So I watched Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness…
My thoughts about what this movie was going to be were quite different from what I actually got. I had completely misinterpreted the ending of WandaVision and thought this was going to be a fun team up of magical superheroes to take down a Big Bad. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong because this movie blew me away and the Scarlet Witch is one bad mofo.
Okay, basic plot: Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is called to duty to protect a young girl – America Chavaz (Xochitl Gomez) who has the ability to travel between different universes. An ability which is being coveted by Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) who has fully embraced her persona as the Scarlet Witch. In order to defeat her, Strange and Chavaz must travel the multiverse in order to not only save their reality but that of countless universes.
I think this movie should have been called Scarlet Witch and the Multiverse of Madness. She’s the main character in every possible definition – her actions drive the plot, her character arc dominates the story and she definitely kicks the most ass. This movie drives home the point that a character is only as complex and powerful as the writers and studio allow them to be. From her debut in Age of Ultron and later in Civil War, Wanda was predominately a side character. Obviously more powerful than her fellow Avengers and arguably more complex, she was never given her time to shine. Then came WandaVision which was probably one of the best stories Marvel has ever told when it comes to cinema/television but is without doubt one of the most important when it comes to its plans for Phase 4.
I loved this movie and Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch is the main reason why. She’s figured out the character, lost the lame accent and delivers one of the best performances in a Marvel movie. The exploration of her trauma and how that has impacted her journey is a beautiful blend of fantastic writing meeting even better acting. She’s the heart and soul of this movie and even though she is villainous, and I mean truly evil, in this movie, I never lost my connection with her. I was actually rooting for her. She reminded me of Thanos, not only in her ability to decimate her opponents but in her conviction. She’s single-minded in her goal and her goal is an understandable one. She’s been robbed of her family not once, not twice but three times and her need to regain and protect them – while you could argue is misguided – is definitely one that makes sense to me.
But this is a Doctor Strange movie after all so I should probably mention him in this review. Look, Benedict Cumberbatch is a marvelous actor; this can’t be denied. He once again delivers a fantastic performance as the (former) Sorcerer Supreme but this isn’t his show. His name and face are on the poster but this movie belongs to Elizabeth Olsen. After watching this movie with my wife, we were discussing it and both came to the same conclusion that Doctor Strange at the beginning of the movie and Doctor Strange at the end are pretty much the same person. There are some moments of growth and introspection but no paradigm shifting revelations. The first Doctor Strange movie was all about him learning humility and selflessness and being willing to lose for the greater good to win. A quality he continually showed in Infinity War and was the reason for the Avengers’ eventual success. This movie kinda wants you to forget that and acts like he’s still the same brash, arrogant control freak we were first introduced to. It doesn’t quite make sense but Doctor Strange is a supporting character in this movie so I’ll allow it.
Another thing I really enjoyed about this movie was the action sequences. I’m so glad that this movie avoided the trap that the Harry Potter movies fell into where the best ideas for two master wizards fighting was shooting different coloured streams at each other. The use of magic and creativity in this film was absolutely amazing. It cements the hierarchy that magic users have in the MCU and makes that fight between Spider-Man and Strange in No Way Home even more ridiculous! A kid who shoots strings from his wrists and is good at gymnastics CANNOT defeat a sorcerer!
Overall, Scarlet Witch in the Multiverse of Madness (yeah, I said it) is a great movie. It’s great to have director, Sam Raimi back in the MCU and the horror and terror he creates in this film are amazing to watch. Elizabeth Olsen is a revelation and Benedict Cumberbatch stills delivers even from the periphery. Definitely worth a watch 8/10