Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
May 4, 2022 2:08 AM - Subscribe

Dr. Stephen Strange casts a forbidden spell that opens the doorway to the multiverse, including alternate versions of himself, whose threat to humanity is too great for the combined forces of Strange, Wong, and Wanda Maximoff.
posted by cendawanita (136 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
One thing I'll note for now: HA! HA! vindicated in my read of the Wandavision ending. Now i can excise all the reams of defenses of her character as having a narratively rewarded and ethical arc that i read to the memory hole.
posted by cendawanita at 2:10 AM on May 4 [7 favorites]


Everything Everywhere All At Once however delivered more on the promise of multiversal insanity imo but at least Rachel McAdams legitimately had more to do in this installment. I definitely enjoyed all the Raimi-isms though I think I have to give Jon Watts the win in finessing fanservice cameos and eliciting emotional highs from them. That said i cracked up that they 'fixed' the third act issue by making the entire movie a series of third act setpiece battles.
posted by cendawanita at 2:14 AM on May 4 [6 favorites]


A very Sam Raimi movie and pretty fun. Glad that Japan got it's opening the same time as every where else so I didn't have to dodge spoilers - I got the main Spider-Man reveal spoiled slightly by listening to Knowledge Fight of all things.
posted by LostInUbe at 7:35 AM on May 4 [4 favorites]


Wouldn't it've been cool if they'd traded cameos.
posted by sammyo at 10:34 AM on May 4


So uh, everybody that was upset about Wanda not facing any real consequences for her actions in Wandavision… there ya go.
posted by wabbittwax at 3:33 PM on May 5 [5 favorites]


That was amazingly bloodless. The visuals were cool, but I felt practically nothing for the characters. Please, no more Sam Raimi directing MCU movies, he tends to do a poor job with giving any emotional weight to the story.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:43 PM on May 5 [5 favorites]


Please, no more Sam Raimi directing MCU movies, he tends to do a poor job with giving any emotional weight to the story.

...Huh? This is the first of the modern MCU movies he's directed. And it's quite likely that there's never an MCU to begin with without his early-aughts Spider-Man trilogy. If you liked No Way Home? Meaningfully dependent on leveraging the audience's fondness for those movies.

It sounds like this movie is a lot of "bitches be crazy," though, which makes me...not want to see it.
posted by praemunire at 4:02 PM on May 5 [3 favorites]


In fairness, there are multiple female characters in it who behave very rationally. But yeah, there’s this one that might be guilty of some light mass murder.
posted by wabbittwax at 4:18 PM on May 5 [8 favorites]


...Huh? This is the first of the modern MCU movies he's directed.

Hopefully it stays that way. The visuals were great, no question, but developing characters really isn't a strength of his.

And what the hell with Wanda? WV ended with her being remorseful and wanting to control her powers and look for her kids. This movie has her willing to kill a kid, sacrifice friends and do a little mass murder to get her kids back. Which I get, with all she's been through, but the movie suffered from not showing the jump from remorseful Wanda to vengeful Wanda. They really needed to spend some time showing us (or at least me) that jump, instead of doing another very pretty CGI scene.

It feels like Daenerys "snapping" at the end of Game of Thrones, aka the plot needed her to go a crazy, so they did the bare minimum to show that transformation.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:43 PM on May 5 [16 favorites]


I'm not convinced the bad emotional arcs in this are on Sam Raimi. That feels like a script and MCU problem. I don't think the script bothered doing the work to make the emotional arcs satisfying because both Wanda's and Stephen's arcs are carried through from WandaVision, Doctor Strange, and Avengers. What is here is just exposition dumping. Pretty typical of MCU storytelling, imo, and one of my biggest beefs with it ever since Endgame.

The only parts I enjoyed of this are when the Raimi influence is really being felt, mostly at the end, but it shines through in a few other places.

MCU was always going to do Wanda dirty. I had hope for the first few episodes of WandaVision, but MCU just can't help making things less nuanced than they need to be if you want to do right by a character like Wanda. They clearly don't trust their audiences and they definitely aren't brave enough to make something that leaves audiences feeling uncomfortable or sad. Not that the comics treated Wanda any better.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 5:10 PM on May 5 [6 favorites]


So, hypothetically, if one was mostly interested in America Chavez curb stopping their way through dimensions and being fucking awesome and then partially interested fun multiverse shenanigans, should that person see this movie or just write the fanfic version in their head?
posted by dinty_moore at 6:21 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


I like her and the actress quite a bit in this, but i would consider her role in this movie as more macguffin than anything though related to the plot trajectory issue with Wanda (from a technical perspective not narrative), Stephen was sympathetic to her almost immediately and she basically served the function of Peter in the MCU when it comes to Tony Stark, as in the almost automatic assumption that he's a stand-in father figure. I don't know if this has any standing in the comics but when Hawkeye did this at least I can point to that show riffing off a comics relationship.

Re: Wanda and repentance and WV - I don't need to rehash the discourse on my part but the end of that show did not indicate that to me in a significant way that as an audience I'm meant to consider she's learned anything the way a straight white hat character would. I thought it was evident her grieving process wasn't fully worked out and she came out of the experience with some misguided conclusions. It tracks, for me, that Wanda, the one who ran away from the angry townspeople and locked Agatha in that spell, would be this Wanda. All things considered, I appreciated the resolution for this wasn't because she was bad because she was mind controlled and she was technically (emotionally) defeated by herself.

Oh, is this movie multiversally fun? For about 5 minutes combined. The rest of it HAD the aesthetics but idk, emotionally, i wasn't feeling that aspect. There's a particular version of a Fantastic Four character that had no reason to be played by the actor, which spoke to me of my issues with how I found its fanservice. The more straightforward Raimi elements were more enjoyable.
posted by cendawanita at 7:19 PM on May 5 [6 favorites]


But really, for all I said America is a macguffin, Strange's anchoring the plot doesn't mean he really had much to do with the story either. This is basically a Wandavision sequel but told from the hapless bystander perspective. He only had enough character traits and plot armour to even explain why he's still standing at the end of it. Basically this movie is his movie for that reason but he was mirroring Wanda's emotional arc (grieving for lost opportunities) but they're not connected in any significant way (the kind where the inevitable, "we're not that different you and I," dialogue would have inevitably resulted). To the point that his primary antagonists are really himself, just like Wanda. That's how they threaded the needle of having two Avengers fight who had no emotional resonance with each other (which at least Civil War had). In this way the multiverse is a just a therapy session, but with actual deaths.
posted by cendawanita at 7:33 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


In this way the multiverse is a just a therapy session, but with actual deaths.

Is there any way all the previously murdered sorcerers are alive at the end.

“should that person see this movie or just write the fanfic version in their head?”

Go ahead and write the fanfic.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:44 PM on May 5


I had a lot of fun with this. I agree that the emotional arcs were relatively light; it feels like theyre still not sure what makes Dr Strange interesting, and "will I murder a young girl to save the universe" didn't feel that compelling.

