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Multiverse of Madness – Movie Review: The MCU gets Groovy

There are NO Multiverse of Madness spoilers in this review.

Should you go see Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness?

Yeah!

TLDR: Multiverse of Madness is a little weird, kinda spooky, at times very brutal, always visually captivating, and a whole lot of fun. I really liked the plot, the cinematography, fight choreography, sound, new characters, all of it. If you’re a fan interested enough in the MCU to read this review, you should definitely go see it. But even if you’re a hater who thinks the MCU has a “formula” that you’re tired of or that there wasn’t enough individual personality from each director or whatever, you should go see it too. Cause it’s over for that talk, my guy.

They let this man Sam Raimi COOK. Consider the feeling restored.

Grade: A
Recommendation: Go to the theater, hire a baby sitter if your kids are squeamish.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Trailer

Now for all my real ones who like to read, let’s wax poetic! I’m gonna talk about how Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is really bad ass and what that means for the MCU.

Still no spoilers.


The Marvel COVID Universe Era

Black Widow Image courtesy of Marvel Studios
(L-R): Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Yelena (Florence Pugh) in Marvel Studios’ BLACK WIDOW, in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters this week at an interesting point in MCU history. Both in the movie’s universe and in the real world. In real world time, the MCU has been in a little bit of a tweener phase from *checks watch* some point in 2019 to around December of 2021. Wonder what that could be about!

Life after the Blip

Following the MONSTER Phase 3 that ended with the 3-peat of billion-dollar box office runs for Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home in spring/summer 2019 it was obvious that Marvel had to reset the deck. An unprecedented 11 year stretch of blockbuster storytelling had come to an end along with the story arcs (and actor contracts) for multiple characters who had become household names.

The battle with Thanos and the Blip wasn’t some singular movie plot point that happened and then was immediately discarded. It was truly the end of an era. And much like the pandemic in the real world, the Blip has caused some seismic shifts in the way the MCU’s world works. We’ve gotten to see that explored more in depth in the Disney+ shows and some of the movies, all put out to varying levels of success and acclaim. And Spider-Man: No Way Home lit the world on fire but that was largely because of the nostalgic ties to the previous Spider-Mens (Mans? Manses? Mandem? Spiders-Man?). And with the Sony-Disney contract situation being what it is, that can’t be counted on to lead the next decade of MCU films.

So, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the most important step yet for fans in that transition from the Infinity Saga to whatever/whoever takes the reigns next for Feige and the Big Mouse theatrically. And it’s a pretty great step if you ask me.

How Multiverse of Madness Moves Us Forward

Multiverse of Madness Image courtesy of Marvel Studios
(L-R): Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, Benedict Wong as Wong, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange in Marvel Studios’ DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

Multiverse of Madness Gets Groovy

Bro they let Sam Raimi do so much cool shit in this movie. There’s horror elements that feel like his signature style from the Evil Dead franchise. We’ve got throwback comic book movie elements reminiscent of Spider-Man (2002). There’s brand new shit I’ve never seen before. There’s multiple fight scenes that made me go “aye YOOOOOO!”.

You could really tell they let Sam Raimi put his stamp on this one and execute his vision. Yes there’s some of your classic MCU “formula” in there – apparently having characters telling jokes in your family-fun action movie is formulaic – but this is unmistakably unique. Multiverse of Madness is a kind of film we’ve never seen in this series.

The MCU has become much more comfortable with gruesome deaths and injuries of late. I swear we saw 807 close ups of broken bones in Black Widow, for example. But there’s moments in Multiverse of Madness where people get clapped in ways that made the entire audience hit that “oooooooooooooh” where you gotta lean back and put your fist up to your mouth. It was fucking awesome.

Multiverse of Madness Image courtesy of Marvel Studios
Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange, Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, and Rachel McAdams as Dr. Christine Palmer in Marvel Studios’ DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

The Shows Actually Matter

To me, the most endearing and enduring thing about the Marvel COVID Universe has been how – like many of us – a lot of MCU characters took some time to pause and reflect. To redefine themselves. Black Widow, Falcon & Winter Soldier, Loki, Hawkeye, and even Spider-Man underwent some level of reinvention in the last couple of years. But none was more impactful than the way that Wandavision turned Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch into not only an interesting character, but one of my favorite in the franchise.

Multiverse of Madness builds directly on the events of Wandavision without taking much time, if any, to get the unfamiliar up to speed. So go watch a summary of that show if you haven’t seen it. But Doctor Strange 2’s story takes the grief we saw displayed in Wandavision and turns it up to 100 in some of the coolest ways possible. Comic book nerds will already know what’s up here, but seeing it brought to life on screen through Raimi’s eye for the weird and unsettling is a feeling that’ll leave even the most cynical hater dropping a “GODDAMN!” or 2.

It’s an extremely encouraging sign that movie fans are being rewarded in powerful ways for putting in the extra effort (and extra subscription fees) for watching these shows. I’ve liked all the shows on their own merits thus far – aside from Moon Knight. Meh. – and loved Wandavision. But if you didn’t enjoy it and just pushed through cause it might be important later, later has come. It was important.

Multiverse of Madness Image courtesy of Marvel Studios
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.

Big Multiverse Guy

Brethren, sistren, I’m all in on the multiverse. If you read my last review about Everything, Everywhere, All At Once you know that was instantly one of my favorite movies of all time. Everybody loves Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse from a couple years ago. The Loki Disney+ show gave us a little tease into the multiverse. Spider-Man: No Way Home was all about the multiverse, the list goes on. Maybe for some people multiverse fatigue will be settling in by now, but not for ya boy. I need more!

Multiverse of Madness hits the right notes with it’s multiverse traveling for me. I need all the reflecting on the moral implications of the multiverse and what knowledge of it means for how a character lives their life as a small speck in 1 of an infinite number of universe. Love that shit. And I ALSO need for my MCU characters to go to a different universe and see people like *REDACTED* and *REDACTED* and do dope shit with them!

We’ve seen that the multiverse is going to be a major part of where the MCU is going next. And while all the answers, cameos, and confirmations you’re looking for might not be here, there was exactly enough to keep me satisfied and on the hook to come back for more and more.

I need 2 Multiverse, 2 Madness as soon as humanly possible.

But I guess I’ll settle for Ms. Marvel and Thor 4 this summer in the meantime.

FEED THE STREETS, DISNEY!


Follow me, Dex Hinton, on Twitter @LordDexHinton.

You can follow Apollo Media’s brand new official Movies/Pop Culture account @WatchWithApollo. And you can follow the podcast One Take Pod as well @1TakePod. Listen now wherever you get your podcasts. Our latest episode is about The Godfather. We will be dropping an episode about Multiverse of Madness very soon as well. Check it out & subscribe.

Thanks for reading all that and as always, #SupportFlorencePugh.

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