It Might Be Madness, But This Film Is… Groovy

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

Clearly, we’ve long since reached the point where MCU films and shows should come with a list of required watching. But this is most apparent in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022). Obviously, watching the first Doctor Strange (2016) is strongly encouraged. Films like No Way Home (2021), as well as Infinity War (2018) and Endgame (2019) are strongly encouraged, as well as the show What If? (2021). And don’t even get me started on the list of movies and shows that will prep non-comic book readers for some of the cameos. But if you’re only going to watch one movie or show to prepare yourself for this movie, it has got to be WandaVision (2021). If you haven’t yet seen the show, go binge it on Disney+ right away. Multiverse of Madness does not work as a standalone as you will most likely have a hard time understanding Wanda’s (Elizabeth Olsen) motivation and character development if you have not seen her tv show.

Since a lot of the plot elements, exposition, and character development took place in other movies/shows, Multiverse of Madness was able to hit the ground running. Staring in medias res, not a second was wasted. There was action from start to finish because we did not need that extra time to get to know the characters and the situations. And despite the fact that the story was all action, all the time, it was not one note or overwhelming. There was always something happening, but the pacing was varied enough from scene to scene that the audience didn’t lose their interest.

I also noticed a major improvement in the story compared to the previous Doctor Strange film as there was much less bathos in this sequel. Around the time Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) made his on screen debut, MCU movies were saturated in bathos. It took away from important moments and injected far too much comedy into the franchise than in actually needed. Yes, there are moments of bathos in Multiverse of Madness, but they are not nearly as distracting and do not take away from some of the more important moments in the story. This is one case where the sequel is certainly better than the original.

Stylistically, this is also a much stronger film and we have director Sam Raimi to thank for that. I didn’t even realize he was the director going into the film, but it didn’t take me long to notice his unique style. I knew he had to be the director before I even saw his name in the credits. For those of you who remember the earlier eras of comic book inspired films, Raimi directed the original Spider-Man trilogy. But for those of you who are horror fans like me, you’ll know him as the creative genius behind the Evil Dead franchise. So not only does Raimi have the prior experience to be able to tackle a Marvel movie, he is more than qualified to handle the elements of horror in this film.

Yup, you read that right. Horror. There were demons, ghosts, zombies, witches and all manner of spookiness. Also, this is probably the first MCU film to feature multiple jump scares. If you edited this movie and left only the scenes featuring Wanda, this would undoubtedly be a pure horror film. Not only that, but the film is crawling with Evil Dead references (another required watch, in my opinion). And that’s why the PG-13 rating was so disappointing. As my friends and I chatted about the film on the way home, we fantasized about what could have been if Disney and Marvel has loosened the reigns on Raimi and allowed this film to push for an R rating. In fact, I’m going to throw this out into the universe right now: I would love to see an R rated director’s cut for Multiverse of Madness.

But you know what I loved most of all about this film? It was the best cameo, the best Evil Dead reference, the best Raimi regular. That’s right. Bruce Campbell. The man is a legend and it brought me so much joy to see him in the MCU. The cherry on top is that one of his scenes is officially my new favourite MCU end credit scenes.

I was clearly the target audience for this film. A comic book inspired movie with just enough horror to make me wonder if my husband will have nightmares, and a healthy amount of much appreciated cameos. I need, NEED, Raimi to direct more MCU films. Please Disney! Make it happen!

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