By: Valeri Guevarra, Editor in Chief (‘22)
The multiverse saga continues with Dr. Strange and Wanda in Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen, the movie premiered two weeks ago on May 6th after much anticipation built up since the film was announced way back at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019. A movie that I personally was very excited about seems to be receiving reviews across the board from critics and fans, including this one.
I admit I wasn’t crazy about Dr. Strange and his first film outing when it came out in 2016. Of course, I wasn’t as avid of an MCU fan then, but the first Dr. Strange is not my first pick for an MCU to rewatch for enjoyment. However, his crucial appearances in Avengers Infinity War, Avengers Endgame, and Spider-Man Far from Home have made me like the character and become excited about his future. Plus, Benedict Cumberbatch is superb in the role.
On the other hand, Wanda is the spectacle in this film. After WandaVision, which I also reviewed last year, I noted how Wanda’s future and conflict after her show are one to watch in this film. Like her streaming show, fan theories swirled leading up to Dr. Strange 2 about her role and what she would do to reunite with Vision and her kids. As an MCU-obsessed young man, I did read about the theories (the reasonable ones) and was also highly anticipating this film.
Let’s say the film is not what I expected. A good word to describe my overall impression of the film is underwhelming. Dr. Strange 2 has had a lot of build-up to it from both a multiverse story and character development, including Spider-Man No Way Home, a 6-hour streaming show, and two post-credit scenes (one in WandaVision and one in Shang-Chi), so I expected true “multiverse madness” from the film, but the minimal amount of cameos (The Illuminati was cool, but they all got killed within 10 minutes so) or traveling to other multiverses in the film weren’t enough to satisfy the expectations that were set up for the film.
America Chavez is another disappointment of the film. At best, she’s a witty and funny conversation partner to Strange, but at worst, and for most of the movie, she’s a plot device that serves as basically the time stone in Infinity War that needs to be kept from Thanos. The story centers solely on keeping America away from Wanda and doesn’t explore her character and backstory in-depth, except for a very short scene explaining that her parents are somewhere lost in the multiverse because of her. This is an especially disappointing aspect of the movie as this is America Chavez’s MCU debut.
The film was not all bad, though. The acting performances from Olsen and Cumberbatch, as usual, are excellent. They hit all of the emotional and physical points, and as mentioned in the Tonight Show, they are excellent hand actors, enhancing the spell, magic, and mystic arts scenes. The post credit scenes, or rather scene since the second was more of a continuation of a joke in the film not a preview, were not the best, but upon further research, it sets up Doctor Strange’s general future and future love interest well, especially after he officially closes the book and moves on from Christine Palmer. Also, Sam Rami’s influence on the movie is also fun to watch if you disregard this one scene where Christine, America, and Strange are in the tunnel. That scene was just awkward. Overall, I don’t recommend rushing to the theater to watch Doctor Strange, especially by now when you’ve probably already seen spoilers, but I do say to watch it when it comes out on Disney+ or rental on video renting platforms. It’s a fun ride at the moment, and Olsen and Cumberbatch are fantastic to watch, but if you’ve a strong MCU fan, lower your expectations a little. It’s more Doctor Strange: Multiverse Adventure than Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness.