For a movie that promised a lot of potential, “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness” remains within the brackets of the MCU and its recurrent themes. It is only because of director Sam Raimi that the movie has the ability to engage the audience in an otherwise predictable storyline. Frankly speaking, after you watch the film, you will realize that it is a combination of all the teasers, trailers, and TV spots that Marvel released for the film, with the only surprise being the Illuminati. Perhaps, what makes us think that something is missing in the movie is the excitement that we have been drained of, thanks to the continuous bombardment of facts, rumors, and promotions. Keeping things under wraps could have added to the secrecy that was, in turn, an intended aspect of the film. But that didn’t happen, as we did get glimpses and hints of the multiversal characters even before the movie came out, i.e., Charles Xavier, Captain Marvel, and Captain Carter.
The movie is undoubtedly character-driven, and the new concepts introduced add further to the film’s strength, both as a standalone venture and as one that acts as another step towards the exploration of the supernatural in the MCU. Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda deserves a special mention due to her ability to shift between her positive and negative side and for being able to “conjure” the emotions, respectively. However, for the “uninitiated” masses, watching “WandaVision” is important to understand Wanda better, especially at an emotional level. But even if they don’t, “MoM” does make it clear that Wanda’s rage and pain stem from her inability to be with her children. Benedict Cumberbatch as Strange also speaks a lot with his expressions that prove his trepidations about himself as well as his pain of not being able to be with the love of his life. As for the cameos, they fail to bring any depth to the film.
Altogether, it is Raimi’s vision that makes “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness” worth watching and enjoying. The visuals, the horror elements (where he was clearly pulling his punches due to Marvel’s apparent commitment to PG-13 and no more), and the engaging action prove that Raimi hasn’t lost his touch. However, despite this, the film struggles to prove itself worthy of its content, much of which was edited out from the final cut. The first cut, according to Raimi, was approximately 2 hours 40 minutes. So a lot of things were removed, and we will never know what they were. Perhaps it is time for another Twitter campaign to release the #RaimiCut.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Long story short, “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness” takes Strange on a journey across the multiverse in his endeavor to protect America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) from Wanda Maximoff, AKA Scarlet Witch. Wanda, who is desperate to meet her children (who she crafted into existence in WandaVision) in another universe, wants to steal America’s powers to travel to that universe.
Wanda goes full-on evil in the film, attempting to achieve her objective in any way possible. This brings us to the MacGuffins in MoM: America Chavez herself, Darkhold AKA the Book of the Damned, and the Book of Vishanti.
Darkhold allows one to “Dreamwalk,” i.e., take control of himself or herself in a different universe. But the use of Darkhold also corrupts its user, which, in this case, is Wanda. To go deeper, the spells in the Darkhold belong to Chthon, the God of Chaos, an Elder God. In the comics, Chthon was trapped in Mount Wundagore (also mentioned in the film) after being banished by Atum (AKA Amon Ra or Ra), “King of the Gods” and “God of the Sun.” He is also the father of Khonshu, God of the Moon.
The Book of Vishanti also has a deep past in the comics. Known for its strong white magic spells, the book was created by Agamotto. He was also the one to create the Eye of Agamotto. Agamotto is the world’s first Sorcerer Supreme and son of Oshtur, who in turn is another Elder God just like Chthon. In fact, both Chthon and Oshtur, along with Set and Gaea, were the four original Elder Gods spawned by Demiurge, Earth’s very life force, after the planet came into being.
Characters & Cameos In ‘Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness’ Explained
“Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness” has garnered high expectations due to the characters that were supposed to show up. These included the highly-anticipated cameos and variants as well. Here are the characters that we see in the film (other than the lead characters, i.e., Strange, Wanda, Wong, America).
Defender Strange: This is the Strange variant we see in Doctor Strange’s dream at the beginning of the film as well as at the end when he is resurrected as a zombie. Remember What If? Defender Strange and America Chavez are being chased by a demonic monster. This monster is Cyttorak, who in the comics is both a god and a demon. He owns the Crimson Gem, an artifact that has the ability to transform a person into a Juggernaut. It is indeed the very power source of the famous X-Men villain Juggernaut, AKA Cain Marko.
Nicodemus West: During the marriage ceremony of Christine Palmer, Strange sits beside Nicodemus West (Michael Stuhlbarg). In the comics, Nicodemus West admired Strange’s surgical talents and abilities. He was, in fact, the one who operated on Strange after his accident and was able to save his hands (although he was unable to prevent nerve damage). Filled with guilt for depriving the world of Strange’s abilities, he too followed Strange to Kamar-Taj after the latter had completed his sorcerer training. However, Nicodemus departed from Kamar-Taj after learning some mystic healing techniques, leaving his training midway.
Gargantos AKA Shuma-Gorath: The monster with tentacles is a titan (like Thanos, who also hails from the planet Titan) who was speculated to be Shuma Gorath, a common Doctor Strange villain in the comics.