That said, I thought the imagery and plotting was fun, and the action inventive. I also completely buy Wanda as she is in this film. Its clear she didnt get here all at once; Wanda at the end of Wandavision wouldnt do this, but Wanda who has spent months brooding and studying an evil book? Absolutely.

And when you buy in to evil Wanda, shes a lot of fun to watch. Her taking down the illuminati was really great (and the film had a lot of fun with some of the more famously pompous Marvel characters). I also enjoyed that once again the solution wasnt more power to defeat Wanda, it was to make her truly confront the consequences of her own actions.

So yeah, not a ten out of ten film, but I think theres a lot there to enjoy
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:36 PM on May 5 [16 favorites]


I saw this on the big screen and I think it really deserves it, there's so much happening and the audience were literally gasping at times. I noticed on the credits there were a ton of plasterers and carpenters so I'm wondering now how much of the sets were actually built instead of CGI.

I absolutely loved it. Glad I've watched the Disney Plus shows though as without WandaVision and What If a lot of it wouldn't have made any sense. It was a whole lot of fun, fantastic visuals, and some great plot points like Zombie Strange.

Not sure how it will do. It needs a lot of knowledge which might put off casual watchers, and for the Jeff Albertsons it commits the twin cardinal sins of Not Sticking To The Comics, and Being Fun. Hopefully there are enough MCU fans to pull it through as I'd like to see more wild batshit inventiveness on screen.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:50 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


I'd hope that the audience would be capable of what's expected of the characters when they jump from one reality to another - follow the clues to work it out. For example, I don't think one would need to know anything about the members of the Illuminati (or, indeed, their 616 analogues), to immediately get who they are. It seemed to be a fairly straightforward film to follow in that way - let go and go with it and it flows very naturally.

I find I've too much I want to type to no good end, but random thoughts:

I was struck by the way that the trope of the-person-we-think-is-an-ally-turns-out-to-be-the-antagonist works differently when we already know the person very well. She's right, it's not fair.

Previously, movies of this size have seemed like events, but this one didn't. That's not a criticism, really, it doesn't have to be an event like that - it was still a hugely entertaining and kinetic use of a couple of hours - and not being one makes it stronger for me. Like all the MCU stuff, it's all part of an enormous narrative web, providing closure for some meta-narratives (the tragedy of Wanda Maximoff) and laying the groundwork for others (surely America Chavez will play a huge role in a meta-narrative across a number of realities, which the Kang story is shaping up to be, and Incursion is likely to be a word on everyone's lips in the coming years).

It's all one big thing. That may not be to everyone's taste, but I don't think it's really been done before to this scale, and I find that quite exciting. (It was done in the comics, yes, but the comics are... not to be insulting, but... a huge mess. I hope this will be more coherent.) Rather than direct sequels, what would be more interesting to me would be to combine the interesting characters from different places in something else. I do have a set of imaginary wish-lists, but then I don't get to make this stuff up, probably with good reason.

I'd like to see more of Anson Mount as that Black Bolt (well, not that Black Bolt, his head imploded, but you know what I mean), and would be curious to see what an appropriately retooled Inhumans would look like. I'm looking forward to more John Krasinski as Reed Richards - he's the first version who seems to catch the character, even if only for a couple of minutes. The MCU's strength has always been to capture the essence of characters, even when what is on the screen strayed from the comics.

I realise that at some level this is a hyper-cosmic, dimension-spanning epic about a guy getting over his ex-girlfriend, but I'm fine with that. It makes a change from daddy issues.

The level of skill involved in this - effectively perfect at almost every technical level - is astounding. I suppose that shouldn't be surprising - once you can do anything, it's perfectly simple to do anything else - but it is.
posted by Grangousier at 4:05 AM on May 6 [9 favorites]


I'd like to see more of Anson Mount as that Black Bolt

Uhm... No, you don’t.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 4:48 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Yes, I do.
posted by Grangousier at 5:01 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Or rather, my point was that the actor is fine, the character is interesting but the TV series was less than optimal. What I'm quite enjoying with the MCU at the moment is the strategy of rejigging characters and performances that were previously disappointing into something more interesting - for example, the development of Christine Palmer in this film, or the Andrew Garfield Spiderman in Far From Home - rather than just pretending they didn't exist.
posted by Grangousier at 5:07 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


(No Way Home, not Far From Home. Too many homes, like a self-indulgent billionaire.)
posted by Grangousier at 5:31 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]


I have to agree there. I mean, it's hard to translate my thoughts into international English but legit when the camera panned to him, i was basically going (especially knowing his star trek show is premiering), "wow what blessed good fortune he's having now, how very agarf of him".
posted by cendawanita at 5:55 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


I strongly suspected that we would have the Illuminati in this movie but while I knew Black Bolt was a member, Tony Stark was also a member, and I wasn’t holding out hope for a RDJ cameo. The presence of Charles Xavier, Monica Rambeau, and Peggy Carter had already been hinted by the ads, but Mount and Krasinski were totally unexpected for me. I reckoned the dismal execution of The Inhumans meant it would have been quietly ignored.

I also watched the premier of Strange New Worlds yesterday, a couple of hours before heading to the movie.

There was a lot more Anson Mount in my life yesterday than most days.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:55 AM on May 6


She basically served the function of Peter in the MCU when it comes to Tony Stark, as in the almost automatic assumption that he's a stand-in father figure. I don't know if this has any standing in the comics but when Hawkeye did this at least I can point to that show riffing off a comics relationship.

Oh. Oh no.

For the comics record - as far as I know, I don't think that Dr. Strange and America Chavez have ever had a sustained interaction in the comics, and she doesn't really have any mentor figures. She came from either a paradise alter-dimension or evil geneticists that killed her parents and messed with her memories, was on her own or with other teenaged superheroes for a while, and eventually went to college. Her general personality is not that dissimilar to Rosa Diaz, and it's really hard to imagine paternal figure Dr. Strange making much sense (really, the only paternal figure I can imagine working out is 'paternal figure old Steve Rogers'). Like, I didn't expect them to make it explicit that she's a lesbian with two moms, but this doesn't sound great.

From the sounds of it, she was originally going to show up in No Way Home, which would probably make sense for her comics character.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:58 AM on May 6


Like, I didn't expect them to make it explicit that she's a lesbian with two moms, but this doesn't sound great.

I guess you haven't seen it, but they make the latter explicit (she calls them her moms, and they show affection and kiss). I imagine it'll get cut for other audiences (and it is cuttable), but it isn't a blink and you'll miss it moment. Her sexuality isn't defined, and doesn't really come up. She's a pretty fun character to be honest, and while her function is mostly as a mcguffin, she does have a very small arc for the conclusion of the film.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 9:07 AM on May 6 [4 favorites]


Her sexuality isn't defined, and doesn't really come up.

