Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Movie Spoiler Review: Maddeningly Mediocre

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Movie Spoiler Review: Maddeningly Mediocre

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a mess of a film that doesn’t have a consistent tone nor does it have a well thought out plot. While it had a certain amount of fun that we have all come to expect from a MCU production, its surface level story showcases everything Marvel has been getting wrong since Infinity War, the last truly great MCU film.

Setting aside Spider-man No Way Home, which was just as much a Sony production as a Marvel production, Marvel phase four has been all over the place.

My goal is to keep this review as short and concise as possible. But there is a lot I would like to cover before I jump into reviewing the plot of this film about the production issues which I think played a substantial part in the many problems that face this movie.

Let’s dive into this and for those of you who clicked on the video and didn’t read the title, this review will contain massive spoilers for the film. This is your last warning.

A Messy Plot With Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

It would be a lie to say I wasn’t at least a little tentative going into this film and this is because of three major red flags which I saw during its production. The first red flag was the poor quality of the Movies and TV shows which have made up Phase 4. The second was the first director leaving over creative differences. This isn’t exactly unusual for Marvel, since Edgar Wright and now John Watts have similarly parted ways with marvel on projects. I still think its worth noting regardless. And the final, and most important red flag was the massive reshoots which were slated for this movie. Extensive reshoots on any project never seem to bode well and I can think of several key examples. Solo, a Star Wars Story, The Rise of Skywalker (both Disney Films), Fan4stic, and Justice League or rather Jostice League as I love to refer to it.

Now that I have seen the movie, I was proven right to be hesitant about the film and would say that this movie feels about 20% Sam Raimi and about 80% Kevin Feige. Certain directors have a style and for a director like Raimi, it’s a big one. Since Evil Dead, Drag Me To Hell, and Spider-man, I have fallen in love with his style of film making. The parts of this movie which are his, I loved. It’s too bad that it hardly shines through.

But let’s get into the story and break down what worked and what did not.

For me, the biggest problem is that this movie isn’t really a Doctor Strange movie as it is a Scarlet Witch movie. Steven Strange just seems along for the ride and is sadly a bit inconsequential in his own story. This isn’t helped by the fact that Wanda being a villain is rather forced. Don’t get me wrong, I do think she has the potential to be an amazing antagonist and there are parts of this movie that are amazing. Especially when they get more into the horror elements and witchcraft. This leads me to how the movie opened and why I think it was a terribly constructed opening for this movie.

We start off with a variant of Doctor Strange, running through this odd void, America Chavez in toe. They are being chased by a monster and they are trying to get to a book but before Steven can, they get captured. He tries to take America’s powers, is unsuccessful, and he dies as she opens a multiverse portal and teleports them to another reality.

Then we cut to Strange, our Steven Strange, who is attending the wedding of Christine. While at the reception, he sees a monster chasing America through the streets and rushes in to help. He saves her and they end up going to a restaurant where they make a dumb joke about Spider-Man shooting webs from his but, and America explains to strange that she can travel through the multiverse and is being chased by monsters.

Wong takes America to Kamar-Taj and Strange goes to get the help of Wanda. Wanda, who wakes up from a dream where she is still with Billy and Tommy, is all sad and as we saw in the trailers, is pruning apple trees when Strange arrives.

Within 30 seconds of them talking, Steven tells her that he has America at Kamar-Taj and that he doesn’t blame Wanda for what happened at West View because she “put it right.” Its then made clear that Wanda is full blown evil now, and that she wants to kill America, take her powers, and travel to another universe where she can be with Billy and Tommy.

I am going to stop it here because we are just getting into the movie and I already have massive problems. First, the opening explains nothing about how Wanda learned about America, doesn’t show us how she went from a hero who just did terrible things to a complete psychopathy, and why America was working with the now Dead Multiverse Strange in the first place. They really needed something to help sell this transition to evil since there wasn’t much of an indication since the post credit scene of Wandavision.

Also, what the hell happened to white vision? He just downloaded his old memories and flew off? If he doesn’t still feel the same way about Wanda, it doesn’t make sense for him not to at least talk to her. It just feels like they thought of a motivation for Wanda (one that was used in the comics) and didn’t care how well it fit into the story. In fact, a lot of this story feels this way. Like a bunch of people got together and threw ideas together and didn’t care how shoddily they were put together. It feels like things are ignored so the story can happen and this is just lazy storytelling. Something Marvel is finding they can get away with. I doubt they will be able to for much longer.

So, once Strange is told he has until sundown to hand over America, he flees to Kamar-Taj and they prepare for attack. Scarlet Witch attacks Kamar-Taj, the wizards loose, and Strange and Chavez escape to another universe where he is dead, the Illuminati are this worlds avengers, and think he is the greatest threat to the multiverse. 

In the wonderful alternate universe, we visit the memory store where we learn important exposition about both of our characters. That stranges watch is from his love interest and that America has two moms and that because she is afraid of a bee, she opened a multiverse portal and killed them. Or perhaps not. 

We see cameos of Reed Richards, Captain Marvel, Black Bolt, Captain Carter, and Professor X. They explain how their worlds Doctor Strange did some bad stuff, like what wanda is doing, and they killed him after defeating thanos. 

Scarlet witch shows up, using magic to take over the body of her in that world, kills the illuminati in about 30 seconds, then chases them through their headquarters. 

With the help of love interest, they find mcguffin book of good, it gets destroyed and Scarlet witch captures America, sending strange to broken universe where he meets evil doctor strange. They fight, Good strange wins, and uses the Necronomicon, I mean “Dark Hold” to take over the body of dead strange from the beginning creating Zombie Strange. 

