With Loki , What-If and ,most recently, Spider-Man: No Way Home, it is becoming apparent that the new phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is very invested in the concept of parallel universes, or the multiverse if you will.
Introducing the idea of seeing our favourite marvel characters but not exactly as we know them is an intriguing concept and if done right could let Marvel have their cake and eat it too by mixing the old with the new. Case in point, No Way Home. That film used the multiverse to its advantage, bringing in villains from movies prior to Tom Holland‘s tenure and yet weaving it is a story that had the right mix of action, emotional beats and propelling the MCU forward. It was loved by both critics and general audiences and did a great job of capitalising on the parallel universes.
Marvel knows this too and, based on the success of No Way Home, it is rumoured that multiple reshoots were done for the Multiverse of Madness (MVOM) in order to bring in some of the more crowd-pleasing moments similar to the earlier Spider-Man flick.
So…did it pay off?
Well, in my personal opinion, it is unfortunate that the Dr Strange vehicle didn’t come out before No Way Home because people are always going to compare the two films. While the MVOM is another good addition to the MCU catalogue, I just don’t think the film is as tightly woven or as well-paced as Spider-Man’s multiverse adventure.
Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot to love about MVOM. Bringing in director Sam Raimi‘s signature style, this is Marvel’s first foray into the horror genre. Not to say that this is a scary movie, but there are jump-scares, shots framed like a typical horror scene and heck, there are even moments in the film where the main monster evokes shades of It Follows.
It is also one of the gorier films in the Marvel slate with numerous death’s onscreen, with Raimi not shy of letting the blood splatter as carnage ensues. This is one MCU movie that definitely has its directors touch all over it.
At its heart, the story of MOVM is pretty simple and straight-forward. You can understand the main villain’s motivations pretty easily and the film basically a typical MacGuffin chase. What sets it apart is the locales happen to be set across the multiverse. And I think that is one of my main gripes with this movie. For a film called Multiverse of Madness, I wish they had devoted more time to actually visiting more parallel dimensions. While there was definitely dimension hopping, it wasn’t as varied or as numerous as I had hoped. Maybe that’s just me.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr Stephen Strange has got the role of the arrogant wizard down pat. He has been doing the role for a few years now and once again does a great job here. He is joined by Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff (the Scarlett Witch), who has really grown into her role. Starting off as a bit of a “meh” role in Age of Ultron, Wanda’s story arc has developed into quite a nuanced 3-dimensional character.
The rest of the supporting cast of Benedict Wong as Sorcerer Supreme Wong, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo and Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer are all serviceable in their roles, whether it be for humour or exposition, but it was newcomer Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez who really impressed me.
I wasn’t expecting much from Gomez and I am not really familiar with America Chavez’s story in the comic, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the character. She holds her own with the bigger players onscreen and seemed quite at ease jumping between trading witty banter and moments of abject terror. I really hope we see more of her in future instalments.
There are two post-credit sequences, one at mid-credits and one right at the end. But I would suggest that you watch the second post credit scene at home on YouTube rather than waste your time waiting till the very end of the credits.
All up I give Multiverse of Madness a 7 out of 10.