My expectations were high ahead of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
I had it my head that Benedict Cumberbatch’s latest outing as the Sorcerer Supreme would serve as a major game-changer for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) – and had hopes for plenty of high-profile cameos, too.
While the second part of that paragraph delivered in surprising ways, I left Multiverse of Madness (MOM) a little surprised on how low key it was for the wider MCU.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this Strange sequel and certain characters evolved in what is a quite brutal offering. But I guess I was just expecting a lot more.
What I will say before I get into the meat of this review is that it’s the first MCU offering that really does require you to have taken in one of their Disney+ original series.
On this occasion, WandaVision is essential viewing ahead of MOM – otherwise you’ll have no idea what has happened to Wanda/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and why she’s pining for two children that you had no idea existed.
I’ll keep things spoiler-free, but Wanda is a very big player in this film and it’s well worth doing your research on what has happened to her since Avengers: Endgame.
Likewise, you perhaps should check out Spider-Man: No Way Home for background on Doctor Strange’s recent activity, as this film deeply explores the MCU’s multiverse that was first cracked open in Spidey’s last outing.
With that out of the way, it’s also fair to say that it’s impossible to say too much about the main plot here without giving too much away.
I will tell you that, straight off the bat, we’re introduced to a new character who has the potential to be a very big player in the MCU.
That’s Xochitl Gomez’s America Chavez, who has the much-coveted ability of being able to skip to different universes/dimensions.
It’s through that talent that Strange is able to visit other versions of earth and meet other versions of himself and his acquaintances – whether he wants to or not.
I enjoyed the variation between the different worlds and was fully prepared for director Sam Raimi to abuse this loophole with cameos from legendary Marvel characters of the past.
And, while I was pleasantly surprised by a couple of enjoyable appearances, it felt like a missed trick not to bring back some if the MCU’s many fallen heroes.
It’s also worth addressing the horror nature of the film that was much anticipated by fans. While this is perhaps one of the darkest films in the Marvel catalogue, there’s nothing that is overly scary for the children.
While Wanda perhaps steals the show on the acting front, Cumberbatch is again very strong as Doctor Strange.
Gomez also makes a lasting impression, while Benedict Wong and Chiwitel Ejiofor reprise their roles as Wong and Mordo respectively, to typically strong effect.
The excellent Rachel McAdams also returns as Christine, but feels a little underused here.
All of the cast are on strong form, but it’d be remiss not to mention some of the worst cheesy one-lines in the MCU to date. Some of the dialogue here feels like a throwback to super-hero films of the 1990s, which isn’t a good thing.
Strange and Wanda’s respective arcs and the introduction of Chavez aside, this 2.06hrs sequel may not be the game-changer it promised to be, but it’s still fun at the cinema.
Things don’t play out like a typical MCU film either, but the first of two trademark post-credit scenes does hint at better things to come – and also introduces a big name into the equation.
Voice Verdict: 7.5/10
+ Olsen’s Wanda is brilliant (again)
+ America Chavez’s debut
+Some enjoyable cameos…
-…but maybe bot enough!
– Cheesy lines