She had a pretty prominent Pride pin and AMOR ES AMOR on her jacket to hint at it, but I agree it doesn't come up otherwise.

And yeah, definitely not the arriving-fully-badass-already intro she got in the comics -- this America gets a handle on her powers over the course of the movie. Thankfully not the fawning MCU Peter Parker to Tony Stark relationship either, though -- she gets to be banter-y and is happy to help Wong roast Strange when the opportunity arises. I don't think they've closed off getting closer to the comic books badass-ness but she's definitely not starting there.
posted by jdherg at 9:19 AM on May 6 [5 favorites]


Okay, good to know that there was some attempt (haven't seen it, would only be interested in seeing it for America Chavez, sounds like I'd be better off skipping this and waiting for the next time she shows up - I'm kind of weirded out by the MCU inserting confidence/competence arcs where there were none in the comics).
posted by dinty_moore at 9:28 AM on May 6


And to be fair, America Chavez in the comics was eventually retconned to have a traumatic backstory involving child abuse and a sibling death, which was COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY and thankfully they are ignoring in the MCU.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 9:43 AM on May 6 [5 favorites]


I'll say this: she's definitely got a capability/learning arc where Strange is her mentor in learning how to focus her raw power (but honestly not a lot: it's really not his movie in that he's not the one driving the plot or counterplot, which is an interesting exercise to have a name movie/solo outing where the title character consistently knows the least, not the usual superhero tack), but she's the one mentoring him about the multiverse. She's not a Rosa Diaz, but plucky is what I would use to describe her. If they're lining up the Young Avengers, her vibe definitely matches Yelena, Kate, and the other upcoming ones. I quite like her MCU debut and wouldn't mind seeing her again.

Unrelated, I'm really glad Wong stayed the Sorcerer Supreme and it wasn't just a NWH gag with the title restored to Stephen.

But this movie though really just firms up my impression that Marvel Studios only have enough attention span for Dr Strange as a canon spackle kind of character or maybe because he's been such a plot linchpin elsewhere maybe it's just inevitable his solo stuff is the feelings installment. But even so! That monologue about his apparently dead sister? Delivered well but that sort of character detail shouldn't be relegated that way for the main character. I mean, we got to see America's parents, Wanda's kids, even Christine husband has a physical actor on screen.
posted by cendawanita at 10:02 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Are there any nods to Steve Ditko's style in the way the magical effects are depicted? I know he wouldn't have cared either way, but it'd feel like a wasted opportunity if not.
posted by Paul Slade at 10:03 AM on May 6


Honestly What If had more of that. This one is very much a Raimi palette. Fwiw I'm sad I didn't watch it with my friends (it's Eid week so we're all scattered for the holidays) because the final battle only had me reacting in the cinema to the bits with souls of the damned entourage. Siiiiigh.
posted by cendawanita at 10:07 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I saw this last night and enjoyed it quite a bit. It was suitably weird for Dr. Strange, much more so than the first movie. I loved the battle with music notes and the dimension hopping.

The Illuminati were some fun cameos, and Wanda certainly made short work of them. It's so Reed Richards to tell her what Black Bolt was going to do, as if she would calmly back down.
posted by Fleebnork at 10:49 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]


The reveal that Wanda was the threat was genuinely surprising to me, not because it was unexpected but because they just went straight for it. She said “why don’t you bring America here?” And I was like “wait a minute, did he tell her America’s name …? Oohhh shit”. And then Strange caught it as well and off we went.

One of the things I love about MCU movies is how well they do planting and payoff of narrative elements. Like America proving she’s been in another universe by showing the other Strange’s corpse, which 616 Strange literally PLANTS in the roof of the building. And when he needs to dreamwalk later, it’s right there waiting for him, looking not unlike a Deadite in Army of Darkness. A real *chef’s kiss* moment for me.
posted by wabbittwax at 11:49 AM on May 6 [13 favorites]


I was pretty surprised that Kang the Conqueror from Loki didn't show up in this.
posted by simonw at 10:52 PM on May 6 [6 favorites]


Does anyone know how the successors that Wanda killed were back alive at the end of the movie? Or was that Wanda somehow reverting things?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:13 PM on May 6


In the comics, the first issue of the illuminati has black panther listen to the pitch and storm out with "fuck this, fuck all of you, you idiots will get us all killed, get out of my house."

In the third issue of illuminati they start a war on accident.

In the fourth issue Reed Richards opens a briefcase and starts the meeting with "Guess what, I've been collecting infinity stones! Here they are!" and later the Watcher shows up to rant at him and his dumb plan that everyone else went along with.

This version being a bunch of pompous jackasses who cause their own extremely avoidable deaths is pretty true to the comics.



Great movie, not quite an Everything Everywhere All At Once but still fun. I appreciated that they did a traditional "wanda goes crazy" plot but for an actual good reason.
posted by fomhar at 11:37 PM on May 6 [10 favorites]


Entertaining, but there was a lot of untapped potential in the script. I thought there were story threads that would have been interesting to pursue, like Xavier's trip to an astral plane with Wanda which made it clear that SW was separate from Wanda and was controlling her. That idea would be cool to explore, as well as some deeper explorations of the different universes, but instead SW/Wanda just went squish and we had to make room for a shit-ton of zap-zap-punch (a lot even for a Marvel movie) and Sam Raimi to go back to doing Evil Dead stuff. I liked seeing Agent (Captain) Carter again. Fine night at the drive in, but just fine.
posted by transient at 4:46 AM on May 7


About 80% of the theater stayed right through the credits. First the sequel-bait with Charlize Theron going "Come with me to save the universe, no time to explain!", which made a fair few fans happy. And then after ten minutes, Bruce Campbell himself directly trolling the entire crowd. For me, that was the most hilarious part of the whole theater experience and I deeply respect Raimi for knowing his audience that well.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 5:16 AM on May 7 [12 favorites]


Xavier's trip to an astral plane with Wanda which made it clear that SW was separate from Wanda and was controlling her.

It was her mind. That’s Xavier’s thing. Astral planes are Dr. Strange’s thing.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:22 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


So when Doctor Strange looked at the 14,000,605 futures in Endgame, he was looking at futures for single universe, right? But the TVA was going to prune everything, right? So none would have actually come through except the one where the Avengers win, which would allow the MCU to be returned to the multiverse.

So HWR remains was driving all of that, in order to get the MCU back into the multiverse framework? Because in the end, he decided that was better than wiping out half of the MCU?

