This article contains spoilers for “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness“
While Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness may be an enjoyable movie overall, it has some major flaws: its plot is underwhelming, and characters are inconsistent, and contrary to the title, there isn’t much madness. Marvel also chose to market the film so that fan appeal and cameos are the main attraction — a poor choice will lead to a lot of people leaving the theater disappointed.
Although Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness is great fun throughout the whole movie, it doesn’t feel very special or unique compared to other recent marvel movies such as Spider-man: No Way Home or Shang Chi.
Even though the movie is called Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it doesn’t feel like a multiverse of madness. There are only a few versions of Doctor Strange, only a couple of which have a very unique design. When we first see some of these surprise cameos, they all have a really epic entrance with characters that some people—including me—thought we’d never get to see in the marvel universe and we got really excited! But, Spoiler Alert, those exciting characters from outside the MCU don’t last long in it, as they all get incredibly gruesome deaths in the following scene. Still, if you feel that they were gone too soon, don’t despair! As this did take place in a different multiverse, it stands to reason that those characters are still alive somewhere else in Dr. Strange’s reality.
Unlike its predecessor, which focused only on Dr. Strange, you can tell that this film tries to focus on two characters, both Strange and Wanda, the “superhero” who kidnapped a whole town to create an imaginary television show after being traumatized by her robot husband’s death. This results in some interesting moments, but they don’t have enough thought or time put into each of the arcs to make some of their choices meaningful. This along with Wanda’s character arc being frustratingly inconsistent with what she wants in the TV series Wandavision, makes the movie anti-climatic and confusing. Wandavision was released after work had already started on Multiverse of Madness so the film’s writing team had to gradually rewrite the story to make more sense with the series. As for Dr. Strange’s arc, it is a somewhat compelling story where his ex-girlfriend is marrying someone else after leaving Strange because of his superhero responsibilities, but it doesn’t really go anywhere.
Another one of the film’s flaws is in the stakes. The primary story throughout the movie is about Wanda Maximoff, who has been brainwashed by the Darkhold and wants America Chavez’s powers of traveling across the multiverse for herself. Of course this would lead to a universe-ending scenario, so our heroes have to try and stop her from taking America Chavez’s powers. I wonder who will win? said no one.
These stakes have been apparent in many Marvel movies and it is an unfortunate and lazy trope. The only thing that happens in these scenarios is that another character dies. For example; in Eternals, there is a giant celestial that is destroying earth, while one of the very forgettable characters in that movie sacrifices themselves to win. In Shang-Chi, the dad is tricked into saving his dead wife from an evil realm that has creatures that will kill everyone on earth if he sets the realm free, and he sacrifices himself. Spider man: no way Home, BOOM someone sacrifices themself. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 BOOM Sacrificed! Black Widow BOOM! Guardians of The Galaxy BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!!! Not all of these movies have a person sacrifice themselves by dying but the heroes always have some loss and win that we know from the beginning. This ruins the excitement of what’s going to happen next and just makes the movie a long boring but enjoyable movie that we already know the end of once the plot is revealed.
The infuriating thing is, there are easy fixes the screenwriters could have employed to fix many of the film’s issues.
Having brainwashed Wanda being so adamant towards being a mother to her children that she made up in Wandavision seems understandable, but far-fetched that they are real. However, if they had her want to be with her brother that died in Avengers: Age of Ultron and revealed that he never died in another universe. It would have been much more compelling and understanding for the audience, as he was a character that lots of people liked and had a really sad and emotional death that hasn’t been talked about a lot compared to her husband Vision.
Some other cameos and places across the movie would have solved the problem of the lack of cameos and fan appeal.
And in order to remove the problem of the universe ending plot, they would have to simply change Wanda’s desire of having free access to every multiverse to only one. If she only was able to go to one universe to find her brother then it would make more sense and could actually be doable without the universe exploding.
However the movie isn’t all bad. The acting is really good, especially Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance but also the supporting actors such as Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, and Xochitl Gomez. And some great comedy as always rounds out a more enjoyable experience.
I don’t think that every movie Marvel makes has to be a critical success similar to Joker, or Logan, or that none of them should be like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but somewhere in the middle would be the best, or even if they just make their stories a little more unique.
Overall I think that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness could do with a bit more work as they were so close to receiving a great movie, but if you’re not too critical and want to watch a fun movie with some friends, you’ll probably have a great time.