“You break the rules and become a hero. I do it and I become the enemy. That doesn’t seem fair.”

A little fun fact, or bad fact, however you decide to take it, I am not a fan of the famous Doctor Strange. But that could also be “my bad” in the resulting statement that I’m about to issue: I’ve never seen any of the Doctor Strange movies. As he was introduced into the Marvel Universe, I had no desire to catchup on that origin story of Stephen Strange, and to be honest, his story in the Avengers never really confused me. So Marvel fans, though you may find yourselves aghast that I would dare see subsequent movies without their predecessors, well, it was years ago. So in an effort to rewrite my wrongs, I went ahead and viewed the original Doctor Strange—with great enjoyment, may I add (solid B)—and proceeded to go further into the mind of Dr. Stephen Strange.

For those who have slept on the Disney+ series, WandaVision, I must ask that you watch it as soon as possible as it will only increase your viewing experience with Doctor Strange: in the Multiverse of Madness. We find Doctor Strange as he meets a young girl, America Chavez, who can jump multiverses, a theory we learned more about during Spider-Man: No Way Home. But, America cannot control said power. In order to help her, Strange enlists the help of Wanda, Wong and others, as they confront their multiverse selves. However, the solution may not be as easy as Strange thought after a friend turns foe—betraying his trust.

Multiverse of Madness won’t disappoint in the big action-packed moments. There’s tons of fighting and lots of CGI to appease any fan. But if I may be perfectly honest, none of the recent Marvel films have appealed to me as of late. And if I may be so bold, the superhero genre looks to be getting a little stale. While I expected nothing more than the same old “superhero tropes,” I was pleasantly surprised with Multiverse of Madness. I expect that it was probably the fact that Doctor Strange and Wanda were taking center strange rather than the usual Avengers. And though I still would prefer a Wanda movie instead of just her series, I think this may be the closest I’m ever going to get to that. But let’s be honest, Black Widow didn’t get her solo movie until only recently, so…

My reason for feeling so strongly about a Wanda movie, whether people would genuinely flock to it or not, is mostly due to Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, who she so effortlessly portrays here. Olsen continues to “wow” me as she displays such a talent for dramatic acting. While her past Marvel performances, as well as her role in WandaVision, have offered both a comedic and dramatic side to her, Multiverse of Madness shows nothing but Olsen’s dramatic side. While she does blend the two emotions with such ease, her dramatic side is what allows her to show off her brilliant acting ability. I can only say that if you haven’t seen her other roles like Wind River or Martha Marcy May Marlene, you’re missing out on some of her greatest performances. But she puts that “heart-tugging” acting out on display as she yearns for her two sons that are no longer with her. Has she moved on from the incident that took place in WandaVision? Only time will tell. Doctor Strange believes she has, as he seeks her guidance in helping America with her powers. But even with Benedict Cumberbatch, as profound an actor as he is—Olsen outshines even him. Don’t get me wrong, he is beyond entertaining here with his usual Doctor Strange self and the dry sense of, or should I say his, “strange” sense of humor. As for Xochitl Gomez, who embraces her new character America, there are still lots of those newcomer qualities in her, but I believe there’s some promise in her as well.  

There may some bumps along the way, including some cheesiness that becomes a tad bit cringey towards the end, but even with that I believe that Multiverse of Madness is the best Marvel film we’ve seen since Avengers: Endgame. Could it be that it reunites us with some old superhero friends—bringing us back to a familiar place when all Marvel films just seemed to sweep us off our feet in a whirlwind of action-packed wonder? Probably. Saying Multiverse of Madness is the best since Endgame doesn’t necessarily mean much as it doesn’t have a high bar to climb. Marvel’s Phase 4 has been disappointing to say the least. Is it superhero fatigue? Lack of a good story, or are people wondering “what are these superheroes fighting for anymore?” While Multiverse of Madness introduces us to an assortment of things that are about to take place, it’s going to be hard to replace the original set of superheroes before them. But nevertheless, after this movie, at least there’s hope going forward.

Doctor Strange: in the Multitude of Madness

Directed by: Sam Raimi

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, and Rachel McAdams

Rating: B