My brain hurts so much right now
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:58 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


NBD, but Xavier totally has access to the astral plane. He had an astral plane duel with a guy in a fez I think in X-Men Giant-Size #1?*

*Lifetime nerdiest internet comment achieved.
posted by transient at 8:33 AM on May 7 [7 favorites]


Amahl Farouk, the Shadow King - I was really blown away by the issue of X-Men that told that story (early one hundred and teens?), and he's the main antagonist in Legion. Which has the best psychic battles, I think (the best one is the dance-off, IMO).
posted by Grangousier at 9:24 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


The Wanda that Xavier is trying to free from the rubble isn’t our Wanda (616) entrapped by the Scarlet Witch. She’s the Wanda from Xavier’s universe (831 did they call it?) trapped by our Wanda while she’s dreamwalking in her body. Subtle but important distinction.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:43 AM on May 7 [14 favorites]


Predictable hanging threads:

SW suffered one of those Movie Deaths by crushing a mountain that totally makes it possible for her to return. So we'll see. Or clearly Another Wanda could show up.

It would be interesting if America became the main antagonist to Kang; is her power related to there only being one of her?

Fight scenes were good; there wasn't really any emotional heft to speak of
posted by emjaybee at 12:57 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Oh and I was also struck by the (unintentional?) message of how evil it is for a white woman to murder a bunch of people (especially a Hispanic teen) to ensure that nothing can ever hurt her kids. Multiple people begged her to care about anyone else and she chose not to, over and over.

Whether this is really consistent with the Wanda at the end of Wandavision is a good question, probably handwaved away by "the Darkhold corrupted her."
posted by emjaybee at 4:44 PM on May 7 [16 favorites]


Whether this is really consistent with the Wanda at the end of Wandavision is a good question, probably handwaved away by "the Darkhold corrupted her."

Handwaved away by "we all know women are too emotionally unstable to handle great power" and "every woman's deepest desire is to have kids", neither of which I ever felt required reviving in the modern MCU but which were already previewed by what happened to Nat, so. Still trying to bring myself to see this movie because I know I'll enjoy bits of it, but poor Wanda. One stupid late 70s (?) comics storyline haunting her forever.
posted by praemunire at 5:29 PM on May 7 [10 favorites]


yeah it's not great! I mean, at least it's "these specific kids that remind me of the dude I loved" and not "kids in general" but still. eh.

The whole Scarlet Witch thing is weird, in that, it's a sort of Pokemon evolution of Wanda that results in either godhood (that could be benign, maybe?) or destruction. Like once she goes that route, that's it, bad shit happens. No going back to just Wanda, no "hey I just want to help people" mode.

Whereas say, Superman can step into and away from his power and mostly keep balance and not try to tear the universe apart.
posted by emjaybee at 6:16 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


I think that the alleged Wanda problem really boils down to the nature of reality rearranging; the problem with wishing for things isn't just that you might get them, but that that's how you solve problems. You can't even see it as corruption--it's just, you know, what you do. If there's an infinite amount of parallel universes, then the loss of any universe's Wanda, Billy, Tommy, the entire Illuminati, whatever, is of infinitesimal importance; at least, that's what someone who seems to have slim to nil decent coping skills to begin with (basically the whole message of WandaVision) might arrive at, maybe nudged along with the help of the Darkhold, which is 99 44/100ths % pure distilled corruption. (And maybe, now that the Darkhold doesn't exist anywhere, we might see a different aspect of Agatha Harkness.)

As for Wanda, well, Earth-616 might still get another multiverse's Wanda--maybe the one from Earth-Whatchamacallit, the one that used to have the Illuminati and probably isn't too happy about having a Wanda of their own. That could also bring in Billy and Tommy, if they're going to do Young Avengers.

Overall, I liked it fine, although Everything Everywhere All At Once is still the better multiverse movie. Good to see Hayley Atwell in the live-action flesh, and Anson Mount, Lashana Lynch, and Patrick Stewart do their things. (Oh, OK, and Krasinski too, I guess.) I wasn't sure if 616 Mordo was still going around taking away people's mojo, but this version was good. And the only bad thing about Charlize Theron as Clea is that who knows how long we'll have to wait to see her strut her stuff.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:28 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Also, it's amusing that there's a lot of chat on Twitter about how the world's smartest man told the extremely dangerous woman with unknown powers how the world's most powerful man's powers worked.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:01 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


If there's an infinite amount of parallel universes, then the loss of any universe's Wanda, Billy, Tommy, the entire Illuminati, whatever, is of infinitesimal importance

In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Owlman assembles a bomb intended to destroy the multiverse. His reasoning: it's the only choice that matters. Any other choice you make is mimicked or reversed in another universe. Burning the whole thing down is the only thing that makes a difference.
posted by SPrintF at 9:21 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


I went in hoping that Raimi would shake up the normally pedestrian visuals and camera-work in Marvel films and came away mostly satisfied. It's not Spider-Man 2 but it's got some nice signature flourishes and much more of a horror feel and a little more color contrast than usual. I loved how much of Army of Darkness broke out in the third act and there were at last a couple descent jump scares.

I finally caught up with No Way Home on Friday and this was so much better than that mechanical exercise.

I did hate the whole illuminati thing with the gratuitous fan-service character reveals. I was so happy that no one in my theater clapped that that manipulative garbage.
posted by octothorpe at 12:13 PM on May 8


Oh, I forgot to mention Elfman's score which is terrific.
posted by octothorpe at 3:04 PM on May 8 [7 favorites]


In the Infinite Multiverse, wouldn't you suppose there were at least a few universes where the kids were there, and that universe's Wanda had died? Seems that would've solved a lot of problems, if they could find one of those. Aside from the killing America to absorb her powers thing.

And yes, I know, every Wanda is a little different, and every Billy and Tommy are a little different, and she wouldn't exactly be the mom they had known, and they wouldn't exactly be the kids she had known, but maybe close enough?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:12 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


I wonder what would have happened if Wanda had simply asked America for help.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:32 AM on May 10 [16 favorites]


Then the movie would have been 20 minutes long.
posted by octothorpe at 11:38 AM on May 10 [6 favorites]


Nah, might have been an interesting xtra 10 minutes.

Wanda and America go on said adventure. But Wanda starts losing patience and temper, because America insists on finding a universe where the boys are orphans. Eventually Wanda gets tired of this and tries to imprison America, who then escapes and runs into that Dr Strange variant we seen in the beginning. Rest of the movie flows roughly the same.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:35 PM on May 10 [9 favorites]


Also, Wanda makes the point that with the power to transverse universes she could protect her kids from EVERYTHING. No disease without a cure. Billy gets into a car wreak, find a new Billy. That sort of thing.

There was no compromise on power when it came to her kids.
posted by m@f at 6:17 PM on May 10 [5 favorites]


I expected to like this movie but came out wishing I'd gone to see Everything Everywhere All at Once again instead. I feel like this could have worked if it had been a lot more character driven, but because the script didn't even build off the character development in WandaVision, it left me cold.
posted by peppermind at 2:07 AM on May 11 [4 favorites]


the movie suffered from not showing the jump from remorseful Wanda to vengeful Wanda

It was supposed to be the influence of the Darkhold that did it, but showing that more explicitly might have helped in a movie this chaotic.

I kind of wonder how this movie was for people who didn't see WandaVision. Better? Worse? More confusing?

I do kind of wish there'd been a different motivation for Wanda for once, but she does make a good, scary, cool villain that you still want to sympathize with a little. Overall I enjoyed it.

The couple of groan moments for me were with Reed Richards being the worst poker player ever and Wong not portaling himself to safety when thrown off the cliff (...and somehow miraculously landing on a very narrow ledge without rolling/boucning off, then waking up fully capable after being knocked out cold for several minutes? come on).

I kind of want to live in the New York where there are gardens literally everywhere and everybody dresses in monochrome and pizza is spherical.
posted by Foosnark at 6:57 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Was everyone wearing a hat? It seemed like everyone was wearing a hat to the point that I thought it was going to be part of the plot.
posted by Night_owl at 10:35 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Wanda lost her parents traumatically. Then she lost her brother. Half the Avengers after Civil War. Then her boyfriend. Then her fantasy of a husband in Vision and kids, and her connection with all the other avengers. Even Strange only came to see her when he needed her, he didn't go looking for her to offer his help. She's right, it's not fucking fair. Orphans aren't great at reaching out either. Didn't someone say at one point she and her brother only had each other?

Remember how they talked about the alt Strange wanting to go it alone? And how Strange in the broken apart version was alone, and killing versions of himself? I think the message I took from this was that being alone and having to be in control destroys people and leaves them vulnerable to bad influences that justify their horrible actions and tell them they are superior.

Anyway, I'm not always the best at checking in with people, but I'm going to take this as the universe (multiverse?) encouraging me to check in with friends and family.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 8:01 PM on May 11 [9 favorites]


She's right, it's not fucking fair.

I have always found it weird that after the battle was over in Endgame, no one bothered to check on Wanda. Sam, the guy we first meet as he's leading returns vets, didn't reach out? Pepper, the amazingly smart, very personable CEO didn't immediately yet up a fund and housing and hire tons of experts to help take care of everyone?

Then NOBODY bothered to check up on that strange power suddenly coming from Westview except Agatha? That never made much sense to me.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:12 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Back in the 1960s, DC Comics would sometimes feel obliged to explain why one of its less powerful characters was dealing with an apocalyptic crisis on their own rather than calling Superman for help. The usual answer was that he happened to be away on a mission to deep space at the time.
posted by Paul Slade at 4:35 AM on May 13


Just like in WandaVision, the actors who played her sons are terrible. They must be somebody's nephews.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:30 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


I was distracted by Doctor Strange's skin (not the zombie one, the regular one) and Christine's hair. Both seemed like there was more than the usual movie makeup / wigs involved. Maybe CGI?

Why were Zombie Strange's eyeballs fine while everything else rotted?
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:34 PM on May 13


After a week of mulling over the film, I still like it but man that horrible middle section with the pageant of superheros still really annoys me.
posted by octothorpe at 4:46 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Saw it. As predicted, did enjoy various bits, did not enjoy "crazy lady just wants to be a mommy." (Also, if I were Vision, I'd be all, "What am I, chopped liver???")

Why didn't they look for an AU Vision, or...hear me out...an AU Wanda?
posted by praemunire at 10:49 PM on May 14 [7 favorites]


This felt to me more like a bunch of set pieces strung together than a coherent movie, but some of the set pieces were really fun. I particularly liked the music fight in the haunted incursion castle/sanctum.

I get that the Illuminati were maybe dumb on purpose, but they were real oblivious. I would not have minded, but I love Haley Atwell and would have liked a better AU for her.

America Chavez seems cool; I would watch a movie that was actually about her. I do not care about Stephen Strange , with or without the addition of Charlize Theron.
posted by the primroses were over at 7:43 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Visually, very good. It’s mostly CGI orb throwing, but it’s well done. The music note fight stands out. And there were some fun moments.

That being said: I didn’t care for this movie much as a whole:

1) It leans all the way into the MCU’s worst tendencies as far as needing to do homework. If you had not seen Wandavision then her motives would be *incomprehensible*.

2) It actively undermines Wandavision’s conclusion—the whole point of which was that she finally let go of Vision and her fake kids and that she regretted hurting a town full of innocent people. It would be OK to have the Darkhold corrupt her and tempt her into murdering Chavez and everyone else in her way, but they needed to spend a little time showing that transition.

3) Even accepting that the Darkhold has corrupted her, the plan was so obviously flawed that she should not have needed Chavez to show her the error of her ways. Wanda isn’t supposed to be stupid; she should have been able to anticipate that the next step after “acquire multiversal travel” would be “travel to another universe and—oh wait, how will I explain to the kids what’s going on?”

4) It uses the concept of the multiverse in all the ways I knew and feared Marvel would. Using it to demonstrate Disney’s purchasing power for cheap pops: Check. Using it to demonstrate threat by having our villain kill several superheroes easily: Check. Using it to turn up the threat dial from Infinity War’s half the universe dead: Check (838’s Dr. Strange out-does Thanos’s kill count by *accident*).

5) It does not solve (or even address) the Rick & Morty problem of multiverses: If you have an infinite number of universes where every possible thing happens, then what is the point, narratively, of anything? The people in universe 838 are disposable. It doesn’t matter that Captain Carter got cut in half, because we’re never coming back here.

6) This is a problem generally with the MCU’s treatment of magic, but there are no limits on what can and can’t happen. Constraints make for interesting stories. (I just finished reading Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, so I have magic systems on the mind. Sanderson may go too far the other way for a movie-length work, to be fair)

7) Even the constraints the story does set, it ignores. Dr. Strange uses the Darkhold to reanimate his zombie self, stuff it full of ghosts, and pilot it from across the multiverse using a spell “corrosive to the soul.” Yet he seems to have suffered no ill effects. Now, sure, maybe this third eyeball stuff will be the payoff for that eventually. But that’s not in this movie and it isn’t clearly a bad thing, so it doesn’t count.

If you want to make a *good* story then using the Darkhold needs to be a sacrifice, or giving into temptation, or taking power out of arrogance. State the cost upfront. Show Strange trying every other way he can think of to save Chavez. Then have him give up/in and use the Darkhold. Then show him paying the cost, or at least fighting off the Darkhold’s corrupting influence.

Using the Darkhold should have introduced a struggle, and there just *isn’t* one.
posted by JDHarper at 2:31 PM on May 15 [12 favorites]


Speaking of Rick & Morty,

man that horrible middle section with the pageant of superheros still really annoys me

The movie completely unintentionally mashed together two concepts from that show! The Illuminati was basically the Citadel/the Council of Ricks with all of its apparent resources and orderly glory, and get eliminated in short order because they're a bunch of stuffed shirts with no heart. Also like the Vindicators, who are basically straightforward Avengers parodies, but still similar fate. The pageant of superheroes was set up to fail! It was a Rick & Morty, South Park, Itchy & Scratchy, little ultraviolent subversive self-parody moment in an MCU movie and we have Sam Raimi to thank!
posted by Apocryphon at 7:13 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


That section was so obviously mandated by the studio and it just felt jarring and out of place with the rest of the film. It felt pretty obvious that none of the actors were in the same room together at the same time and it was all so stilted and flat.

