A “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” review from a Marvel megafan


Marvel Studios

Managing Editor Laken Kincaid honestly reviews Marvel’s latest installment, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”

Laken Kincaid, Managing Editor


I will be the first to admit it: I am a pretty big Marvel nerd. I remember seeing “The Avengers” in theaters when I was 10 and I have been hooked ever since. I have read a majority of the comics, poured myself into theories and lore, am the proud owner of more than 10 shirts with corny Sebastian Stan references and, overall, am committed to the lifestyle of being an MCU superfan. 

Some may say that I have a distorted perception of what makes a Marvel film great. I do not just watch an MCU movie because of the action sequences or fun special effects but rather for the characters behind the plot, the natural and dry humor and the underlying story that encapsulates the entirety of this cinematic universe. 

To put how I judge these movies in the simplest terms possible: I want to be able to love the story and characters of a movie without their shiny merchandise tags or trademarks. If I am given the opportunity to cry as much as I laugh with these films, then I am in support. 

Because of my relationship with Marvel, I feel like I can be critical when the franchise does something that does not live up to my standards.

Naturally, with all this in mind, I am not a fan of two hours of strange camera movements and forced activism that only function as an obscenely long trailer for their next project. Although it pains me to say this, that is exactly what “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” was. 

Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” heavily inspired his work in the film. (New Line Cinema)

There are just so many qualms I have with this film. The pacing was off, the acting was subpar (Elizabeth Olsen pulls the weight of the movie with Wanda Maximoff) and there were so many unnecessary dutch angles that I felt motion sickness welling up in my stomach. Why make the viewer uneasy at a time when our hero is rising from the ashes? I understand that it worked well with director Sam Raimi’s past movies like “Evil Dead 2” and “Army of Darkness” but it did not translate well into the MCU. I remember looking at my watch throughout my two hours in the theater and asking myself if I was dreaming and, if so, when I would have the pleasure of waking up. 

Right out of the gate, the opening felt jarring and out of place. I understand that it was all Stephen Strange’s weird dream (or rather, an experience from himself in another universe), but there are only so many times that Marvel can throw us into the heat of the action to keep us entertained. It felt like what an amateur filmmaker does to hook an audience and keep them from changing the channel. I was also taken aback that there was mass exposition thrown to the audience like a dog with a bone and we were expected to take it in stride.

After the opening sequence, the movie moves quickly with little time for anyone to grasp the story fully. Within 30 minutes, Scarlet Witch was revealed as the villain just because she realized she misspoke while talking with Doctor Strange. I think this turn around could have waited until an hour into the film. Even if 10 minutes were added to the run time, I probably would not have suffered from the whiplash imposed by this sudden plot shift. 

By forcing Wanda into a villain arc right off the bat, we lose all of the mysticism and beauty that served as the basis for her character. Do not get me wrong, I think she had the perfect potential to be a great antagonist. However, even with multiple misleading trailers, her descent into darkness was too rushed and too predictable.

Yet, what I did not predict was the rest of the plot of this movie. Is that a good thing? In this case, not at all. From jumping into a new timeline (which mimics the vomit of a Syfy fan who drank a little too much Monster Energy) to random personalities with no prior standing being brought into the fray, it is to the point where I wish I had no words. I was always told that if I had nothing nice to say, I should say nothing at all. However, despite my shock, I was able to look at my friends who also were watching the movie and say “this should be illegal.” 

On another aspect of the story, do not get me started on the Illuminati being the main organization behind Doctor Strange and America Chavez’s detainment halfway through the movie. They could have picked S.H.I.E.L.D or HYDRA and possibly referenced the illusive secret organization. Instead, we are forced to accept that the Illuminati was both acknowledged in this movie and it is not just a joke that we can shrug off. It felt like a comedic bit that should have ended but, sadly, never did.

Additionally, I thought the addition of characters like John Krasinski’s Mr. Fantastic and Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier were tasteless; it is obvious that production knew the names would drive up ticket sales and threw them into the cast for profit. Their personas, along with that of Captain Carter, served no purpose to the plot except to die less than 20 minutes after their introduction. Honestly, I am angry that such complex characters were thrown away just for the sake of showing how powerful Maximoff is. 

I also detested the sequence where Doctor Strange possessed his own corpse in a separate universe to fight Wanda. The joke didn’t land and I just felt gross after watching it; not because of the blood and guts but because of just how off the whole film truly was and this was the cherry on top.

Why make the viewer uneasy at a time when our hero is rising from the ashes?”

While I am a fan of horror and the influence it has on movies, I do not like campy elements that make me feel like I am in the 1980s at a Walmart brand Camp Crystal Lake. While that was Raimi’s hay day, I think he should have left it in the past or at least in other projects. It felt like Raimi was drawing from multiple aspects of the horror genre, such as the gore we see across the film and the psychological thrill imposed by Wanda’s character, but none of them landed. 

This is especially true for the religious connotations mentioned within the movie, specifically regarding shadow walking and the souls of the damned (similar to “The Exorcist” or “The Conjuring”). I became extremely confused on this part of the plot halfway through the movie; is Wanda committing a superhero mistake or an unforgivable sin? This is still a question I have that I do not think the movie has an answer for. 

I love how much “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” tried to be a scary movie. I do not utterly detest the jump scares or blood and guts sprinkled throughout the movie. Yet, this juxtaposition with the rushed “just believe in yourself, America, and you can be the hero we all need” plot line makes me giggle, although Raimi has done this many times before with his previous films. Ah yes, this teenage girl who just entered the MCU is someone the audience can suddenly care about just because she is insecure. This especially falls flat because Xochitl Gomez’s portrayal of America, while not only less than stellar, also makes her look like a whiny child who has to run from her problems to be relatable. 

However, with all of the movie said and done, I truly worry that fans of Marvel will not give this movie the criticism it rightfully deserves and will not acknowledge it as a stain on the MCU. Reviews are great so far but I think this either only stems from Olsen’s acting or the critics fell asleep after Doctor Strange fought the initial interdimensional monster; their dreams probably had a more cohesive narrative than what was on the screen. Candidly, this film de-legitimizes the great overarching story behind this cinematic universe and it will prevent others who are less invested from watching other Marvel movies. 

If this film is a representation of what this saga will be in the future, I am heartbroken and may have to turn my attention to some other media giant like Star Wars. So, Disney and other large executives curating these films, please let Taika take on more projects or put me out of my misery now like a rabid rodent.

Frankly, I fawn over what past directors have done with realism and accessibility in the MCU. This movie was the antithesis of those ideas. To sum up my experience and thoughts, please refer to the second post-credit scene where Bruce Campbell’s hot dog vendor cameo looks at the camera (again, with a dutch angle and an unnecessary zoom in) and proclaims “it’s over!” Yes, and I am so glad it is.