Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness: Sam Raimi and Comic Books Back Again
One of the directors who helped bring Marvel to the big screen returns to helm the most comic-booky and daring (in franchise terms) films yet. (Spoiler-free)
Over a decade into the dominance of Marvel Studios films as both blockbuster and superhero films, some still actively resist the idea that these movies are comic books come to life. The history of Hollywood hating on comic book stories is long and continues to this day, from folks like Martin Scorsese all the way to outrage grifters like Bill Maher. All too often we hear that the plots don’t make sense or there are too many characters to follow. Which is interesting, because one would think cinema snobs would be able to, as they so often point, follow stories whose logic was designed to be accessible to children. Warts and all Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is perhaps one of the most “comic book” comic book movies out there. It’s all magic and monsters and madness and melodrama. It also makes sense that this ambitious leap in feature film franchise storytelling falls to the hands of the man who made us believe a man could spider: Sam Raimi.
As much as this is an MCU movie, it’s also a Sam Raimi film. While the MCU does have a somewhat homogenized aesthetic, as much as Chloé Zhao’s vision shined through in Eternals, Raimi’s stylistic hand is visible in this film, especially in moments that are meant to be me more horror than sci-fi. While the themes in this film definitely get heavy at times, for the most part this movie is a lot of fun. Once things get going, they don’t really stop. The characters are pushed forward through the story by events beyond their control. For me, this kept the film feeling tight and exciting, even when the characters are trapped in cages, either real or of their own making. As much as fans thought this was the movie that would blow the doors off the MCU Multiverse, in fact it’s a fairly straightforward superhero romp that tries to balance comic book sci-fi/magic set pieces with moments of emotion and introspection.
Let’s talk about the multiversal elephant in the room: the premise of this film requires more than a casual understanding of…