May 8, 2022

Random Musings: “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”

The increasingly complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe ushered in an important new entry this week with
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and I didn’t have a chance to cover everything I wanted to in my review. Here are some other thoughts I had about the film that didn’t quite fit into the review — and keep in mind, there are major spoilers ahead.

  • I find myself disappointed that Multiverse of Madness didn’t connect to What If…? in any meaningful way. It featured multiversal variants of Captain Carter and Sinister Strange, but there was no reference to the events of the animated series, and it feels more and more like Marvel wants to keep their film and television projects separated. In fact, Multiverse of Madness is the first MCU film to directly involve story elements from one of the series, as WandaVision’s arc is continued pretty heavily here. Hopefully, characters like Kate Bishop and Moon Knight will soon find their way into the broader MCU, and the line between Disney+ and theatrical releases will become less pronounced.
  • I mentioned in the review proper that most of the performers (and, thus, characters) don’t get the time they deserve to fully develop themselves and shine. The biggest victim of this, unfortunately, is Rachel McAdams; Christine Palmer is taken as a quasi-important character from the first film to basically a nothing character here, with her prime multiversal self — the one that our Strange actually has a relationship with — having a grand total of three minutes of screen-time. The rest of the time, we’re with Christine from Earth-838, who we’re expected to empathize with even though she barely gets developed in any meaningful way. The most we get with her is from Strange’s end, who admits to her that he loves her, even though it’s not her he loves — it’s his Christine. Rachel McAdams deserves better than a bland version of her character, who almost becomes interchangeable in Multiverse of Madness. It’s shameful.
  • Another letdown in this regard is America Chavez. I like Xochitl Gomez, and this is the perfect story to introduce her in, but it’s so crowded that we don’t have time to really get to know her. Her dime-a-dozen tragic backstory is unceremoniously jammed in, and I really hope she’s at the forefront of the next project she appears in, after just being the McGuffin in Doctor Strange’s story. Gomez clearly has what it takes to headline a project, and especially if Young Avengers ever comes to fruition, I have no doubt we will eventually see her take the lead.
  • Wanda’s storyline here is interesting. I’ve been seeing a lot of talk online about how it “ruins her character,” but I strongly disagree. This is the perfect continuation from WandaVision, as she’s coming to terms with her Scarlet Witch identity while attempting to find a way to be with her children (that exist somewhere in the multiverse, somehow). Her turn as a villain makes complete sense, because lest we forget, that’s how she started off, and I don’t think she’s completely shaken her trauma. Her fights with Strange were excellent, and since there’s no big team-up confirmed in the future, anything could happen to either of them. Her conclusion in Multiverse of Madness is the right move, I think, because they could either bring her back or leave her character behind, and both would make complete sense. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing Elizabeth Olsen again.
  • Even though much of it was spoiled for me beforehand (I don’t mind as much), I still loved the Illuminati scenes. The characters are pretty superfluous to the story, but we knew that Marvel would do this; Multiverse of Madness is the perfect place to bring in characters who couldn’t be included in other MCU material, for fear of confusing a casual audience — actually, I’m shocked there weren’t more cameos, as this would have been the perfect opportunity to slip in Deadpool or quietly introduce Blade to the MCU.
  • It’s always nice to see Patrick Stewart back as Professor X, and Hayley Atwell is perfection as a live-action Captain Carter. Lashana Lynch is great, as always — I’m glad she got a chance to return after our universe’s Maria was killed off-screen in WandaVision — and Anson Mount finally gets a chance to redeem himself and Black Bolt after the disastrous Inhumans TV show. The biggest win, though, is that John Krasinski finally has a chance to appear as Reed Richards, the smartest man alive and the head of the Fantastic 4. I doubt that Krasinski will reprise the role for Marvel’s upcoming Fantastic Four-focused film, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he directed it, based on previous director Jon Watts’ recent exit.
  • Bruce Campbell’s cameo is incredible. Perfect. No notes.
  • The brutality of Multiverse of Madness was something I had heard about before seeing it, but I will admit I was unprepared for the Illuminati slaughter. It ended up being my favorite scene in the film, and it kicked off with such a bang — literally — with Black Bolt inadvertently killing himself with his own powers. I bet they regret saying they could handle Wanda easily, huh?
  • On Earth-838, Strange mentions that his Mordo (last seen in 2016’s Strange solo flick) has been trying to kill him ever since the events concerning Dormammu…am I unreasonable in hoping that storyline would be continued in Multiverse of Madness? I’m happy that the multiverse has been fully opened — it lends itself to all sorts of fun visuals and interesting story turns — but I do still care about the characters we got to know very well over the last fourteen years, and I’d like to see some of those stories resolved.
  • I find it hilarious that they made a big deal about the minotaur character, Rintrah, played by Adam Hugill, in the toys released to promote the film, and he didn’t end up making even a slight impact.
  • Speaking of the marketing, the trailers for Multiverse of Madness were very clever in one particular regard, and that’s the editing of dialogue to set up something completely different than we actually got. Marvel trailers have always been very good (especially in the past five years) of never actually revealing the story trajectory, and just teasing moments in the film. For example, I believe the Thor: Love and Thunder teaser trailer only shows footage from the first half of the film, and Multiverse of Madness did a similar thing: before seeing it, I had no inclination of what the story would be, and I think it was better that way.
  • The sheet music fight was incredible — undoubtedly the most creative fight scene in the MCU, and the fact that it was two Doctor Stranges dueling each other was even better. More like this, please!
  • I detected hints of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in Danny Elfman’s score — it’s like a hodge-podge of his signature style (just like Raimi’s, honestly), and I don’t mind one bit. Unfortunately, he pretty much does away with Michael Giacchino’s epic cues from the first film — excepting Multiverse of Madness's first track — but I suppose I appreciate some score diversity.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is in theaters now.

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