Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of “Mid”-ness

BACK ON THE BIG SCREEN: Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) and Benedict Wong (Wong) return to play their signature characters, while Xochitl Gomez makes her first appearance as America Chavez. Entertainment Weekly

Austin Ashizawa | Student Life Editor

May 26, 2022

When Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was first revealed to the public, the hype quickly shot through the roof. The months preceding the premiere brought massive trailers and teasers that quickly spread across the internet as people theorized about all of the cameos that would occur, the characters that might perish, and comic book references there might be. 

Marvel continued to release press footage, claiming the film would be one of the most shocking and mind-blowing films in the MCU. And with renowned director Sam Raimi taking the reins, many people were excited to see the much more horror-based route that the MCU was attempting with Doctor Strange. “Out of all of the teased Marvel content, the new Doctor Strange was definitely the one that I was most excited about,” senior Joshua McDonald said. “The trailer footage and implied horror had me hooked to my seat from the start.”

Yet when the movie finally dropped, reactions were a bit mixed. The film is, without a doubt, a visual marvel (no pun intended), as almost every scene has a mix of well-crafted practical and special effects that are sure to please most hardcore fans. However, the quality of the movie in other areas tends to fall a bit short. 

Although there were some great one-liners here and there, many people seem to concur that the script needed a lot more patching up before it made its way into the final cut. Some scenes seem hashed together, a bit rushed with little regard to how dislocated some of the scenes play out. As much as I like Xochitl Gomez’s America Chavez, listening to the character’s origin story play out is all you need to get a feel for the types of issues that I am talking about. 

Through this new installment in the MCU, Marvel undoubtedly endeavored to cling to frightening elements while still maintaining that PG-13 rating. Yet, in doing this, they walked a thin tightrope that isn’t drawing too much praise in either direction. Some argue that the gore in the movie is too much for younger children who just want to see their favorite superheroes in action. Others claim that it was too little for what it was marketed to be: the first real MCU horror movie.

Some cited the plot as largely predictable as well. “They use the same plot twists that they use in every Marvel movie,” sophomore Sonny Casteel commented. “It wasn’t original enough, and it felt like watching an extension of Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

A NEW THREAT: Elizabeth Olsen steals the show in her role as Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch. Salon

Whether it be fortunate or unfortunate for fans, depending on their enjoyment of Sam Raimi’s previous work, the film has its own unique “Raimi” feel to it, with many of the camera angles, jumpscares, and overall tonal decisions remaining similar to his work on Evil Dead

Despite a slightly rocky script and some overall questionable plot decisions, the best part of the production is, hands down, the acting. Benedict Cumberbatch reprises his role as the protagonist and sorcerer Doctor Strange, delivering a solid performance that harks back to the lovable, determined yet arrogant character that we were introduced to in 2016’s Doctor Strange

Along with fan-favorite recurring side characters and great new additions to the MCU’s cast, Elizabeth Olsen is an absolute standout in terms of elevating her character far beyond anything that we have seen so far. To many fans, Wanda Maximoff began her time in the MCU as a character that had little direction, a kind of Sokovian (Slavic) accent that faded in and out, and an edgy attitude about her. But as Olsen’s experience in acting has grown, so has the depth of the character she plays. Olsen put on what is arguably one of the best performances inside of the MCU to date (alongside Oscar Isaac’s terrific performance in Moon Knight)

As with most Marvel content these days, the majority of the jokes seemed to land with audiences. “It had some good laughs here and there,” Casteel said. “Ironically, even when it wasn’t supposed to be funny.” New characters were endearing as well, with America Chavez being a much-welcomed addition to the MCU for those desiring more characters from the comics and for those looking for more Hispanic and LGBTQ+ representation.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is bound to be a mixed bag for many new and longtime Marvel fans. For some, it was perfect, while for others, it was a disaster. “I think it was just another one of those cases where Marvel fans overhyped the movie way more than was realistic,” McDonald added. “If it was just a simple movie that didn’t have a train of wild fan theories following it, I think it would have been looked upon much better.”

It wasn’t a masterpiece by any means, but for most people (including myself), it was a decent movie overall that worked well with what it was given, telling the story it intended to.

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