‘Doctor Strange’ Brings Lots of Flash but Little Substance

Ulises Duenas


When superhero fatigue starts to hit, you need something out of the ordinary to shake you up. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has the ingredients to jolt someone awake from their coma, but it doesn’t quite get there in its execution. 


Following the concepts in Spider-Man: No Way Home, this movie uses the multiverse as a central plot device and how tampering with it brings chaos. Things come to a head and Doctor Strange enters a conflict with Scarlet Witch, a.k.a. Wanda Maximoff, who is now a powerful villain in the Marvel storyline. Unfortunately, as interesting as the concepts are, their execution of them isn’t clean and lacks the great character work that No Way Home had.


One new character, America Chavez, is central to the plot because she can open paths to the multiverse. The problem is that amidst all the chaos of the movie, her character doesn’t get a chance to develop, and she ends up feeling like a human MacGuffin. Wanda also lacks character, which is a shame because the whole point of the show Wandavision was to develop her as a sympathetic character as we saw her transition into being a villain. Her motivation is understandable, and the audience is familiar with her but she doesn’t click as well as she should. 



Even without strong characters, the film is still a visual feast for the eyes. Whenever Doctor Strange is involved in a Marvel plot, you can count on spectacular set-pieces and mind-bending visual design. This movie definitely doesn't fail in that regard, as it’s full of impressive fight scenes and impossible geometry that draw the eye like nothing else. Even some of the villain designs look more interesting than usual, which is likely due to Sam Raimi’s vision as director. 


When Disney began promoting the film, there were some who thought it would have a horror edge to it and that idea was only emboldened when Raimi was announced as the director. While Raimi’s unique touch is visible in various parts of the film, I wouldn’t say it goes far enough to truly separate it from all the Marvel movies.



At this point in the Marvel cycle, there should be more chances being taken, not just with the plot but with the whole tone and dialogue of the movies. Multiverses, alternate realities, and changing timelines are high-concept ideas that artificially raise the stakes of the plot, but it still feels too similar to what came before. 


Viewers who have been hardcore Marvel fans will most likely enjoy this especially because of what future projects are teased in this movie, but those who feel fatigued or jaded might come away feeling indifferent. It’s got plenty of eye candy, but the character work that Marvel is known for falls short.


Author Bio:

Ulises Duenas is a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine.


For Highbrow Magazine


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