I think this one was the muddled mess we all thought Spider-Man: No Way Home was gonna be. Yikes…
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness follows Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) as he tries to help America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), a multiversal-hopping new hero, from being exploited by the one-time Avenger turned tragic villain, Scarlet Witch aka Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen.) Soon taken on a whirlwind trip through the multiverse, Doctor Strange must find a way to take Wanda down while protecting America and her unique power before the multiverse is torn asunder and Wanda falls too far under the influence of the Darkhold to be saved.
I’m not sure what the intentions of this movie were outside of acting like an Avengers: Age of Ultron-esque “connecting” cog in the MCU machine, as it’s less a real movie and more of a film that consciously and sloppily puts into place future ideas, stories, and characters for the next chapter of the MCU to follow. Throw in the fact that it also tries to be a movie that ties into past MCU projects in a shoe-horned kind of way while just barely delivering on the promise of its interesting premise, and you have another Marvel movie that’s entertaining, sure, but coherent and well put together? Not really.
I can understand the angle the filmmakers went in for this sequel, but I’m still unsure if it was the best way to structure a film that’s coming off the heels of two fantastic and effective multiverse movies in Spider-Man: No Way Home and Everything, Everywhere All at Once. But for as messy and head-scratching as some of the choices in this movie were at a story and character level, I’ll be damned if I wasn’t entertained and excited by most of what was happening onscreen; this is a superhero movie after all.
Wanda’s descent into villainy, while front-loaded with some agonizing exposition to recap what happened to her character in her Disney+ series, WandaVision, was great to see, with the initial multiverse-hopping elements and eventual multiversal cameos making me giddy and ready for what the MCU will do next — just as long as I silenced the voice in my head telling me how contrived most of these elements were, to begin with. And for as fun as said elements were, they don’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things as a lot of it came across as forced and slapped together. In fact, nothing seemed to gel the way the filmmakers seemed to have wanted (despite some fun direction from Sam Raimi), as the script just wasn’t up to snuff to juggle all the aspects a movie like this needed to nail, eventually settling into an average rut that had me disappointed and underwhelmed more than anything.
Though I’m super happy at the attempt made with this film overall, there was just too much going on and somehow not enough happening to matter, making this one more of a flawed good time than something of substance. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has its moments, and Sam Raimi’s direction definitely adds to the experience, but neither helped it become the movie I hoped it would be.