The new “Doctor Strange”: Marvel’s goriest film

by Daniel Diamond and Noa Racin, opinions writers
photo courtesy of Marvel

For over 14 years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has provided its fans with moving storylines, gripping characters and fast-paced action.

Its latest release, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” has not disappointed in these categories. Riding on the success of previous releases such as “Moon Knight” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” the MCU’s experimentation with darker tones, violence and gore have attracted a new generation of viewers.

Before the release of “Doctor Strange,” the MCU fanbase was unsure of the content of the film. It is supposed to be a movie about Doctor Strange, and while many fans did want a Doctor Strange movie, others wanted it to be a fan service film. Although we get a mix of both of these in the film, fan theories regarding who was going to be in the film gained popularity even before the release of “Spider-Man: No Way Home”.

While “Spider-Man: No Way Home” proved to be a hit at the box office, the ending left many fans wondering about how its storyline would tie into “Doctor Strange.” Fans also wondered about which MCU characters were going to be featured in the film.

Despite the hype, these questions are hardly answered in this blockbuster: the MCU delivers an alienating film that contains some flaws in the plot but pleases fans with its visuals, acting and directing.

To begin with, director Sam Raimi goes above and beyond. Raimi — best known for directing “The Evil Dead” franchise and the Tobey Maguire “Spider-Man” trilogy — leaves a visible mark with his distinct directing characteristics. 

While Disney films are known to be family-friendly, Raimi’s direction brings a goriness and violence to the movie that surprised me. I appreciated Marvel’s attempt to update their typical style, rather than continuing to produce the same repeated story. 

 The acting of Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen and Xochitl Gomez, who masterfully portray their complex, varied characters, is also a high point of the movie. While playing many alternate versions of a character can be a challenge, Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen play their parts effortlessly. Although Wanda Maximoff’s status as the main villain proved to be controversial, I thought this was a great choice, as it gave a fresh perspective on possible villains in MCU’s future. It also continues the tragic arc that she had in WandaVision. 

Although Marvel tends to disappoint fans with their shows by giving them rushed finales, Wanda’s arc continued well in this film. However, I felt like Wanda’s motives could have been more fleshed out. Her storyline about “being possessed by the Darkhold” felt rushed. While I approve of the choice of her being the villain, I felt like her character was a bit flimsy and should have been given more depth.

In addition, the flaws in this movie were glaringly obvious. For the most part, the movie only explores three main universes, despite the name of the film being “Multiverse of Madness.” The only real big “multiverse” action we get is a jump sequence that is roughly 20 seconds long.

Despite the trailer for “Doctor Strange” being at the end of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and theories that the film was supposed to be connected to Spider-Man, explaining some of the movie’s inconclusive ending, Spider-Man is only mentioned once, very briefly, as the punchline of a joke. This came as a disappointment to fans like me, who expected to see more of Peter Parker in the film.

Furthermore, the cameos in this film were enjoyable to watch but felt poorly executed. Fan favorites such as Professor Charles Xavier (played by Patrick Stewart) and a few others make an appearance; however, their actions are mostly nonsensical and ill-fated. But really, these complaints are all caused by the pacing, which in my opinion was all over the place. This issue made the audience entertained but also confused at times.

Overall, this is an excellent movie to watch. Is it the best Marvel movie? No. Is it the worst Marvel movie? Absolutely not. Taking in all of the good and bad qualities of this film, I believe that this movie may well be one of the most divisive Marvel movies of the last decade. As long as you go in with an open mind, it will be worth the watch.