Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness review – a multiverse of mediocre

By Marc Miller
Published: May 3, 2022 (Last updated: January 26, 2024)
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness


Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is a mediocre entry in the Marvel filmography.

This review of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness does not contain spoilers. 

Did you ever wonder about the astronomical rate increases insurance companies would charge Marvel superheroes? An educated guess would be that deductibles would be high, perhaps like having no insurance. Either way, that’s what was running through my mind during every pointless and repetitive destruction of cement buildings, cars, and public transportation vehicles. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is Sam Raimi’s dull and utterly humorless entry into the MCU family. Why? It’s simply full of boring unpleasantness. A strange blip in the Marvel filmography. This is a multiverse of Madness? More like lazy, mediocre, and clumsy misguidedness.

The sequel to the superior Doctor Strange (and, for that matter, WandaVision) starts with a version of Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) that looks like he came out of a world where he stole the uniform from the cast of Cobra Kai. He is running from a monster looking to grab his new companion, America (The Baby-Sitter’s Club Xochitl Gomez), who has a great power that a mysterious force wants to take from her. What is it? She can open up a portal anytime she wants without a sling ring, but only when she is bat-s**t frightened.

These two end up entering the current multiverse where our Doctor Strange resides. Our Steven is attending the nuptials of his former love, Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams). As he pouts on a balcony sipping a drink from the open bar, Garagntos, a squid-octopus-like creature, is chasing America down the busy city street. Strange and Wong (Benedict Wong) come to her aid. That’s when Strange, America, and Wong enter the multiverse to find what the mysterious force is and find a way to spare America’s life.

My overtly and intentionally vague synopsis aside, we won’t mention much else or any of the easter eggs to limit spoilers. Even though anyone who is a fan of Marvel or has seen the trailer can easily surmise who the villain is or the obvious voiceovers. So, let’s get to the issue. It’s chemistry. The script by Michael Waldron (Loki, Rick and Morty) does not mesh well with director Sam Raimi’s horror sensibilities. Except for a cameo from a Raimi disciple, the humor, charm, and enjoyment Waldron is known for mysteriously are absent from his script.

While inventive, the multiverse is used as a backdrop without any real purpose. To make matters worse, the worlds are so clumsily strung together that they take away from any potential emotional investment for the viewer. Here, the reconnection between Strange and Palmer has little impact. The storyline is forgettable, even the Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) angle. This should be the sole driving force of any emotional payoff and investment of a character that deserved better.

The second is there is no buddy chemistry between Cumberbatch and Gomez. The jokes fall flat, the dialogue is tedious, and there is very little tension or playfulness between the characters to make things interesting. Frankly, no one fares well here, even the lead. (Cumberbatch’s woefully overdone acting with bad makeup by the end of the film is laughable). Gomez is a nice young actress, but it becomes apparent quickly she is not ready to have such a prominent role in a Marvel production.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a middling and uninspired entry in the Marvel universe. Filled with expository dialogue in almost every scene (yes, Wong, we can see the shield is down. Thanks for letting us know), Raimi has made a Marvel horror film with dialogue for ten-year-olds that’s easily forgettable.

What multiverse did Steve Strange leave the fun in?

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