Illustration of Doctor Strange from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Illustration by Destiny Hall-Harper, The University of the Arts

‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Mixes Horror and Heartbreak

The latest MCU film mixes genres and creates something moving in the process.

Screens x
Illustration of Doctor Strange from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Illustration by Destiny Hall-Harper, The University of the Arts

The latest MCU film mixes genres and creates something moving in the process.

If you didn’t hear the news already — the theory of the multiverse is real (at least in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) and it’s been ripped wide open.

Within Marvel’s exhilarating newest excursion into multiple universes, viewers are once again thrown headfirst into the complicated and jaw-dropping realm that is the multiverse. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” brings back actor Benedict Cumberbatch to reprise his role as the snarky but somewhat friendly neighborhood wizard/ex-surgeon.

The “Doctor Strange” sequel, released on May 6, is a magical whirlwind of darkness. As the film begins, it’s clear that the vibe of this movie is different — it’s bone-chilling and makes you jump in your seat. The previous phases of the MCU focused primarily on the action sequences and the comedic innuendos to drive audience members into the theaters. However, this past phase doesn’t shy away from showing the dark reality and unfathomable loss that accompanies those who try to save the universe.

Spoilers for “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” ahead!

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is set post-snap following the events of “WandaVision,” “Loki” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Continuing his journey, Strange begins the film at the wedding of his past love and colleague, Dr. Christine Palmer, played by the stunning Rachel McAdams. After the one that got away ties the knot with her new hubby, chaos ensues — as it always does, in the bleeding heart of MCU’s New York City.

As Strange tries to defuse the tumultuous situation that’s taking place outside of the wedding reception, he finds himself coming to the rescue of a teenager named America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez). The young girl is being attacked by a weird octopus monster that looks as if it climbed directly out of a “Guardians of the Galaxy” film.

After temporarily saving her from the powerful monster that belongs under the sea, Doctor Strange learns more about America’s powers and why she’s being hunted on every corner.

The secret is revealed: America possesses the ability to travel through the multiverses, a power that nobody is known to wield.

In an attempt to find backup to help keep America and her power in the right hands, Strange reaches out to an old friend, fellow Avenger Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen). However, things do not turn out how Strange expects when he realizes that Wanda wants to travel into a different multiverse and live the life of one of the many versions of herself and she’s willing to do anything to get the life she desperately wants. No one will stand in her way and no amount of bloodshed is too much, and she beats down many obstacles in her attempt to live the American dream.

In a last-ditch attempt to protect America from Wanda’s maternal dream, they flee to another universe where they realize the truths hidden within the other multiverse dimensions, including information about the other Doctor Stephen Strange and the science of the multiverse theory.

In comparison to the first Strange film, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” represents a complete vibe shift. It’s an anxiety-inducing journey and as a viewer it has you wanting to yell at the scream. The film, meant to be Marvel’s first horror film, was originally set to be released just in time for Halloween, but its release was delayed by COVID-19.

This horror twist is refreshing and something we haven’t seen before with Marvel’s catalog; however people are complaining. Many parents are worried about the film’s PG-13 rating and some argue that it should’ve been rated R. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” was directed by Sam Raimi, the man behind the original Spider-Man trilogy, so he’s no stranger to the superhero genre. However, Raimi is also behind classic horror films like “The Evil Dead” and “Drag Me to Hell,” so he was definitely the right choice to bring the best of both worlds to the MCU. Although there’s been a fuss about the decision to flirt with the horror genre, I think it worked, and of all the films in the MCU that could’ve taken this route, the only one that fits the mold is “Doctor Strange.”

The best moment in the film’s two hours and six minutes of run-time takes place when Doctor Strange prepares to head back to his universe. In his final moments in the multiverse, he talks to Dr. Christine Palmer from the other universe. In a heartfelt ode, he tells her, “I love you in every universe.” Although a short moment, it manages to shine a light on how bittersweet the multiverse theory truly is; they did not work out in his universe but in hers, they might’ve — which is heartbreaking.

Overall, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is something Marvel fans have never seen in all of the MCU’s 14 years of appearing on the big screen. The film balances the elements of gore and superhero crime-fighting, and neither one outshines the other. Raimi even manages to pay homage to the vault horror classic “Carrie” in the midst of all the multiverse madness.

The film is an absolute bloodbath, and its characters are consumed with rage and utter sadness from start to finish — but it still manages to be fun somehow. Filled with beautiful and ethereal imagery of the other worlds that lie within the vast multiverse, “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” leaves you wondering what the other version of yourself is doing at this very moment.

Ultimately, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is a fun excursion with a dark mystical twist and it’s definitely a must-watch in theaters before it hits Disney+.

Writer Profile

Asiya Robinson

Rowan University
Writing Arts

Asiya Robinson is a bookworm from Deptford, New Jersey, with dreams of an exhilarating writing career. Whether it’s becoming a novelist or journalist, Asiya plans to pen herself an alluring and prosperous tomorrow.

Leave a Reply