Master Mordo: This is not the Mordo we know. This one belongs to Earth-838, and is also a member of the Illuminati. At the end of “Doctor Strange (2016),” Mordo seemingly becomes a Strange antagonist after he warns Strange of the outcomes of him messing with time. In “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness,” Master Mordo has passed that stage and believes that Strange is the greatest threat to the multiverse. He is the one to bring Strange and America to the Baxter Foundation, where Strange is introduced to the Illuminati. He does this by making them drink tea that has the Sands of Nisanti mixed in it.
The Sands of Nisanti work more like a power-dampening collar from “Deadpool 2.” They prevent one from using his or her powers for a certain period of time (3 minutes, if we go by the comics). The Baxter Building, in the comics, is the headquarters of the Fantastic Four. And the Illuminati is a secret group of super-powered individuals aimed at the prevention of other-worldly threats. In the comics, the group was created by Tony Stark and had Doctor Strange, Charles Xavier, Reed Richards, Black Bolt, and Namor. In the film, Marvel has improvised by opting for fan favorites and bringing in Charles Xavier (Sir Patrick Stewart), Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell), and Reed Richards (John Krasinski), along with Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) as Captain Marvel and Blackagar Boltagon aka Black Bolt (Anson Mount).
However, all these introductions turn futile as Marvel gets them all killed by Wanda. This seemed unnecessary as it would clearly allow Marvel to spread its branches to two very popular franchises on par with the Avengers, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four. However, keeping in mind that this would also take a toll on Strange’s narrative in the film, it probably had to be done. Nevertheless, their mere appearance is proof that they exist in the multiverse of the MCU. So, that’s something to look forward to, especially since we already know that both are in the pipeline.
Supreme Strange: After Strange and America arrive on Earth-838, they reach the Sanctum Sanctorum, which has the statue of Strange Supreme in front of it. While the statue was built to honor him for his sacrifice while facing Thanos, the truth is that he was executed by the Illuminati for misusing the Darkhold (of that universe). Yes, each universe has a Darkhold. So this means that there are multiple versions of the Book of Visanti too, right?
Sinister Strange: Sinister Strange is the one we see towards the end of “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness,” the one with the third eye. From the looks of it, his extensive use of the Darkhold is what may have led to this state. Perhaps this is the Strange we came across in What If, who sucked the powers of monsters for millennia to make himself capable of turning back time and changing an Absolute Point (the death of Christine).
Wanda of Earth-838: Wanda of Earth 838 is an iteration of the Wanda we saw in WandaVision; the loving and caring Wanda Maximoff for whom her children are the world. She is used by the Scarlet Witch to dreamwalk and kill the Illuminati. In the end, however, she is the one who reassures the Scarlet Witch that her children are safe and will be loved.
Other than the above-mentioned characters, we also get Billy and Tommy Maximoff, children of Wanda and last seen in “WandaVision.” We don’t see them use their powers, but they are potential Young Avengers. Bruce Campbell returns from the Raimi-verse to bring the old smile back on our faces. This time, he is Pizza Poppa of Earth-838 and is punished by Strange, who throws him into a loop of punching himself for probably three weeks (according to Strange). He gets caught in the loop after Strange and America arrive on Earth-838 and comes out of the loop at the end of “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness.” This suggests that all the significant events in the film took place over the course of 21 days or so, isn’t it? Last but not least, we have Rintrah, the MCU’s first minotaur, and yet another Strange accomplice from the comics.
‘Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness’ Ending Explained – What Happened To Wanda? Who is the Purple Lady?
At the end of the film, as MCU’s Doctor Strange comes out of his Sanctum Sanctorum, a third eye appears on his forehead, just like that of Sinister Strange. This proves that the Darkhold has gained its hold on him to a considerable extent. We do not know the repercussions of this, but we do know that Wanda isn’t dead. And with her being the Scarlet Witch, it won’t be tough to gain control of Strange anymore. Or so it seems.
The mid-credits scene of “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness” shows Charlize Theron as Clea. In the comics, Clea is Strange’s love interest, whom he eventually marries. She also becomes a Sorcerer Supreme after Strange is killed by Kaecelius (who, in the MCU, has been taken captive by Dormammu). Clea has come to Strange to ask for his help to handle an “incursion” problem. An incursion occurs when two parallel universes collide, eventually leading to the destruction of both. When Clea opens a portal, we get a clear view of the Dark Dimension. This, too, has significance.
Clea’s mother is Umar, who is the sister of Strange’s “old friend” Dormammu, who rules over the Dark Dimension. If Clea shares a good relationship with his uncle, Dormammu, her meeting with Strange has the potential to bring him face-to-face with Dormammu after so many years. Alternately, it was an incursion that led to “Secret Wars,” which is the dominant plot possibility for MCU Avengers 5. So, this mid-credit scene could be the beginning of an Avengers 5 event.