It probably says something about my face-blindness that I didn't recognize Krasinski.
posted by octothorpe at 6:18 AM on May 16


But Chiwetel Ejiofor looked very good as AU!Mordo.
posted by praemunire at 7:44 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


Apparently there was a 616/MCU version in one of the shooting scripts but he met a fatal end at the hands of Wanda (as he's hunting down magic users) so I'm glad that didn't make the final cut. Still! I'm ambivalent because while I have no good suggestions otherwise the fact that Stephen Strange's supposed antagonist as set up in the first movie is nowhere to be found just speaks to Strange's burden of having been used as canon spackle in between his solo outings (apparently in the early storyboards for WV, the advertisement interstitials were meant to be coming from him to break through to Wanda). There's a lot of cruft to his MCU character specifically, or maybe it's because there's no natural groupings that followed him from the comics for people to make sense of his movie outings - the way the Captain America set or the NYC street vigilantes set have been.

Anyway speaking as Wanda being coded as white in the MCU, since I brought up what-ifs (heh) Fassbender was apparently planned to appear as well but I'm not sure if it was meant as a link to Wanda or specifically the 838 version. Which is interesting because between that (which I was bracing for when Xavier travelled to her mind) and Mt Wundagore I wonder if there is any notice to the conversations regarding her (later established) Roma background but in any case, a purely theoretical discussion at this point.
posted by cendawanita at 8:44 AM on May 16


Fassbender was apparently planned to appear as well but I'm not sure if it was meant as a link to Wanda or specifically the 838 version

It was strongly implied in Days of Future Past that Magneto was Quicksilver's dad (with a living mother). That bit is a little tricky to finesse.
posted by praemunire at 9:45 AM on May 16


JDHarper, if you think this treatment of multiverses is bad just wait until X-Men '97 picks up the animated version of X-Men from the corresponding comics and it turns out to be a prequel for the entire MCU.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 7:10 PM on May 16


So.... if there was a big mountain with the original Darkhold spells carved on the walls, is there also a cavern somewhere with the contents of the Book of Vishanti?

I wondered why they did not have Billy and Teddy show their powers, if this was meant to be Young Avengers foreshadowing. I suppose they could be planning to recast on the grounds that the original kids were cast in order to mimic a very specific kind of tv sitcom mugging and maybe they won't develop action movie skills. Wanda's kids in the comics were not just constructs but had actual souls (split off lizard-tail style from someone who had sold his soul and accidentally caught when Wanda was constructing them) so when she released them, those souls got themselves reborn to different parents (that is the extremely simplified version, because comics). If they could find some way to shoe-horn that in it's a good excuse for recasting.

They noted a few times that the Darkhold was why the Scarlet Witch went completely off the rails and I suppose we can only hope that the level of corruption was from reading it for months on end.

Can Wong have his own movie, now that he's Sorcerer Supreme and has been gathering heroes together?
posted by Karmakaze at 7:32 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


I just want to know if Wong and Cumberbatch had fun nicknames on set to distinguish them? The director can't just yell out "Hey Benedict"
posted by octothorpe at 7:51 AM on May 17 [7 favorites]


Wong should at least take the mantle up from Nick Fury in the credits scenes in terms of gathering up new heroes.

This mid-credits scene cracked me up for two reasons: first, I wonder when Marvel-Disney is going to run out of big Hollywood stars to appear for their stunt casting cameos- shame Angelina Jolie never got one ahead of Eternals.

Second, I like how the cosmic mystical nature of preserving the integrity of all space-time multiversal existence itself has been bureaucratized with more and more factions crawling out of the woodwork. We had the Time Variance Authority, now there's whatever organization that Charlize Theron is representing? (Even the Eternals felt like this sort of group, though their mandate was a little more grounded.) It's like a Terry Pratchett gag, or '90s Star Trek storylines involving temporal conflicts. The anti-time travel/universe hopping paradox hunters are on patrol!

As the MCU gets more grandiose and obsessed with these cosmic-level continuity dramas, it's gonna get further away from the human element that connects superheroes to audiences. (I think this mirrors the periodic downfall of superhero comic books themselves, leading to the industry shaking loose its continuity convolutions with big events like Crisis on Infinite Earths.) Yeah, No Way Home was able to thread the needle and deliver both multiverse adventure and human emotion, but it also had the benefit of leaning on decades of Spider-Man cinematic nostalgia. Marvel-Disney can't necessarily do that again, or just make a clone of Everything Everywhere All at Once. While plenty of MCU media can simply choose not to focus on the cosmic-level events, the fact that they exist in the background tends to obscure the human-level heroism. In the face of ever-higher, more contrived stakes, Hawkeye really does become just an archer with a mohawk.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:51 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


This mid-credits scene cracked me up for two reasons: first, I wonder when Marvel-Disney is going to run out of big Hollywood stars to appear for their stunt casting cameos- shame Angelina Jolie never got one ahead of Eternals.


Again with my face-blindness , I always have to ask my wife who the hell that was in the post-credit scene.
posted by octothorpe at 1:25 PM on May 17


Wow, was I disappointed with this. I have similar dissatisfaction with the treatment of Wanda that a lot of people seem to have, but for me it was mostly how bad the script was. I can't think of another MCU movie with writing this bad. Oh, it's by the guy who wrote the Loki show. That fits.

From the first scene, it was nothing but ham-handed dialogue. Characters bluntly describing what's going on or what they're doing. None of it subtle, clever, amusing, or even just odd. Some inventive visuals but hardly any inventive ideas. Most of the "magic" battles are just energy blasts against energy shields with everyone grunting like it's all just a matter of who can push harder.

It had one satisfying idea—letting Strange dreamwalk into his own universe by possessing the corpse America brought from the other one. That was set up nicely and solved the problem in a way I didn't see coming.

One of my least favorite things in alternate universe and "What If?" stories is how often they'll gratuitously kill most of the characters since they are just alternates, often including a bunch of gross gag deaths. "What If Black Bolt Had No Mouth and Tried To Scream?" was a particularly egregious example of that trope. It was like something out of Warren Ellis's "RUINS" parody.
posted by straight at 12:52 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


the almost automatic assumption that he's a stand-in father figure

I was glad to see that subverted when America pulls rank on Strange, reminding him that she's the experienced multiversal traveler. "The first rule of other dimensions is that you don't know anything."

I was also glad to hear that in most universes food is free. Isn't it weird that you have to pay for it here?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:09 AM on May 20


On a more basic level, this is just not a story I wanted to see. Hands up all you fans excited about the X-Men being brought into the MCU who were thinking, "I wanna see Wanda break Xavier's neck!"
posted by straight at 8:43 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Not that in particular, but I thought Wanda taking down a whole bunch of highly powered superheroes in quick succession was one of the highlights of the film.

