Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness (DSMOM) is a superhero-horror film, 28th in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and the sequel to Doctor Strange (2016). Written by Michael Waldron and directed by Sam Raimi (Spider-Man trilogy, Don’t Breathe), the movie stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), newcomer Xochitl Gomez (America Chavez), Benedict Wong (Sorcerer Supreme Wong) and many more. Released theatrically on May 6th, 2022 and digitally on July 22, 2022, DSMOM became the second highest-grossing movie of the year behind Top Gun: Maverick. While the film boasts visually-captivating CG scenes and decent acting, it didn’t live up to its title, especially the multiverse part as no more than 3 universes were explored throughout. If I may be so bold, another in this writer’s opinion deserves the title; ‘Multiverse of Madness’, and that movie is Everything Everywhere All At Once but that’s a story for another time. Currently, let’s revisit some of the dumbest things movie watchers spotted in Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness.
PS. Spoiler warning for any who haven’t seen the movie (still?) Read a spoiler-free review of DSMOM here instead.
What do you get when you combine years of grief, depression, loss, loneliness, trauma and the influence of a magic book of pure evil? A psycho greedy witch who would do literally anything to relive a crazed fantasy! DSMOM followed the events of WandaVision and completely undid any progress the Scarlet Witch made in coping with her grief by the finale of that series. Wanda, fed up with her own hexes, sought to travel to another universe to be with her twin boys who exist there while murdering the doppelganger version of herself (the children’s original mother.) After discovering America Chavez and her power of travelling the multiverse (which was the key to the Mad Witch’s plan), Wanda decided that the best way to make a good first impression wasn’t tea or dinner, but by sending demons to kidnap the girl. We’d never know why Demon Witch has a thing for tentacle monsters but the bigger question is; how did Wanda come to learn about America, who was universes away in the first place? Much later, during the final act of this underwhelming movie, Kidnapper Witch finally accepted that ‘her children’ don’t want her back at all, and who can blame them? Heartbroken by rejection, she destroyed Mount Wundagore (a sinister place from which the Darkhold was transcribed) of her universe and blipped the Darkhold from every other universe. That’s all good and fine as far as half-convincing redemption arcs go but what about the Mount Wundagores of other universes which weren’t destroyed? Surely, loonies in those universes might learn about their Mount Wundagore and attempt to transcribe the Darkhold again, putting the multiverse in jeopardy once more.
America Chavez is a supernatural/multiversal being which means we only get one of her in the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse, meaning the joke’s on us that don’t like her. The first major issue with the character is that she is given a sketchy, uninteresting backstory and an even less likable personality. The runtime meant to develop the character was wasted showing her constantly running away from or towards something and making faces. Before becoming the not-sorcerer supreme’s scaredy sidekick, she couldn’t control her powers and was best at travelling to other universes by accident. After being a complete liability for the entire movie, America eventually and/or conveniently mastered her abilities during the third act of DSMOM after a cliché ‘believe in yourself’ pep talk from zombie Strange. After defeating Remorseful Witch (kinda), America enrolled as a student of magic, practising how to open portals at Kamar Taj which was under reconstruction after the battle with Scarlet Witch. Uhm, questions. Is America magic now or were her powers always based on the mystic arts? Why didn’t the sorcerer masters wait until after Kamar Taj was rebuilt before bringing their students back there for portal training? Possibly, a sanctum or two would have sufficed as the new sorcery HQ pending when Kamar Taj was completely rebuilt. Also, why didn’t America immediately go looking for her parents after she could use her powers? Surely, learning how to open sling-ring portals, a very useless skill for someone who could travel anywhere in the multiverse already, shouldn’t take priority over seeing missing family again. You always put family first. Sounds corny like quoting Dom Torreto, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
“All You Strange’s, You’re the Same”
Turns out the has-been sorcerer supreme isn’t as bright as he thinks he is, even in other universes too. During the opening scenes of DSMOM, ponytail (later zombie) Defenders Doctor Strange and America were pursued by demon mummy on their way to the Book of Vishanti. There’s no reason why he couldn’t portal them closer to where the book was and grab it instead of doing all that unnecessary cardio. I mean, he’d still have half his face and be alive if he had done that. Dumb! Back to our own Earth-616 Doctor Strange. After gullibly disclosing where America was to Wanda and knowing correctly that Ment Witch was coming for her, why didn’t he portal America to a safer place, anywhere but Kamar Taj, before it was too late? Sending America elsewhere would’ve saved a lot of sorcerers from being sacrificed for a strange girl (pun intended) they met just seconds ago. Dumb! Next is Earth-838 Doctor Strange, aka. Illuminati Strange who’s supposed to be that earth’s mightiest hero. They too had a pest, sorry, Thanos problem so Illuminati Strange decided that rather than search for and use the book of pure good (Vishanti), he’d use the book of pure evil (Darkhold) instead because you fight evil with more evil? Dumb! Then there’s three-eyed Doctor Strange of earth incursion who’s almost as disappointing as the fight scene of music notes. Did we pay to see an opera or a movie? One Strange had the Darkhold and whatever foul magic it contained. His opposite number had advanced sorcery where he could summon mystical creatures or parts of them. Expecting a badass fight scene between the two right? Wrong! Let’s have them both compose a duet, a magical orchestra instead. SMH. Also, in exchange for the Darkhold, Doctor simp wanted Earth-838 Christine for himself, trapped in an incursed universe where reality was collapsing in on itself. Was that supposed to be romantic? She wouldn’t have survived for long and even if she had, what made nuts Strange think that an abducted Christine from another universe would make him any happier? Dumb! But what is the lesson here folks? 3 out of 4 Stranges died and the last one survived because it was his movie.
