Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness - Spoiler Review

One of the problems with rumors are that they create expectations, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness generated a lot of rumors, and it still delivered a thrilling and chilling theatrical experience. The film is not overly emotional, it does not rock the foundation of the MCU, and it didn't have any surprises I was not expecting, but it did deliver an MCU film that is scary and never lets up during the 2 hours runtime. I have gotten use to MCU films being near 2.5 hours long, this film is just over 2 hours, but it is jammed packed with action and terror. Sam Raimi was a good choice to replace Scott Derrickson as director, but Raimi's signature style and humor was minimized to fit into the MCU. I am now giving a warning to those who wish to remain spoiler-free, from this point it will be spoiler city so please stay away and see the film if you want to remain spoiler free. The rumors going into the film were crazy, but because the film was delving into the multiverse no theory was without merit. I saw theories being posted that Tom Cruise would appear in the film, that Mephisto would finally appear, that we would see the X-Men and that we would see Robert Downey Jr. again. None of those things happened, but I didn't believe any of that would except for Tom Cruise popping up as another universe's Tony Stark (since he was originally going to be Iron Man). Mephisto at this point feels like Marvel is trolling fans, only once we stop talking about him will they finally reveal him.

The way magic has been depicted in the MCU has been a high point, I think Harry Potter has struggled with magic battles (except in Order of the Phoenix) so it is awesome that the MCU nailed it. There were so many really amazing moments in this film, and while I don't think it is top notch MCU it is incredibly entertaining and also scary. I keep mentioning the horror elements of the film because I was surprised that the MCU was able to make the film feel scary. I know when the film was announced it was described as a horror film, but I never believed they would succeed at the horror elements. The film keeps the horror elements a constant throughout the film, and I think hiring Sam Raimi to replace Scott Derrickson was an inspired choice. Raimi is a versatile director, but we know he is known most for his love of horror. I do think he brought some of his signature style, but it also did not feel too much like a Raimi film which I think was a good thing. Raimi's involvement also meant a lot of fans were expecting to see Tobey Maguire and/or Kirsten Dunst. While we did not get a Spider-Man reunion, we did get another appearance by Bruce Campbell in a Sam Raimi film. While fans got a lot of great surprise cameos, I thought the best surprise was Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez. I thought she was great in the role, and even though her character was annoying I enjoyed her journey in the film. 


The film opens with our newest entry into the MCU of America Chavez (played by Xochitl Gomez) and a Doctor Strange (still played Benedict Cumberbatch) from another universe (I think called Defender Strange) running from a monster. They are in a weird dimension running down a broken path of tiles floating in nothingness, when Defender Strange becomes injured he attempts to take America Chavez's power for himself. Chavez's power is the ability to move between universes, and Strange believes he can control her power better than she can. If Strange takes her power it will kill her, but he can't let the monster get because the monster is after her power too. The monster gets Strange before he can take Chavez's powers and she is able to escape, but she is caught by the monster and her power triggers causing a star-shaped hole to open that leads to another universe. The dying Strange uses his magic one final time to free Chavez from the monster's grasp as our universe's Doctor Strange (Prime Strange) wakes up from the nightmare (or was it real). Prime Strange has a wedding to attend that day, Christine Palmer (played by Rachel McAdams) is getting married and Strange is attending her nuptials. While at the wedding Strange hears a commotion outside and he sees vehicles being thrown around on the street. Prime flies down and uses a spell to reveal the threat which is a giant octopus creature with a giant eye. Chavez is trapped in a bus, but when she falls Prime sends his cloak to catch her, Prime is then knocked out. Sorcerer Supreme Wong (played by Benedict Wong) arrives and starts taking on the big-eye octopus, but he too is knocked out. Eventually Prime gets up and conjures giant hands to rip a pole out of the ground and use it to impale the creature through it's eye. 

Prime and Wong start asking Chavez questions, and he answer that she has been running from monsters and that she is from another universe. They want proof that Chavez is from another universe so she brings them to the corpse of Defender Strange. Now convinced of her story Prime buries his counterpart from another universe in the roof of a building. Chavez says that she and Defender Strange were after the Book of Vishanti which will grant the reader exactly what they need to defeat their foe. Wong and Prime bring her to Kamar-Taj to keep her safe, but they realized the monster had runes on it which they believe was the work of a witch. Prime then visits Wanda to ask her about the runes, it turns out that Wanda is the one who was sending the monsters after Chavez. Wanda has been using the Darkhold (the book she was reading at the end of WandaVision) to try and find a way to bring back Billy and Tommy (her children). Wanda believes Chavez's powers will grant her the ability to locate Billy and Tommy from another universe. Wanda asks that Strange hand Chavez over, Prime says that the Darkhold corrupts the reader, and that he won't hand Chavez over. Before Prime figured out Wanda was behind the attack he had let it slip that Chavez was being held at Kamar-Taj. 

