There is no doubt that Marvel is unstoppable. It will always break box office records as the plots of every Avenger character builds their arc to bigger, better and brighter attributes. Take Spiderman: No Way Home for instance. Doctor Strange’s supporting but pivotal role would set up the genius multiverse narrative, only to set itself up with his own multiverse experience. The fact that the last Spiderman instalment made 1.892 billion USD proved that no one cares about a pandemic. If people want to fill their butts on the seats they will. The new Doctor Strange sequel will succeed in box office profits with ease. The question is, does the film meet up to the high expectations and will Sam Raimi have fun with delivering the multiverse exploration?
First of all, welcome back Sam Raimi. The fact that he directed the original Spiderman trilogy means he can use his Marvel experience and bring his ‘Raimi- ism’ traits into a Doctor Strange sequel. What are those traits? Let’s just state there must be a nuance of ‘Evil Dead’ themes. The ghastly corpse, monstrous make up must be applied, but on a Doctor Strange version from the multiverse. This works well as an Evil Dead fan can appreciate the nostalgia. Furthermore, the Necronomicon: Book of the Dead is so crucial that there is a similar version here better known as the Book of Vishante. It contains the most powerful white/order magic spells known, many of them being counter spells to other magic disciplines. The book itself can used to deflect magic, but it can also be used to bridge between multiverses. Lastly, the final Raimi trait will be quick paced action that holds the attention span, great visuals and using his Evil Dead star to cameo brilliantly like he does in most of his films.
The plot is an intriguing one. Doctor Stephen Strange casts a forbidden spell that opens the doorway to the multiverse, including alternate versions of himself, whose threat to humanity is too great for the combined forces of Strange, Wong, and Wanda Maximoff. Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda has expanded her arc with perfection. She arguably steals the film as she is simply the antagonist to Strange being the protagonist. This is no spoiler as it was practically hinted in the trailer. “You break the rules, you become a hero. I do it I become the enemy. That doesn’t seem fair.” When she brings out the evil from inside, her Scarlet Witch is malevolent, yet we understand her motive and empathise with her cause for striking back the way she does. However, a true Marvel fan needs to watch ‘WandaVision’ to totally understand her. To be familiar with her two sons on the show is essential.
There are other essential facets to consider in order to get the most out of this film. To appreciate the cameos, one needs to be religiously familiar with the Marvel comics and to watch ‘What if…’ on Disney Plus. If one is not familiar, then be prepared that the cameos will not garner the same impact as those two men in ‘Spiderman: No Way Home.’ The cameos in Doctor Strange receive no justice in their performance that some would argue it to be a let-down, whereas hardcore fans will cheer them on. Overall, the ride that Strange takes us on is the best part. To see several versions of himself is truly fun as it provides duplicitous characteristics like Jekyll and Hyde. It will leave the viewer to imagine who are our multi verse versions of ourselves and if we met another version of ourselves, are they more interesting than us? Obviously!
Newcomer, Xochitl Gomez who plays America Chavez does a fine job. The fact that her powers can travel through the multiverse is interesting as the antagonist would want these powers for herself. Gomez plays it vulnerable, insecure and inside her is a superhero evolving to come out. Benedict Wong is truly a great sidekick to Doctor Strange that we are truly acquainted with his character to care for. Rachel McAdams who plays Christine Palmer is used effectively as her performance in the first Doctor Strange film is carried on judiciously for the sequel. She is truly someone that Doctor Strange cares for that it gives Strange a motive to fight for her and be her knight in shining armour. Does she need it is the question? Overall, the film is an entertaining watch. Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance is worthy. He carries the film effectively and meets up to his high expectations as he is now the two-time Academy Award nominee. Sam Raimi has done a good job and to use his long-time collaboration with composer Danny Elfman is also a bonus. Let’s watch the space for how the multiverse will be used with DC characters…
Comic-Book, Action | USA, 2022 | 12A| Walt Disney Studios, Marvel Studios | Dir: Sam Raimi | Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Michael Stulhbarg, Rachel McAdams