I think one of the problems of the MCU is often the villains are underpowered, especially when you've got whole teams of heroes operating against them. Loki versus Thor might be interesting, Loki versus Thor and a bunch of other Avengers is one-sided. So it was good to see all the hype about the Scarlet Witch and the Darkhold actually show up on screen, as a supervillain with major superpowers and actual villainy.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:03 AM on May 20 [8 favorites]


"I wanna see Wanda break Xavier's neck!"

Want real crossovers, Spiderman vs Superman. Or Wanda seriously stuck in the 50's with her memories but no power living next to Samantha Stephens.
posted by sammyo at 2:10 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Most of the "magic" battles are just energy blasts against energy shields with everyone grunting like it's all just a matter of who can push harder.

That's been a problem that's been prevalent with all of Doctor Strange's appearances in the MCU so far. The most prominent exception was the musical notes battle in this one, which was the effects highlight for me. It was so evocative, led me to ask- was it only music or sound that has magical weaponizable worth, or any symbol? How far does it go? Sadly, they've yet to explore any of the actual mystic aspects of Strange, relying on vaguely generic MacGuffins and prophecies and spells, and his dual-wielded mini-portals are really just the same thing as Iron Man's repulsor beams except based on a different gimmick.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:46 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]


Most of the "magic" battles are just energy blasts against energy shields with everyone grunting like it's all just a matter of who can push harder.

Long-term MCU problem, where Ultimate Power is depicted as either PUNCHING!!! or different-colored beams of light.
posted by praemunire at 7:19 AM on May 25 [5 favorites]


Thinking about it more: the kids aren’t necessarily bad actors. They have lousy parts and bad direction.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:56 AM on May 25


There were gasps in the audience at the Captain Carter reveal.

I wonder if, going forward, Doctor Strange will be less of an control freak, or be more careful about who he trusts.


> One of my least favorite things in alternate universe and "What If?" stories is how often they'll gratuitously kill most of the characters since they are just alternates, often including a bunch of gross gag deaths. "What If Black Bolt Had No Mouth and Tried To Scream?" was a particularly egregious example of that trope.

Black Bolt's ending cracked me up, honestly, but - Inhumans spoiler - the first episode involved him killing someone, and I didn't feel the pathos, I laughed at the stupidity. I was already primed to laugh here because they used his (stupid and canon) given name, Blackagar Boltagon.

I wondered if Scarlet Witch hooked up to the Phoenix Force, crossing wires in a weird way, but I guess Professor X might have recognized it.
posted by Pronoiac at 6:54 PM on May 26


If you think the name "Blackagar Boltagon" is stupid rather than delightful, I'm not sure Marvel Comics is the right genre for you.
posted by straight at 10:36 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


I wonder if, going forward, Doctor Strange will be less of an control freak

I think that was supposed to be the point, but Wanda's and Stephen's potentially analogous issues just passed each other like giant battleships powering across the ocean, unable to make any smaller maneuvers.

Maybe we can go find a multiverse Bryan Singer who isn't an abuser and get him to direct future MCU fights. From day one, he's basically been the only director who seems to think about interesting/fun things people could do with their powers. Raimi did try a little here, but it wasn't enough.
posted by praemunire at 1:42 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Saw this today, thought it was pretty "meh."

What I liked:

Finally a fight scene where the heroes don't all attack from the same side, but from different angles at the same time!

What I didn't like:

With the exception of the music fight, most of the fighting was uninspired and derivative of the dozens of other superhero beat-em-ups.

The characters were thin, so there was no real emotional heft. (I felt like Doctor Strange's What If? episode was both more involving and more affecting.)

The film had the common problem of trying to write geniuses, where the supposed genius doesn't seem very genius-like in any way whatsoever. There are at least two possible solutions to this problem: 1) have a genius write the film, or 2) have a writer's room full of very smart people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, and when someone says "but why wouldn't they just ____?" listen to them and find another solution. I shouldn't be watching a Marvel movie feeling like Reed Richards could be outsmarted by 30% of everyone he's ever met.

The negation of whatever character arc was supposed to have happened with Wanda by the end of WandaVision. This could have been subverted/complicated some by showing Wanda's increasing corruption, or by showing her trying and failing to find other ways to reunite with her children, becoming increasingly desperate, but this approach just struck me (like the writing of Reed Richards) as kind of lazy and rote, the satisficer's approach to plot development.

The obvious "oh, so now a jump scare" moments followed by, yeah, now a jump scare.

The failure to draw parallels between Wanda and Doctor Strange. They're both struggling with loss, still; this could have been an interesting exploration of the similarities and differences between their experiences and could have had some genuinely profound things to say about the human experience. Maybe that's expecting too much, but it feels like a real missed opportunity to me. (WandaVision did better in one single line with "What is grief if not love persevering?")

Marvel keeps leaning on this "see? It's all connected" approach which, sure, they also keep making movies which gross a billion dollars so I doubt very much that a complaint along these lines would sway them, but at this point I'm having to whisper to my boyfriend in the theater the Clif's Notes of half the characters even though he has also seen the relevant movies, and it reminds me of going back to one of those Matt Smith Doctor Who episodes and having to pause and think back to whatever was going on at that point in the storyline and what the characters did and didn't know, and as JDHarper said, it's starting to feel like homework. (If I wanted homework, I'd go back to school.)

I suspect very strongly that these films will continue grossing a billion dollars until the canon gets so deep it passes some threshold, then there will be a sharp drop in interest, at which point Marvel will decide to hop over to the next universe and start again. And maybe nobody in charge will find that a problem, since the money is apparently being delivered by dump truck, but at this point I feel like these films have topped out at visual spectacles which only manage to be entertaining if you don't think about them.

They could be more, and I want them to be.
posted by johnofjack at 5:31 PM on May 29 [8 favorites]


The major problem is that Doctor Strange just isn't an interesting character. He's just a more waspish Tony Stark. You can respect the character's skills, but there's no reason to like him and there's no charm to him. Add in the confessing undying love on his crush's wedding day to someone else and I'm sending Marvel a doctor's bill, 'cause I rolled my eyes so hard.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:49 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]


Add in the confessing undying love on his crush's wedding day to someone else

They had been together--and for him, though not for her, relatively recently. I don't think she didn't know he was still carrying a torch.
posted by praemunire at 7:14 PM on May 29


It's still creepy and rude.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:50 PM on May 30 [6 favorites]


I led us to the wrong auditorium, and it wasn't until "Focus Features" showed onscreen, followed by a British estate and some names in top billing which we didn't expect, that we realized it. So we only saw from Gargantos chasing America onwards.

