It’s been almost ten years since Sam Raimi directed a movie and Multiverse of Madness is at its best when it feels most like a Raimi picture. The director’s beginnings in low-budget horror comedy are visibly evident in this Marvel sequel. The campy elements certainly entertain in Multiverse of Madness, but they also go completely against the dark tone and stakes of Elizabeth Olsen’s wholly-corrupted Scarlett Witch slaughtering anyone in the of finding a version of her dream kids in another dimension… yeah, you read that right.

The film completely undoes the beautiful, nuanced arc that Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff goes through in the Disney + series WandaVision. Here, Wanda is a corrupted by a spellbook thanks to a tacked-on post credit scene in WandaVision.

For a movie with “multiverse” in its title, we don’t really get much of an exploration of the alternate universes. The concept of a multiverse is mostly kept at a thematic level and as a delivery system for wishes. Wanda views the prospect of a multiverse as a means to fulfilling a vision of her life that is unrealized in their present reality (she has no children).

With 70% of the final film reshot, and variouos reshuffling of key scenes, it’s a wonder that any of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness works. There’s certainly a better movie buried under everything in this film, and writer Michael Waldron fails to capture the same magic and originality found in his Marvel Disney + series, Loki.

This movie was originally supposed to come out before Spider-Man: No Way Home, and America Chavez was the original reason for Spider-Man’s multiverse dilemma, but it was delayed because of COVID. Raimi has gone on record that they figured out the plot of the movie while filming and conceived of the ending halfway through the film shoot.

That’s not a position to be in, but neither is being the twenty-eighth film in an ongoing interconnected chain of franchises. Plenty of MCU movies have excelled under such conditions and requirements, none more prominent than the original Iron Man. This film is a lackluster follow up to the inventive original Scott Derrickson film, acting more as a sacrificial offering to the greater good of the MCU films to come.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness isn’t a good Doctor Strange sequel, it isn’t a good multiverse movie, and it could have used a little more madness (and a saner Wanda). This film is in the bottom tier of the MCU, among the likes of Iron Man 2.

Letter Grade: D

About The Author

Founder, Awards Editor

Byron Burton is the Awards Editor and Chief Critic at Awards Focus and a National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award winning journalist for his work at The Hollywood Reporter.

Byron is a voting member of the Television Academy, Critics Choice Association, and the Society of Composers & Lyricists (the SCL) for his work on Marvel's X-Men Apocalypse (2016). Working as a journalist and moderator, Byron hosts Emmy and Oscar panels for the major studios, featuring their Below The Line and Above The Line nominees (in partnership with their respective guilds).

Moderating highlights include Ingle Dodd's "Behind the Slate" Screening Series and their "Spotlight Live" event at the American Legion in Hollywood. Byron covered the six person panel for Universal's "NOPE" as well as panels for Hulu's "Pam & Tommy Lee" and "Welcome to Chippendales" and HBO Max's "Barry" and "Euphoria."

For songwriters and composers, Byron is a frequent moderator for panels with the Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL) as well as The ArcLight's Hitting the High Note Oscar series.

Byron's panels range from FX's Fargo to Netflix's The Crown, The Queen's Gambit, The Witcher & Bridgerton; HBO Max's The Flight Attendant, Hacks, Succession, Insecure, & Lovecraft Country; Amazon Studios' The Legend of Vox Machina, Wild Cat, & Annette; and Apple TV+s Ted Lasso, Bad Sisters, and 5 Days at Memorial.

In February of 2020, Byron organized and hosted the Aiding Australia Initiative; launched to assist in the restoration and rehabilitation of Australia's wildlife (an estimated 3 billion animals killed or maimed and a landmass the size of Syria decimated).

Participating talent for Aiding Australia includes Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton, Jeremy Renner, Harrison Ford, Jim Carrey, Josh Brolin, Bryan Cranston, Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, JK Simmons, Tobey Maguire, Alfred Molina, James Franco, Danny Elfman, Tim Burton, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Tim Allen, Colin Hay, Drew Struzan, and Michael Rosenbaum.

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