“You break the rules and become a hero. I do it and I become the enemy. That doesn’t seem fair.”Wanda Maximoff
Like Tony Stark, Stephen Strange seems to be caught in a repeating loop of identical character development — recognising his hubris and learning humility — only to forget it all by the next outing. In Multiverse of Madness this lesson comes from discovering the destruction his counterparts have inadvertently unleashed on multiple realities. The MCU has demonstrated both its ability to produce all manner genre films and the limitations of doing so within a shared universe; this is perhaps most true of Multiverse of Madness, which allows Sam Raimi to indulge his penchant for horror but is unable fully to commit to this darker tone. At its best, a fun, fan-service middle act sequence becomes Final Destination for alternate reality superheroes. At its worst, it is a clash of tonally indistinct and wildly fluctuating horror elements that seem unable to identify their target audience. Wanda is misused, shoehorned into the role of weakly-motivated single-minded villain, with much character development (or deconstruction) occurring off-screen after the events of the WandaVision miniseries, primarily for a sleight of hand reveal. Doctor Strange‘s primary strength was its kaleidoscopic mirror universe visual effects that felt genuinely novel. Whilst Multiverse of Madness manages this to a lesser extent with its universe-hopping, its creativity never reaches the exuberant freedom of the recently released Everything Everywhere All At Once. There is a sufficiently enjoyable adventure underneath it all, but it’s disappointing from the director behind the still-excellent human stories of Spider-man 2.
MCU Phase 4: Black Widow | Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings | Eternals | Spider-man: No Way Home | Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness | Thor: Love and Thunder | Black Panther: Wakanda Forever