I actually liked Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Remember that.
Episode 26: The Revenge of the Baby Brained Smooth Skulls
Doctor Strange has always been the Marvel character struggling to get back to the relevance it had with stoned college kids in the mid 1960s. Then, Steve Ditko got deep into Ayn Rand and Stan Lee went Hollywood. What followed was decades of frequently nearly great stories with an amazing run by Roger Stern in the early 1980s. So, what does that mean for the family of four taking a trip to the Multiplex to see Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness?
If you’re a Disney Adult, family or pop culture enthusiast that has been following everything Marvel over the last few years, then you realize how much you need to know before the movie. Multiverse of Madness is dependent on knowing about WandaVision, Infinity War, Endgame and No Way Home. That’s a lot of investment for a movie about a magical war orphan and the mangled hand wizard trying to keep her calm.
But, Disney is nothing if not aware of corporate synergy. So, they choose to throw America Chavez, The Illuminati and Chthon for future seeding. I’d make a joke about the Bond series doing the same amount of work in more time, but another web personality made the joke before me. So, what is the Multiverse of Madness to the general public? Well, it’s the same as any single issue of an on-going comic. It gets the main characters from Point A to Point B while setting up the next event.
WandaVision 1.5: Marvel continues the inability to solve Wanda Maximoff
The Scarlet Witch has constantly been the victim of Marvel Comics not knowing what to do with her. Many have been quick to blame the lack of female writers for giving her agency. But, we’ve had multiple years of female writers taking a crack at her to the same effect. What is so hard about writing a sorceress in the Multiverse of Madness or in the comics? A lot of it has to do with her baggage.
The most interesting thing about Wanda in the books for decades was her robot sexual fetish and Magneto abandoning her as a child. From there, every Johnny Wunderkind took a crack at showing us the real Wanda. She wants her husband back, no she wants her kids. Eventually, she blames mutants for distracting Daddy from her wants and needs, then that led into a whole thing.
Then, we had the MCU who was going to show what worked about her character in the 1960s and that lasted a whole two movies. Now, she’s Manic Succubus Nightmare Witch and we’ve got to watch 1950s subtext get wedged into between wisecracks and minimal plot development. But, Sam Raimi is directing again for the first time in a decade. So, it looks good.
Doctor Stephen Strange and the 3rd Act Temple of Doom in the Multiverse of Madness
Dr. Strange is a complicated character who is finding his footing in the MCU as a supporting character. That being said, he doesn’t feel necessary that often in the Multiverse of Madness. Wong is the Sorcerer Supreme, Wanda is the villain and America Chavez fills in as the token Peter Parker sidekick. From there, the Multiverse of Madness struggles to keep Dr. Strange in play throughout the festivities.
When we meet the Illuminati or learn the dark secrets of the Darkhold, Strange might as well be an additional magic user throughout the adventure. There comes a point in these films where you need to give the feature character a reason for being part of the story. When you sideline them, you get things like The Dark World or Iron Man 2.
Less on Iron Man 2, that film had plenty of time to screw up Tony Stark on its own. We’re hitting a point in Phase 4 where it’s seeming like Endgame was the logical end to a lot of what was at play. Given the desire for Feige to turn the films into their comic like experience, the medium’s demands will end up breaking the experience. Don’t believe me? Grab any three of your friends with Disney Plus, but aren’t active watchers. Ask them to explain Moon Knight to you.
While you watch their confused faces, turn an eye back to the Multiverse of Madness. That’s the shroud covering this movie and it’s entirely self-inflicted.