Doctor Strange is no exception to Marvel’s great decline

Wong%2C+Doctor+Strange%2C+and+America+look+in+horror+at+what+Wanda+is+doing+to+other+sorcerers+in+the+multiverse.+

Provided courtesy of rogerebert.com

Wong, Doctor Strange, and America look in horror at what Wanda is doing to other sorcerers in the multiverse.

Hearing that a new Marvel movie is coming to theaters always elicits a certain amount of excitement. Some favorites include Spiderman Into the Spiderverse (2018), Avengers End Game (2019), Black Panther (2018), Antman (2015) and Thor Ragnarok (2017). These blockbusters all have something in common besides being from the same Marvel comic book series – all have simple plot lines with visually pleasing action woven together with solid acting, relatable characters, and telling humor. Unfortunately, these aspects are all missing from the new Doctor Strange movie.  

This movie was disappointing on so many levels.”

— Ellis Chamberlin

Last year, Marvel released four new movies:
Spiderman No Way Home (2021), Black Widow (2021), Shang Chi (2021), and Eternals (2021) all making millions at the box office but letting down Marvel fans. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness released on May 6, continues this streak of disappointing Marvel movies. This movie features a complex plot line, mediocre acting, unrelatable characters, and limited humor. 

This movie introduces the audience to a new Marvel character, America (Xochitl Gomez), whose power is her ability to travel across the multiverse. Throughout the film, America faces consistent perils as various creatures pursue her powers.  The audience is dropped into action in the opening scene following America and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) running from a fire monster in a separate multiverse striving to extract America’s power.

After realizing that he can’t solely protect America, Doctor Strange seeks out the help of the Scarlet Witch, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), to help fight off these monsters. Wanda is uninterested in helping because she too wants America’s power for herself so she can travel across the multiverse and reunite with her two sons. Given Wanda’s immense power, Doctor Strange realizes America has to escape to yet another universe to give them time to figure out a way to stop Wanda. 

This movie was disappointing on so many levels. The plot was utterly confusing and hard to follow. Besides 16-year-old newcomer Xochitl Gomez, the acting also left a lot to be desired. The emotional encounters felt fake and the script felt expected. Even the beloved humor that is typical to Marvel movies felt forced and was largely absent. 

Despite the negatives, the special effects and computer-generated imagery were top notch. In one of these scenes Doctor Strange and America transform from human form, to paint form, to animated beings, to different shapes, before arriving to a new universe. This sequence was unexpected and leaves the audience wanting more.

Another positive was the eerie overall tone and approach to the movie. This can be credited to the director Sam Raimi who has directed the Spiderman trilogy and multiple horror and zombie films such as the famed Evil Dead franchise, Drag me to Hell (2009) and Army of Darkness (1992). The movie provided plenty of jump scares and hide-your-eyes types of scenes that felt different than many other Marvel movies.  

In the end, the biggest issue with this movie was the chaos of plotlines and multiverses making it impossible to follow. Unlike Spiderman Into the Spiderverse, Doctor Strange failed to use the multiverse in an interesting way, leaving it with a rating of 2 out of 5 feathers.