Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the twenty-eighth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the second solo movie for its protagonist, Stephen Strange. It’s also a distinctly-directed movie that bears all of Sam Raimi’s hallmarks. Freaky ghouls? Check. Unusual editing that heightens the tension? Check. Oldsmobile Delta 88? He’s never directed a movie where it didn’t show up!
So, how did the master of the laugh-scream horror-comedy bring his personal touch to the MCU? With aplomb, to hear his fans tell it.
Fans of Marvel comics won’t be surprised to hear that a Dr. Strange movie is weird and a little scary. After all, the protagonist is the Master of the Mystic Arts, and he often tangles with extradimensional beings that threaten the fabric of reality. You know, really laid-back stuff. Within the pages of Dr. Strange comics, readers have seen Stephen tangle with the demon lord Mephisto and the Lord of Dreams, Nightmare.
As such, it should come as no surprise that Sam Raimi is a perfect fit for a Strange solo outing. After all, Scott Derickson, the director of the first Doctor Strange movie, is also well-known for directing the horror film Sinister. What’s the point of having your protagonist cast spells if he doesn’t cross paths with demons and ghosts?
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is rated PG-13, but it really stretches that rating. Several characters are brutally dispatched by the villain, and the film revels in a number of jump scares throughout its middle act. On its surface, it’s the “scariest” Marvel movie yet.
Thematically, it’s possibly not as grim as Infinity War or Endgame, since those films deal with the obliteration of half of all life in the universe.
Unlike the Avengers movies, though, Multiverse of Madness is shot with the same cinematography you’d expect from a Raimi film like Evil Dead. Any Raimi fans expecting something like his Spider-Man trilogy will be surprised at how little this movie looks and feels like a superhero flick.
The horror genre and superhero movies are like peanut butter and chocolate. They both work great on their own, and they might sound a bit odd together until you try them. But once you give the combination a shot, you’ll find each flavor brings out something great in its counterpart.
That’s what Multiverse of Madness does with its various genre influences. Our main takeaway from the latest Strange movie is that Sam Raimi should direct a Marvel Zombies TV show for Disney+. Get on it, Disney!