Wong and Prime arrange to protect Kamar-Taj as best as they can, but Wanda is too strong and she breaks into the mind of one of the defenders and causes him to run breaking the shield. They attempt to hold Wanda off, but she is too powerful and she gets to Chavez who then opens another portal which Prime and her go to leaving Wong and Wanda behind. Prime and Chavez travel through many universes and eventually find themselves in one that looks quite different. This world (Earth-838), has plant growth everywhere, but everything seems calm and serene. Chavez and Prime decide to find the Doctor Strange of 838 for assistance, but the Strange of that universe is dead having sacrificed himself to defeat Thanos. Karl Mordo (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) is now the sorcerer supreme and he greets Prime and Chavez with open arms. While they are having tea with Mordo both Chavez and Prime start to feel dizzy as Mordo has drugged them because they are a danger to that universe. Meanwhile, in our universe Wanda is using the Darkhold to dreamwalk, which is to take over the body of yourself in another universe. When Wanda dreamwalks she takes over Wanda-838 who is the mother to Billy and Tommy, Wanda-616 (our universe) becomes distracted when she sees Billy and Tommy. While Wanda is dreamwalking one of Wong's sorcerers who survived Wanda's attacked destroys the Darkhold which kills the person doing it. Wanda is taken out of the dreamwalk by the destruction of the Darkhold, but she makes Wong share what he knows about the spells in it. Wong says the book is only a copy, the spells were written in the book from the walls of Mount Wundagore.

Prime wakes up to realize he is being held in a containment chamber with Chavez in the chamber next to his, they also are both wearing cuffs that prevent them from using their abilities. Prime tries to talk to the workers, but they ignore him except for Christine Palmer-838, she tells Prime that they are testing Chavez and him. Christine says she works for Baxter Corporation, she agrees with Mordo that he and Chavez pose a dire threat for the inhabitants of 838. Prime is taken by a security team of Ultron robots to see the rulers/protectors of 838 the Illuminati. The Illuminati is made up of Mordo, Charles Xavier (played by Sir Patrick Stewart), Captain Marvel Maria Rambeau (played by Lashana Lynch), Captain Carter (played by Hayley Atwell), Black Bolt (played by Anson Mount) and Reed Richards (played by John Krasinski). The Illuminati think that the real threat to 838 is Chavez and Prime, they say they can deal with Wanda. The Illuminati say that their Strange did not die fighting Thanos, but that he used the Darkhold and went dreamwalking to other universes. Strange's dreamwalking led to an incursion on one of the other universes which caused the destruction of that earth. The Illuminati's Strange came to them to confess he had let them down, and he helped them defeat Thanos, but after Thanos' defeat he let Black Bolt talk to him which killed him. 

The meeting with the Illuminati is disrupted by the arrival of Wanda who is dreamwalking again after finding a temple dedicated to her on Mount Wundagore. The Illuminati depart to confront Wanda leaving Mordo and Charles Xavier with Prime Strange. Xavier goes into Prime Strange's mind and believes that this Strange can be trusted, but Mordo refuses to listen to Xavier. Wanda meets the Illuminati and very quickly she kills Black Bolt (by sealing his mouth shut as he speaks causing his head to explode). Reed Richards tries to appeal to Wanda as a father, but she unravels him and rips him apart, and then she cuts Captain Carter in half using Carter's own shield to do it. Captain Marvel proves tougher, but she too succumbs to Wanda's power and is crushed beneath a statue. Prime Strange goads Mordo into a fight, and he manages to escape to find Chavez and Christine who freed Chavez. Wanda chases Prime, Chavez and Christine through the basement as they try to make it to the Book of Vishanti which 838 Strange made an access point to. Xavier tries to slow Wanda down by breaking into her mind, but he has his neck snapped by Wanda. Prime, Chavez and Christine get to the Book of Vishanti, but Wanda destroys it before Strange can read it. Wanda gets her hands on Chavez and brings her back to Earth-616, while Christine and Prime are pushed through a portal to another universe. 

