‘Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness’ Is the Biggest Sign Marvel’s Golden Age Is Over – Opinion

The Marvel Universe was Disney’s only bright spot but after a handful of flops both in theaters and its streaming platform Disney+, the house that Tony Stark built is beginning to look a bit worse for the wear, and the people put in charge of its upkeep have little to no desire to keep it in working order.

This weekend I saw the most recent Marvel entry. Doctor Strange, the Multiverse of Madness and Doctor Strange. Strange is a character I tend to actually like and despite repeated disappointments, I had hope that with the good Doctor being an early phase hero they’d at least put some real care into the story. My wife and I were not sure of what to make of the experience by the end.

Without spoiling much, I’ll say that this isn’t a bad movie per se, but despite all its bells and whistles, it’s still disappointing. I’ll start with the good and then give you the bad.

For one, if you’re a Sam Raimi fan then I’ve got good news for you. You’re definitely getting a Sam Raimi movie.

Some of you are Raimi fans dating all the way back to the Evil Dead series with Bruce Campbell, or maybe you’re Spider-Man fans of the Toby Maguire era. Rest assured, if you like his movies then you’re going to get some itches scratched. It’s a great marriage of his signature style in superhero movies and his horror movie style that is much better than I expected. There is humor in Raimi, but there are also sudden terrors and scenes of death. I was surprised at some scenes, as I had been watching an animated Marvel/Disney movie in my mind.

Under any other circumstances, I’d have wondered why these scenes were needed. But Raimi was determined to make it a horror movie within the MCU and succeeded.

As this movie plays with the multiverse, you’re going to see a lot of new characters introduced, some of them very welcome surprises. Suffice to say, if you were watching superhero cartoons in the 90s’, you’ll get a very pleasant surprise. Moreover, a long-teased character that fans had been asking for has finally made an appearance and the person he’s played by is a point in Marvel’s favor as it’s clear they were listening to fans in at least some way.

The ending I liked was also creative. This movie is not about a hero defeating the evil villain through better fighting, but a new approach to it that I think works well for the villain. Marvel films have a tendency to pit people with similar abilities against one another, and let them compete it out. This movie sees the villain defeated in a completely different manner.

The visual effects are also amazing. Marvel’s team did a great job with their mind-blowing CGI.

Let’s now get on to the negative.

My biggest complaint about this movie is that it doesn’t necessarily feel like a Doctor Strange flick, it feels like WandaVision 1.5.

It is important to mention that Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch) is the movie’s villain. The story follows her character, who was a lonely, powerful woman who has lost both her sons. Desperate to get them back, the would-be mother turns to the MCU’s book of the damned to find a way to get to them in an alternate universe. Maximoff becomes a psychotic witch because of the destructive influence it has on all who read it.

Strange is still trying to help America Chavez. America Chavez has an uncontrollable ability to leap between reality in the multiverse. Maximoff finds out about her existence. This sets off a multiversal game with cat and mouse. Strange doesn’t feel like the main character, but he gets the majority of screen time. The real meat of the story is Maximoff’s, and it feels like we’re going through paces we’ve already gone through in WandaVision. If Elizabeth Olsen wasn’t such a great actress, I wouldn’t have been nearly compelled enough to focus.

The multiverse, which counts as a negative in the MCU, is too confusing. This makes the MCU far too busy, with many new characters, franchises and concepts constantly appearing at viewers. It actually dampens the excitement and mystery of the MCU, taking it from being a fun, fantastic ride to an exhausting mess of plot threads you have to keep up with to know what’s going on. It is an important part of the story but it can also be a burden.

Lastly, it wouldn’t be a Disney movie without some sort of messaging and it’s almost present the entire time. America Chavez, who is LGBT, wants you to be aware. “Love is love” is written on her jacket in Spanish and if you didn’t get the idea, they gave her an LGBT pin that they make very noticeable throughout the film. Moreover, it’s pointed out that her mothers were lesbian in a flashback.

It doesn’t exactly feel natural, coming off more like a “look at how woke we are” moment from Disney that contributes nothing to the plot. The pin, in particular, feels more like it’s breaking the “show don’t tell” rule of movie-making. While no one ever comments about the jacket or the pin, it’s in your face nonetheless.

Moreover, the movie really does some work pushing the “M-She-U” narrative. The men are all clearly outmatched by more powerful women, and it’s women who seem to do the things necessary to move the plot along. The last person standing in any particular fight is usually the woman. It’s almost half surprising that they didn’t retire Cumberbatch and replace him with a female variant as they did with Captain America.

All in all, I would say it wasn’t a bad movie but for those still interested in seeing what the MCU is up to, then you probably wouldn’t be wrong to wait to see this at home. The audio/visuals in the theater are great, but in terms of a Marvel entry, it’s not the weakest but it’s definitely not the strongest. It seems that the days of Marvel movies are gone.

It is my hope. Thor: Love and Thunder, directed by Taika Waititi and starring Chris’s Pratt and Hemsworth will be worth watching but I have the sinking feeling that whatever brilliance Waititi would deliver will be somehow marred by Disney’s demands. I’ve lost faith in the company as has most of the western world.

MultiverseIt was a deal that sealed the deal for me. It was an inevitability, but it’s sad to see nonetheless. Disney films, no matter which branch, will suffer from Disney’s inability to keep politics out of its escapism, and the story has gotten so deep that it’s become top-heavy. It’s hard to keep up.

Marvel is now a brand that can be taken-or-leave.

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