universes and who just so happens to be in Strange’s universe looking for help. I wasn’t overly into the character of America Chavez, at times I felt she was too forced. Don’t get me wrong I liked the wisecracks she would pull with Doctor Strange and Xochitl Gomez does well however the teenager with a special power in danger, needing help from the hero has been done a million times.
My biggest issue with the Multiverse of Madness is that it tries to introduce too many things without giving it any real explanation and key things get lost within its busy plot. Take the Illuminati for example, an interesting concept but something that’s rushed through within less than five minutes. It’s nice to see the odd cameo but not doing them justice is a real insult, particularly Sir Patrick Stewart who as iconic a character as Charles Xavier is wasted in a very meaningless role. There’s certain ways to fan service but this movie fails at every attempt.
On a more positive note the movie continues the visual brilliance from its predecessor and we are treated to some captivating moments throughout as our heroes embark on their multiversal mission.
Cumberbatch continues to be ok as the titular hero but there’s no show stealing moment and I feel he’s side tracked a lot of the time in his own movie. I just can’t buy into the Strange/Christine romance and even though Rachel McAdams is wonderful it’s another layer that’s not needed.
As important a story that the multiverse should be, Sam Raimi serves up an anti climactic series of events that tries too hard to be in a Marvel universe of its own. A movie that lacks any real soul with its only attempt at anything interesting coming in the shape of some uninspiring cameos. I really hate it say it but without Spider-Man the MCU would have derailed by now and that’s from someone who has loved every single movie until recent years. Post Avengers Endgame, every movie they’ve released has been extremely unpleasant and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is sadly another one.