 Prime and Christine end up in the universe that 838 Strange caused an incursion in, the world is broken, but they decided to try and find that universe's Strange for help. They get to 177A Bleecker street, and in the window they someone watching them. That universes Strange (who has a third eye on his forehead) has also used and been corrupted by the Darkhold, and Prime battles him for the book. Prime wins by knocking the other Strange out the window and impaling him on the iron fence outside the mansion. Prime decides he needs to use the Darkhold to dreamwalk in an effort to save Chavez from Wanda, he takes hold of the corpse of Defender Strange that was left on Earth-616. While dreamwalking using a corpse Prime is attacked by the souls of the damned, but he is able to take control of the spirits and use them to aid in his fight. Prime gets to Wanda and with the help of Wong they distract her which allows Prime time to free Chavez. Chavez makes an effort to control her ability and punches Wanda into universe 838. On 838 Wanda is faced with Tommy and Billy who are scared by her, 838 Wanda is there too. Being confronted by the fear she causes Billy and Tommy to feel she breaks down, 838 Wanda then shows compassion and touches her face. Chavez pulls Wanda back to 616 where Wanda goes about destroying the temple which kills her and destroys all copies of the Darkhold in all universes. Christine is brought back to 838 and Prime returns to 616, and Chavez stays in Kamar-Taj to train and further master her powers. Back at 177a Bleecker street our Strange goes walking down the street as he crumples to the ground and a third eye appears on his forehead as credits roll. There are two post-credits scenes with the first one being Strange again walking down the street when a hole opens up and a woman (played by Charlize Theron) come out. The woman asks for Strange's help as an incursion happened because of his actions, he agrees and she rips a hole in the universe open revealing the dark dimension and they depart. The second scene involves Pizza Poppa (played by Bruce Campbell), earlier in the film Pizza Poppa was mad that Chavez took food from his food cart without paying and Prime put a spell where Pizza Poppa's arm kept hitting himself. In the post-credits scene Pizza Poppa is still being hit when the spell finally ends with Pizza Poppa proclaiming "it's over" as the film ends.


While this film might not be top tier MCU, it is an incredibly entertaining film from start to finish, and it an interesting entry into the MCU filmography. There was constant action throughout the film, the movie never slowed down, and that is why I found the run time of the film to fly by so quickly. The introduction of the movie was a little confusing as we were thrown into the middle of an action sequence. I wonder if that opening sequence was a reshoot, the visual effects were the worst of the film, and you kind of were dropped right in. I do think there was a lot of detail that opening scene that was crucial for later, it will take more viewings for me to really appreciate all the details. If you had watched Marvel's What If series then this movie would make a lot more sense, but it was not essential to follow the movie. As someone who has followed most of Marvel's entries, I like that they reward fans who watched, but for fans who are less knowledgeable this movie might be too hard to appreciate everything. No everything was great, but I enjoyed the film a lot, and I don't really have any complaint besides Wanda's shift to villain was not really earned. 

While the film did not have the same punch that the ending of No Way Home gave us, the film's biggest emotional character was Wanda. After WandaVision, the characters of Wanda and Vision became tragic characters. Wanda has lost so much since she entered the MCU, she has lost her brother, her lover and her children. Wanda did some bad things in WandaVision, but by the end of the show she realized her mistakes and righted her wrongs as best as she could. I truly felt for Wanda in this film, all those losses took a toll on her, and she tried to use the Darkhold to get her kids back. I understand why she did what she did, but I wish the film showed us that journey for her. For people who did not watch WandaVision (and even for me) it was jarring going from where we saw her in WandaVision to her going bad in Multiverse of Madness. I thought the villain turn was done too fast in the film, and it was especially hard to follow if you had not seen WandaVision or remembered it very well. I kept waiting for a third villain to appear where Wanda and Strange would need to work together to defeat, it was probably a smart thing that they didn't introduce another villain. Wanda's story is so powerful, I can totally empathize with her and I understand why she turned to the Darkhold. I have seen all the films and the series and I think Wanda has been given some of the best material to work with. Elizabeth Olsen has been amazing in the role, she can be both so sweet and loveable and in the next second be utterly terrifying. 

