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.