By Cole Conklin
A fascinating mix between fantasy, science fiction, action, thrillers, and psychological horror, the much anticipated Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness certainly steps out of the traditional bounds of Marvel movies. For the average moviegoer, the movie is reminiscent of films such as The Matrix, Inception, and Interstellar, with a creative superhero element to it. The movie has a complex amount of plots and subplots integrated into it. And, albeit sometimes confusing for the average viewer, the movie is enjoyable as an experimental new break from the all-too-typical Marvel movie plot lines.
The movie itself takes place in the years after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Familiar characters such as Wanda Maximoff, Dr. Strange, Wong, and the Fantastic Four are present, along with America Chavez, a sidekick with fascinating new powers to travel a “multiverse.” Returning to the Marvel cast are Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Xochitl Gomez, and Benedict Wong. John Krasinski is introduced into the Marvel cinematic universe, as well.
Unlike traditional Marvel movies, Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness doesn’t have a traditional enemy or common “bad guy.” Instead, all characters face a cryptic power known vaguely as the “Darkhold” which mysteriously controls the actions of all who come across it. The characters travel through a Multiverse due to the mysterious powers of America Chavez and desperately try to root out the causes of this Darkhold before it begins to influence their sense of reality. The characters often have opportunities to see themselves in different realities, living very different lives from their own, which further complicates their identities and the purpose of their mission. America Chavez, all the while, is constantly being hunted down by a sorcerer’s supreme demon that wishes to take her power of traveling the multiverse away from her.
If the plotline of this movie seems chaotic to many, it’s because it is. The movie has multiple different plotlines which all vaguely center around traveling the multiverse to destroy the Darkhold. For instance, there are separate plot points that center around Wanda and her children and separate plot points for the Fantastic Fours “new avengers.” Both center on their own sort of multiverse. The characters, incidentally, often see radically different versions of themselves, which severely weakens their sense of identity and will to complete their mission. In this sense, the movie is as much a psychological thriller as a superhero movie. The audience is often made to follow multiple different character plots, which can confuse and frustrate some of the more casual viewers, but for many interested in psychological thrillers and dramas, the movie would not fail to disappoint. In this sense, too, it’s apparent that Marvel draws heavy inspiration from genres that the company hasn’t typically explored.
If the nature of the plotline itself isn’t an issue to some, the visuals, CGI, art, and colorful design concepts will not fail to impress a wide array of people. Artists, sci-fi fanatics, horror enthusiasts, and many more will be fascinated with the visuals. With a budget of nearly $200 million, the movie certainly is able to captivate the viewers aesthetically.
Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness reflects an interesting new genre break from regular Marvel films. Although often difficult to follow, the various plotlines have an interesting psychological aspect to them. The movie is also aesthetically pleasing to many, and won’t fail to bring a sense of awe to the viewer.
I give this movie a 7.0/10