After meeting Kang in the finale of Loki, I have been excited to see him again, and I was wondering if we might meet another Kang in one of the multiverses. Multiverse of Madness did not include Kang, but I know he will be a big part of Loki season two and the next Ant-Man and the Wasp film. I think Elizabeth Olsen did an amazing job in the film, I wish she got more attention for how great she was. I think Olsen was the star of this film, I really hope she is still alive (I think she is, before the temple collapsed there was red burst of light). While we did not get to see Kang, we at least got to see a fantastic and chilling performance by Elizabeth Olsen. I don't think I am ready to figure where this film goes in the rankings; it is even more complicated by the fact that at some point I will need to add the shows into the rankings. Multiverse of Madness was a big film, but it does not appear to created very big ripples in the MCU. While we got our first MCU appearance of Professor X, Reed Richards and Black Bolt it does not mean we will be seeing in the 616 Marvel universe anytime soon. Multiverse of Madness was an epic and thrilling film that was self-contained; I wish the film was more transformative to the MCU. Marvel has been ramming the multiverse down our throats since Spider-Man: Far From Home, I wonder when it will finally burst wide open. I have been trying to figure out what Marvel is building towards with the multiverse, is it all a setup to bring the Fantastic Four, X-Men and Inhumans into the MCU. One thing being mentioned is Secret Wars, which is a story where various heroes and villains from across the multiverse are brought together to fight each other. Secret Wars would burst open the doors to everything, but that is if this is what they are planning to do. 

It is time to finally tackle the cameos which included John Krasinski and Sir Patrick Stewart making fans very happy. John Krasinski has been the fans choice for a long time to play Reed Richards, he did not get enough screen time for me to know if he will make a good Reed Richards. Seeing Stewart play Charles Xavier again was amazing, he was so great, and his performance felt perfectly inline with what he did during the X-Men films. The most surprising appearance was by Black Bolt, getting Anson Mount to return to the role after the Inhumans series was a massive flop shocked me. Marvel had plans for an Inhumans film, but the TV division got there first and made a really bad Inhumans show. I wonder if Black Bolt's appearance might make room for the Inhumans to be in the MCU. Since Disney bought Fox, fans have been waiting for the X-Men and Fantastic Four to join the MCU, and Multiverse of Madness has planted those seeds. Will Patrick Stewart be our Professor X, I am not sure he is older and I am not sure if Marvel will want to start fresh. I do believe that John Krasinski will be Reed Richards, it feels like a done deal and Marvel is waiting for the right time to make it official. The small touches to the introduction to the Illuminati was appreciated, we got confirmation that the Charles Xavier in this film is the same one from the 1990's X-Men animated show. Having them all defeated so quickly by Wanda was disappointing for some, but it was essential to the story. This universe with the Illuminati appeared overly arrogant about their abilities, and it made sense that Wanda would be able to defeat them so easily. These versions of the characters will be different from those who join the MCU, if we got the heroic versions the MCU wants than these characters would feel too similar. Captain Carter and Captain Marvel Maria Rambeau were both great, and they seemed to be tougher than their counterparts.

Even though I do not think Multiverse of Madness was a top tier MCU film it was entertaining and it kept me on the edge of my seat. If I take away how it ranks compared to other films in the MCU I am going to give Multiverse of Madness an 8/10. Multiverse of Madness was Elizabeth Olsen's film, she extraordinary and she was legitimately terrifying at points in the film while also being the emotional anchor for the film. Between WandaVision and Multiverse of Madness Wanda has become the most interesting and sympathetic character in the MCU. I can only imagine much more powerful it would have been if Vision had been in the film, imagine if he was in the Illuminati or if the grey Vision from WandaVision appeared. That is a missed opportunity, but maybe Wanda's story is not over, and Vision will play a role in the future. The MCU was not dramatically changed by Multiverse of Madness, nothing happened that will upset the current state of the MCU. I thought going into the film that Multiverse of Madness and Now Way Home would shake the MCU up, but both have as yet to have any real consequences. I think fans will enjoy Multiverse of Madness, but I do not think anybody will come away with their minds blown. I heartily encourage fans of the MCU to embrace Multiverse of Madness, it is a little weird, a little horror and non-stop action.

Thank you for reading my review, and I apologize for how long it took to get done. I will be writing a lot more frequently so stay tuned for reviews of Obi-Wan, The Boys season 3 and Top Gun: Maverick.

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