Multiverse Without Consequences
I concur with many who prefer the first Doctor Strange (2016) movie, no question. The sequel loses to its predecessor in everything but box office earnings. In the closing minutes of the better first, Mordo asserted that there will always be consequences for breaking the rules, a price to pay, a reckoning. So far, the exact opposite of what he meant is what we see most of the time in the MCU. After the events of Westview, Wanda should’ve been queried for her crimes especially when she mentally enslaved people and made them live out a script. Grief or “putting things right in the end” don’t absolve her of her transgressions. Maybe if she was serving out a sentence somewhere, possibly in one of the numerous dimensions outside time and space, she wouldn’t have plotted to steal powers from a teen so she could steal another’s children (Scarlet Thief) and commit matricide. Just saying. Even Doctor Strange is free to break the rules as he pleases (recall No Way Home?) without losing sleep over consequences or a reckoning that might never come. Where is the TVA? Or is endangering the multiverse constantly ‘meant to always happen?’
The absence of consequences led to a major missed opportunity to fully introduce a new character fans actually care to see (sorry America) in the MCU. That character is The Living Tribunal, an entity that maintains balance in the multiverse and serves as a judge of realities. He deserved better than a namedrop and some inexplicable cameo and would’ve been the perfect Bringer of Reckoning upon egotistic sorcerers and insane witches. Imagine Arishem but far better.
Multiverse Without Vision?
Wanda kept going on and on about how she wanted so badly to be with her children. She wouldn’t shut up about it. Of course, it was mostly the Darkhold talking but something doesn’t quite add up. Examining Wanda’s history, she has lost the most people closest to her than any other Avenger besides Thor. Her parents, her twin brother and a sexy bot who was the love of her life. So why the obsession with only her twin boys with whom she spent the least time and who weren’t even real in this universe to begin with? A mother’s love is strong but surely, that’s not all the love there is. Recall that it was the pain and trauma of losing Vision (for the most part) and Quicksilver that sent Wanda spiralling down the rabbit hole of self-deception and madness to begin with. Wanda should want to see an alive Vis again, not just to reference him twice in the movie. If only she’d been nice to America from the start, she could’ve found a universe where Vision existed, probably with her children too as a bonus.
However, it is unclear if Vision existed in Earth-838 where Wanda planned to go. If he did, where was he and is he the father of the twins? If not, why not and who is the father of the twins? So many questions. Far less answers.
Cue Amazing Grace. R.I.P to the superhero team that was so bad, they made The Indomitables look like first-class heroes. I’ve seen tweets likening them to the Suicide Squad but that is a great disservice to Waller’s team. We could go on and on about the problems of the Illuminati. Heck, a standalone article could be written on why they suck so much! However, this paragraph will focus on the failures of one in particular and that’s Mordo. Although all the members of the Illuminati acted lamely, I feel we don’t discredit Mordo enough. And seeing as he’s the only surviving member of the original team, it is only fitting that we drag him a bit for ‘dead men don’t tell tales.’
As the Sorcerer Supreme and guardian of the Darkhold in his universe, Mordo understood the threat the “Little Witch” posed as a harbinger of chaos but unlike Wong, he joined his teammates in underestimating her which made no sense. It’s understandable why he helped detain Earth-616 Doctor Strange and America, but why didn’t he seek out Wanda of his own universe to warn her at least?
Later, when dreamwalking Wanda did arrive, a scared Mordo stayed behind to watch Strange and let his teammates battle her. While the remainder of the Illuminati were being slaughtered, cowardly Mordo chose to allow himself to be baited by Strange rather than assist in fighting Wanda or even protect America. Then, he passed some BS judgement and attacked Strange but somehow, Mordo, who is meant to be one of the best sorcerers in his universe gets clapped by a cuffed man and is left in a hole he couldn’t seem to climb out from or portal out of.
We don’t know what later became of Mordo and the Illuminati (whatever was left of it) and we don’t want to. The only good that came from the Illuminati is that it further attests that the X-Men and Fantastic 4 are officially part of the MCU, well the MCM (Marvel Cinematic Multiverse) for now. Hopefully, Marvel Studios doesn’t botch upcoming projects starring these beloved comic book superhero teams on the big screen.
More Questions to Keep You Up
- What is the new Eye of Agomoto Strange wears? It was previously the time stone but what is it at the moment and what does it do?
- America, during the brunch with Strange and Wong, had never heard of Spider-Man until then. She’d visited 71 universes before this one so what in the name of sticky webs happened to the Spider-Men of those universes?
- Did Christine (the smartest woman on Earth-838) really try to break America out of a glass prison she built using a fire extinguisher?
- Why does only one copy of the Book of Vishanti exist while it’s opposite the Darkhold used to exist in all universes? Couldn’t copies be made?
- Did the Illuminati have to kill their Strange? Wasn’t there any other way they could help him? They had the Book of Vishanti so nothing in that book could have helped with the influence the Darkhold had over Strange? Some antithesis that is.
- How does Scarlet Witch think that Strange giving up the time stone to Thanos and her abducting America can be judged the same way?
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