The Multiverse of Madness
Strange things are afoot at the Circle K...
Welcome to Pop ‘n’ Pizza, a newsletter highlighting what’s new in pop culture and pulp fiction. This week, I’m talking about the 28th film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Sam Raimi’s DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. 🍕🥤
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Genre: Supernatural Action-Adventure
Release Date: May 6, 2022
Running Time: 126 Minutes
Studio: Marvel Studios
Behind the Scenes
Directed by Sam Raimi
Written by Michael Waldron
Cinematography by John Mathieson
Music by Danny Elfman
In Front of the Camera
Benedict Cumberbatch (SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME)
Elizabeth Olsen (WANDAVISION)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (DOCTOR STRANGE)
Benedict Wong (SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS)
Xochitl Gomez (THE BABYSITTERS CLUB)
Rachel McAdams (DOCTOR STRANGE)
What’s It About?
“Journey into the unknown with Doctor Strange, who, with the help of mystical allies both old and new, traverses the mind-bending and dangerous alternate realities of the Multiverse to confront a mysterious new adversary.” — Marvel Studios
Why You Should Check It Out
Created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, Doctor Strange made his first appearance in 1963’s STRANGE TALES #110. Fifty-three years later, the Master of the Mystic Arts made his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in Scott Derrickson’s aptly titled DOCTOR STRANGE (2016).
Since then, the Sorcerer Supreme has appeared in numerous MCU films, including AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, AVENGERS: ENDGAME, and SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME. Now, Strange faces his greatest challenge yet — himself.
Written by Michael Waldron (LOKI) and directed by Sam Raimi (SPIDER-MAN), DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS begins in media res with newcomer America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) — a teenager with the ability to travel between universes — on the run from Gargantos, a massive one-eyed tentacle beast.
America and Gargantos spill into our universe (Earth-616), where Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong) combat the creature in a rousing (and beautifully staged) sequence that also serves as a tribute to Lucio Fulci. At a pizza parlor, America explains that someone is after her powers so they can control the multiverse — the infinite parallel universes and alternate realities that make up our shared existence.
Strange and Wong deduce that the monster was summoned by witchcraft, not magic, so Strange visits Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), fresh off her own journey of self-discovery in Disney+’s WANDAVISION. Unfortunately, Strange doesn't find an ally in Scarlet Witch but an enemy — it’s Wanda who wants America’s powers so that she can be reunited with her children, Billy and Tommy (Julian Hilliard and Jett Klyne).
What follows is a dizzying, kaleidoscopic descent into the unknown, with Strange and America jumping from one universe to another in an effort to not only evade Wanda but find the key to stopping her. Along the way, they encounter variants of heroes, including Strange himself, forcing the Master of the Mystic Arts to reckon with who he is in the multiverse and who, given the temptation of the Darkhold, he could become.
With mind-blowing visuals, hugely entertaining action sequences, and some fantastic performances, DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS is the most rad, the most metal, and the most magnificently macabre entry in the MCU. Sam Raimi wields every bit of his signature style to create a movie that lives at the intersection of his superhero films (DARKMAN, SPIDER-MAN) and his work in the horror genre (EVIL DEAD, DRAG ME TO HELL).
Cinematographer John Mathieson (GLADIATOR, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, LOGAN) and production designer Charles Wood, and production special effects supervisor Chris Corbould (THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS) conjure some of the most dazzling, sublime imagery in all of the MCU. Add in Raimi’s frequent collaborators, editor Bob Murawski and composer Danny Elfman, and you’ve got a dream team behind the camera.
In front of the camera, 16-year-old Xochitl Gomez is a scene-stealer. While we don’t know a lot about America Chavez yet, it’s very clear that she will be a huge part of the MCU moving forward, and Gomez seems more than up to the task. I’m very interested to learn more about her character, whether it’s in a Disney+ series or a future theatrical release.
Elizabeth Olsen absolutely owns as Scarlet Witch. After further developing the character in WANDAVISION, Olsen is finally allowed to unleash Wanda’s full potential on the big screen in a tragic and devastating way. As for Cumberbatch, I’ve never really cared for him as Strange — his inclusion has always felt like the laziest of typecasting — but I think Raimi gets a great performance out of him here.
Man, I adored DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. As a huge Raimi fan, it’s so exciting and gratifying to see him at the helm of a $200 million blockbuster again. It’s weird, it’s wild, and it’s absolutely pulsating with Raimi’s unique sensibilities. Witches, sorcerers, demons, monsters, zombies, a goddamn green minotaur — this is precisely the kind of spooky pulp adventure POP ‘N’ PIZZA was made for.
Slices (Out of 5)
Where to Watch
DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS is now playing in theaters. For tickets and showtimes, click here.
You May Also Like…
If you dig this, you may also enjoy:
DARKMAN (Amazon Prime Video)
MARVEL’S WHAT IF?… (Disney+)
NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI (Comixology)
FRINGE (HBO Max)
MARVEL’S 616 (Disney+)
MARVEL: 75 YEARS — FROM PULP TO POP! (Disney+)
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