The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness:” Marvel Touts A New Approach

Director Sam Raimi leaves his mark on this latest Marvel blockbuster.
Photo Courtesy / YouTube Marvel Entertainment

It’s been six years since “Doctor Strange” debuted in theaters, and the long-awaited sequel, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” has finally arrived. Benedict Cumberbatch returns in the titular role, while Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Wong all reprise their characters from the first film.

Though a lot of time has certainly passed since 2016, Doctor Strange has continued to hold a central role within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Starring in recent blockbusters “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” Cumberbatch has gained plenty of experience as the mystical hero despite this only being his second feature film.

This latest project provides a deeper dive into the Master of the Mystic Arts, exploring his mental state following the events of the last two Avengers blockbusters. There is a lingering weight of responsibility and power that Strange feels, and the film’s writers do a fantastic job of making it prevalent throughout. Cumberbatch continues to prove that he was born for the role of Stephen Strange, conveying such underlying feelings with another solid performance.

A newcomer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe introduced in “Multiverse of Madness” is America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez. Chavez is a crucial component of the story with the plot centering on her abilities, and Gomez is a loveable addition from the opening seconds. She adds to Marvel’s increasing list of diverse heroes, something that was long overdue and has injected new life into the Marvel franchise.

Fan-favorite character Wanda Maximoff, under the alias of the Scarlet Witch, also plays a central role in the film. This is Elizabeth Olsen’s first appearance in the role since 2021’s “WandaVision,” a limited series streaming on Disney+. Fans who have not seen the show will certainly be surprised by the motives of Maximoff in “Multiverse of Madness,” so I would say it is a prerequisite for moviegoers looking for the best experience with this film.

As for Olsen’s performance, I think she is given a multitude of opportunities to deliver an emotional, powerful performance. However, she does not capitalize on many of these and I feel some of her scenes fall flat. While Olsen definitely owns a few throughout, more could have been done by the writers to make her role more dynamic.

The directing behind “Multiverse of Madness” will be a major point of discussion for audiences after seeing the film. Director Sam Raimi, best known for his work on the “Spider-Man” trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, intertwines his unique style to create a project that is extremely different from previous Marvel works. If you have seen prior films from this franchise, you will sense the differences. I personally enjoyed this refreshing change of artistic vision, though many may not like the new style.

More so than in any other project Marvel has released, Raimi incorporated elements of horror and suspense into this sequel. While it certainly is not a true horror film from start to finish, there are multiple occasions in which you experience jump scares or eerie feelings. This tone has rarely been present in movies of this genre, so this serves as yet another example of how Marvel sought to be different with “Multiverse of Madness.”

A critique of this film would be its runtime, which could have been much longer. Many action sequences felt condensed, leaving little room for stronger choreography and intensity. Yes, there were still instances of stunning visual effects and cool matchups between lead characters, but I felt myself wanting more each time.

Overall, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is a unique entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to say the very least. While some may not enjoy this different approach, I predict such style changes will prevent future audience fatigue when it comes to the superhero genre. Even with a few flaws, the film’s moments of fan service — no spoilers — will keep you invested from start to finish.

This film is now playing in theaters nationwide. Most previous Marvel Cinematic Universe projects, including 2016’s “Doctor Strange” and 2021’s “WandaVision,” are streaming on Disney+ as well.  As always, be sure to stick around during and after the credits to see some surprises.

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