The wait for Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is finally over, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams and newcomer Xochitl Gomez, which has been described as “mind-bending,” dangerous and Marvel’s first horror story, but the final product may leave you asking for more of those enticing descriptors.
The ultimate goal for Strange in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is to protect America Chavez (Gomez), a teen who is able to move through universes, with someone on the hunt to steal her power, which she hasn’t exactly mastered yet.
“He’s quite a maverick, he’s quite an outsider, he doesn't immediately strike you as a leader, despite his prominence in the MCU at this moment, and that's what makes him really interesting and conflicted, I think, as a hero,” Cumberbatch told reporters ahead of the movie’s release.
“I think we see in this film an iteration of somebody who we've seen very omnipotent, very creative and sort of omnipresent,... and yet we haven't really understood what the cost of that is, what it is that's fuelling that, both him as a person but also within this mysterious realm of sorcery and magic. So this one is about examining that and finding his flaws, his faults, his humanity, as well as his strengths and renewing our understanding of him and deepening our understanding of him.”
Elizabeth Olsen steals the screen
Cumberbatch does do a fantastic job at depicting the nuances of Strange and while he is very much the title character, there are certainly times when Olsen’s performance as the Scarlet Witch is so captivating, it would seem reasonable that the title of the movie could have been focused on her character.
“I feel like in the previous films before WandaVision, I took up a lane for storytelling that was more grounded in sincerity, love, loss, grief, and with WandaVision I got to become like anything and everything, and really grow her into a woman and leading her to accepting that she is this mythic woman and that is her destiny,” Olsen said.
“I hope that in this film people see that continuation of her acceptance of who she is and the journey that she has taken to get to this moment. I feel like she has way more clarity now than ever in this film.”
If you were as obsessed with Olsen’s dynamic and layered performance in the WandaVision series, get comfortable because Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness just enhances that, while also leaning into the evil.
'Putting their toe into the world of horror'
Sam Raimi told reporters that he was “thrilled” to direct Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, particularly when Kevin Feige, producer and president of Marvel Studios, announced that Marvel would be, as Raimi described it, “putting their toe into the world of horror.”
“I was able to take those horror films that I made in my youth and what I had learned from them, building suspense sequences, titillating the audience,…that stuff I was able to apply in the spooky sequences in this film.”
“Putting their toe into the world of horror” is certainly a more accurate description than calling this a horror film, without a quantifier. There are certainly some bloody and even ghoulish elements, including haunted houses and eyeball-related shocks, that may be the perfect amount of horror for some (baring in mind the PR rating), but if you can handle a bit more of a scare, going into this film thinking it will be significantly set in the horror genre will set you up for disappointment.
Visually, it’s exceptional, Marvel is truly second to none in creating these amazingly detailed worlds. Paired with an incredibly intricate and captivating score, that’s a significant part of what pushes you along a story that reveals itself quite quickly, with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness lacking some of the mystery and suspense we’ve been used to seeing.