Movie Review – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

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Once upon a time in the early days of the MCU it was not uncommon to have more than a year between films set against the shared Marvel backdrop. Between The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2 fans had to wait nearly 2 years. Now with the well oiled machine of the MCU cranking out content between feature films and Disney+ series the hype train for Marvel content has definitely left the station. So with Doctor Strange last appearing in the Billion dollar Spider-Man: No Way Home, can Doctor Strange 2 keep the wrecking ball going?

Right up front we have to say while we are going to give a spoiler free review of the film there is some stuff you have to know walking into any film in the MCU, more so for any film which is a sequel. With up to Infinity War clocking in at over 3000 hours of content to consume we are going to have to assume you have the basics down so we can just bring you up to speed with post End Game events. Since the end of the Infinity War saga there have been 4 films (not including Far from Home as a Phase 4 epilogue) with another 6 Disney+ streaming series, so there is just a bit going in.

As you might have guessed from the title of the latest Doctor Strange film the Multiverse is central to what is going on. Prior to No Way Home the Multiverse was only teased in the MCU with the first Doctor Strange being the only real confirmation of it’s MCU existence with other dimensions such as the Dark Dimension. While there have been fake out it wasn’t until the end of Loki that the MCU (Earth-199999) where He Who Remains who was also preventing divergent timelines aka the Multiverse from occurring that things started to fracture. The Multiverse no longer being held in check things started to fracture with Wanda’s power growing in Wandavision (enough to be able to end up with the Darkhold by the end to level up her spellcasting), Doctor Strange being able to pierce the multiverse in No Way Home and pretty much all of What If being possible.

While in the comics (the 616 Universe) jumping between Universes is fairly common it was not without consequence with the most famous being Secret Wars that saw when 2 universes colliding that both would be destroyed. In the Secret Wars storyline the Illuminati (made up of Iron Man, Professor X, Black Panther, Black Bolt of the Inhumans, Mr Fantastic and Doctor Strange) secretly worked to destroy Universes that were going to collide with the 616 (Also Doctor Doom was doing the same thing but that is a Secret Wars/Battleworld conversation.

But back to the MCU the main thing here is the rules of the Multiverse for the MCU have been pretty well defined thanks to Loki with the Multiverse being the result of divergent timelines. This can see timelines where the exact same person exists in a world of different decisions but also that the same person can look completely different as the case with Loki and Sylvie being both Lokis. Multiverse differences can be small from a single choice for a single person to an entire Universe (in 616 Mephisto actually rules a Hell dimension).

Ok got it? Good because there isn’t going to be a place to pause and explain it with the latest addition to the Wong Cinematic Universe dropping you right after Spider-Man: No Way Home where Doctor Strange is no longer the Sorcerer Supreme after being dust for 5 years and Wong having the mantle. Still a Sorcerer (because Wizards have hats) and living out of 177A Bleecker Street.

The film is actually one of the worst jumping on points for any new MCU fan with the amount of assumed knowledge being pretty high with the level of deep references not being limited to the Multiverse. Everything from Marvel cartoons, TV shows, memes and even random jokes from the first Doctor Strange film show up here with so your level of knowledge for all things Marvel needs to be pretty high else you are probably going to be doing a lot of googling and YouTube explainer video watching later. But if you are an avid Marvel fan the number of deep cuts and potentially spoilerific reveals that we dare not even risk talking about offers a big payout.

While there is as much CGI and special effects in this film as you would expect the thing that will stand out is that this is without a doubt easily the bloodiest MCU film to date. While people are shot, decapitated, crush, incinerated and other raccoon inflicted methods of murder across the MCU (with Ant-Man holding the lowest body count) Multiverse of Madness carries a solid amount of horror and blood thanks to first time MCU director but 3 time Tobey McGuire Spider-Man director Sam Rami.

While the list of required viewing for this film might be pretty chock full of Marvel if we did have to make a recommendation we would say that Doctor Strange shows off just a bit of Army of Darkness (aka Evil Dead 3) coming through with horror aspects. While not quite the hardcore horror of Evil Dead or the horror gore of Evil Dead 2, there are more than a few homages or reproductions of shots and scenes from other Sam Rami work that just adds to the overall flavour not see in the MCU since Tony Stark built it in a cave with a box of scraps.

So should you go see it? If you got this far you definitely are going to see it, lets be honest here but what you should be concerned with is who are you going to see it with. This is by far the least new MCU viewer friendly jumping in film to date, if you can’t name all 6 Infinity Stones then there is a pretty high chance you are going to be watching this one and bugging the person beside you with ‘who’s that?’ every few minutes. But if you have been keeping up with the Disney+ shows and films this ride promises to give you something a little new while setting up some massive things to come.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is out across Australia (and alternate Universe Australias) from May 5th

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Story and Characters
Visuals and Effects
Enjoyment Factor
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movie-review-doctor-strange-in-the-multiverse-of-madnessDoctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the now the 28th film entry into the MCU series so it shouldn't be a complete surprise by this point not every film sequel is going to be as easy for new comers, but for MCU fans that came up from the comics and every live action adaption short of the MCU along the way this film offers a lot of pay off. P.S. Of course there is something at the end of the credits it's a MCU film. But if you really need to go to the bathroom make sure you stick around for at least the mid-credits first.