I won’t lie, the horror vibe in the latter half of the film was something I really enjoyed and it gave me glimpses into what this movie could have been. I would have loved to see more of this and to have dived a little deeper into more strange twisted parts of the multiverse. But, let’s be real. This is Disney Marvel we are talking about. They don’t hire good writers based on merit any more. They are just looking for people who can check as many boxes as possible.

Now that Zombie Strange has arrived teleports to the top of the mountain, fights with some cool looking ghost demons of the damned souls, and Zombie Strange fights Wanda. Wong is there too and he helps out a bit. Just as things are getting dire, Strange tells America that she is amazing and has been able to control her power all along and what would you know, she does. She is freed from her magical bonds, controls her power to help scarlet witch see what a monster she has become, and saves the day. 

Wand brings down a mountain on her, destroying the dark hold, and America rescues strange from the Evil Stranges broken world. 

We see America training at Kamar-Taj with the other wizards and Strange returns to NY, fixes his watch, and then while walking down the street, his third eye emerges! Crazy!

Then we fade to black. Roll credits…

Then in post credit scene, a new person shows up, tells strange that he created a problem, and off they go to solve it. Ruining the whole third eye reveal thing and making the ending seem sort of pointless.

This movie is a hot mess, both in tone and in story structure. At times it feels very much like Sam Raimi Evil Dead with a bit of Spider-Man thrown in. At others it feels like Disney + Feigi Productions. 

A First Draft Feige Production

Now that we have covered the gist of the movie, let’s start breaking down the scenes that work and those that did not. 

First, I would say the movie is not long enough to hit the needed story beats for the size of story they are trying to tell. Part of this is due to the amount of new and old characters Strange is sharing screen time with, and part of it is because a good portion of this film feels like Wandavision part 2.  

Wanda is a great villain with poorly constructed motivations.  I’m glad that they committed to her being a villain for the movie, but it does feel too forced. Things are ignored so that the story can happen, and it feels like she doesn’t even know why she’s doing what she is doing. It also doesn’t help that Hollywood has given itself politically driven handicaps for writing women which undercuts true character development by showing any sort of weakness, trail and error, or heaven forbid, getting any sort of real help from a Man. This is truly a topic for another video, but if you are not convinced that Hollywood has an agenda that comes before story, I would look back at how Women are written in Marvel since Captain Marvel and The Wasp and Ant-Man. Or, just look at how Black Widow was written before Avengers Endgame and compare it with her own movie. Trust me, there’s a big difference.

I will give the movie credit though, it did manage to pull off a story that seemed like something Doctor Strange would try and take on alone and didn’t really require all of the other avengers. I have found at times that as the cast of Marvel Heroes grows, that some threats are too big to go unnoticed by other heroes. Which is precisely why it doesn’t make a lot of sense for Wandavision to happen without Strange at least showing up.

However, massive problems do arise when the movie introduces the other heroes which make up the Illuminati. It was obvious they were brought in as cameo’s who would be killed off. Even though they are heros from another universe, the whole experience is cheapened by the way they are all killed. 

Blackbolt kills himself by speaking after Wanda removes his mouth. Captain Carter gets cut in half by her own shield. Reed Richards gets turned into plastic spaghetti, and Captain Marvel gets a statue dropped on her. Worst of all I think is seeing Patrick Stewart, the most powerful psychic in all of Marvel, get brought back to die yet again in another film. At this point in the film, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. 

These deaths were cheep, serving only to devalue the characters and show how glaringly broken they have made Scarlet Witch and her power in this movie. Don’t get me wrong, making her powerful was cool and some of her magic played really well when the movie embraces the horror vibes it so desperately needed. 

Scarlet Witch is no Thanos and for her to defeat another world’s Avengers so easily is cheap and devalues yet again what has come before. These characters should have been cut from the movie, or they should have had a bigger part in it. It is clear they were added in during the reshoots proving that Disney learned the wrong lessons from Spider Man No Way Home’s success. That movie wasn’t successful because it had cameos, but because of what it did with them. 

It is sad to think that the first versions of Reed Richards Mr. Fantastic and Professor X. to appear in the MCU were treated this way. These characters mean a lot to people and they deserve better than to be cheaply thrown away like they are little more than stormtroopers. 

Superhero fatigue isn’t a new term but I can definitely say I am starting to feel it, but not for the reasons mainstream media and critics would describe it. It is not that I am tired of superheroes. In fact, it is quite the opposite. 

For the first time in a long time, I have started to go back to decades old Marvel Comics to read some of the best stories they ever produced. Even House of M, which was a good comic that this movie was loosely based on, is leaps and bounds better than this crap. The superhero fatigue I am feeling does not come from the genre but from bad storytelling.

The more the MCU continues to phone it in, delivering half assed scripts that ignore, change, or contradict to lore of their own universe, the more tiresome it will become. It also doesn’t help that Disney owned Marvel is following in the footsteps of the Comics which ran itself into the ground. What wasn’t popular 10 years ago in the comics isn’t going to be popular now. No matter how much they want it to be. 

It is safe to say that this film is far from what it could have been, but it isn’t as awful as other phase 4 projects. If anything is clear, it’s that Marvel is putting out too much content, too quickly, instead of delivering consistent high quality stories. 

Endgame truly was the endgame for the MCU and while I think we will get a few good stories from time to time, we will continue to get more of the same from Marvel and the MCU will never again reach the hights it once had. 

At the end of the day, the movie was fine. I’d give it a C-. There was enough of it that was enjoyable and I would be lying if the horror aspects of the third act weren’t awesome to watch, there was a lot of crap in this movie too.  It was inconsistent in tone and sadly more in line with Spider-Man 3 then I would have wanted. 

Thanks for watching! 

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