I think if I had seen Dr. Strange declare his undying love for his ex at her wedding, I would have cringed so hard that I had an out of body experience. Creepy indeed, and totally inappropriate.
posted by johnofjack at 2:43 PM on May 30


I think if I had seen Dr. Strange declare his undying love for his ex at her wedding, I would have cringed so hard that I had an out of body experience.

He literally just said "I never stopped caring about us, but blah blah blah sacrifice, I'm sorry." Frankly, I thought it was more eyebrow-raising that he turned water into wine at a wedding.

Having rewatched it just now, it's definitely one of those movies you have to take in the old-school way, reading past a misogynist plot and some terrible dialogue for the pulp pleasures within. But there are some. Ultimately, I cannot deny that zombie Strange pleased my twelve-year-old self.
posted by praemunire at 3:37 PM on May 30 [5 favorites]


Instead of Benedict Cumberbatch they should've just gone with stunt casting and had Hugh Laurie play House, M.D. with superpowers, FOX copyrights be damned
posted by Apocryphon at 12:33 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


It's still creepy and rude.

That's pretty much his brand.
posted by octothorpe at 6:09 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


It isn’t clear to me that the filmmakers knew it was creepy and rude.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:02 PM on May 31


It was clear to me that they didn’t consider it creepy and rude.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:04 PM on May 31 [3 favorites]


The script, for me, was a real case of diminishing returns on the MCU, redeemed by Sam Raimi's direction to be kinda good. I still would have rather seen the planned original Scott Derrickson version, which was to be a rated R horror film.

Also: what would be the harm if they wrapped one of these movies up in less than a hundred minutes?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:12 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Dr. Strange's only interesting moment in the MCU was when (in Infinity War) nobody else (not even Loki!) can bring themselves to sacrifice their allies to keep the stones away from Thanos, but Strange says, "Tony, if it's a choice between you and the stone, I'm gonna choose the stone."

And then he peeks at the end of the script and finds out he's factually wrong—that the only way to save the universe is to give up the stone to save Tony—and it's this perfect little parable about the epistemological argument against consequentialism.
posted by straight at 12:48 AM on June 1 [5 favorites]


There was a part of me that was half expecting a reverse House of X, 'Mutants!' Scarlet Witch moment at the end, tying the X-Men etc back into 616/199,999.
posted by biffa at 9:44 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


I do appreciate how this movie has allowed Marvel-Disney to really integrate its properties
posted by Apocryphon at 10:41 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Vision wasn't in this one because he would have told her that she was wrong for wanting to kidnap someone else's kids, then they would have fought, then either he would have won and the movie would have been 35 minutes long or he would have lost and the audience would have lost all sympathy for Wanda.

If nothing else, this movie has had me thinking about how various sff works treat people as fungible, and how that feels fundamentally reactionary to me and anti-intersectional. I'd expect that from Rick & Morty but was surprised to remember that Doctor Who fell into this trap too with Jackie and Pete.
posted by johnofjack at 8:41 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]


I liked the first act quite a lot, but I have to admit I was disappointed with the lack of follow-through on the core concept. It's not much of a multiverse if we only see, like, two alternative universes. That's more like a triniverse.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:21 PM on June 22


I really thought that the sorcerer who got in one of the few good hits on Wanda during the siege and then gave their life to destroy the Darkhold was meant to be nonbinary, which I liked, but I saw the Funko Pop yesterday and I guess she was a woman.

We saw four (outside of the quick-jump sequence): the Supreme!Strange universe (opening scene), 616 (standard MCU), 838 (with the Illuminati), and then the Sinister!Strange universe.
posted by praemunire at 4:22 PM on June 22


Does America's home multiverse count?

This just landed on Disney Plus, I might rewatch it.
posted by Pronoiac at 4:25 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


i want to live in paintworld
posted by lalochezia at 8:09 PM on June 22


Really hard to eat there.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:44 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


Am I misremembering or does America tell Strange "The First Rule is you know nothing" then immediately follow up with a confident "food is free" statement? Felt like odd scripting/editing to me.
posted by Faintdreams at 2:56 AM on June 24


Am I misremembering or does America tell Strange "The First Rule is you know nothing" then immediately follow up with a confident "food is free" statement? Felt like odd scripting/editing to me.

I just figured that as America having some amount of experience bouncing around the Multiverse.
posted by Fleebnork at 4:47 AM on June 24


Felt like odd scripting/editing to me.

Inconsistent, but...the overconfidence felt true to a tween/young teenager to me. I mean, she immediately finds out she's wrong about the 838!economy.
posted by praemunire at 9:41 AM on June 24 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed it, but it's possible that my deep suspicion of Wanda as a character made it easier for me to appreciate a movie where she is absolutely the bad guy. This is also the first time Benedict Cumberbatch has managed an American accent that is not screechingly off. It was only when I started complaining about all the terrible wigs -- about halfway through the movie, poor Christine -- that I realized Cumberbatch had evolved past that weird Dr House impression he used to do.

(Also, I hear you that the third act gets predictably messy, but I loved zombie Strange!)
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:20 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


This is also the first time Benedict Cumberbatch has managed an American accent that is not screechingly off.

It's always been a scandal, hasn't it? The one thing a classically-trained English actor is supposed to be able to do is all the accents! Though he still can't make "bust my ass" or "crap" sound lifelike.
posted by praemunire at 5:56 PM on June 25


Though he still can't make "bust my ass" or "crap" sound lifelike.

I genuinely chortled when he replied “‘sup?” to America near the end. I wonder if that’s taught at the London Academy.
posted by cheapskatebay at 6:02 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Strictly speaking, the one thing a classically-trained actor is trained to do is to take words that to any reasonable person sound like gibberish and make an audience believe that not only does the character understand what they are saying but that the audience does too, despite the fact that they have no idea what most of the words mean, especially in that order.

I mean, that's Shakespearean acting in a nutshell, but is also true of doing exposition in Hollywood SF and fantasy movies, which is why actors with such training are in so much demand. That and the fact that they're relatively inexpensive given their wide and deep experience.
posted by Grangousier at 4:32 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Am I misremembering or does America tell Strange "The First Rule is you know nothing" then immediately follow up with a confident "food is free" statement? Felt like odd scripting/editing to me.

I think the joke is that "You can't assume anything...except of course there can't be a universe where human beings would refuse to give someone food unless they had money..."
posted by straight at 9:53 AM on June 27 [2 favorites]


I was kind of surprised this showed up on D+ so soon. Anyway, I just finished it. God what a mess. It’s just all over the place, with every CG shop in the business working overtime keeping it somehow taped together. I’m still not sure, exactly, what I just watched. Seemed like an awful long way to go just to write Elizabeth Olsen out of the MCU.

I did dig that the boys were watching an Oswald the Rabbit cartoon.

If watching any future Doc Strange means having to stare at that damned awful third eye, I’m out.

The detour to kill-off Xavier seemed really awkward and entirely useless (as was the entire Illuminati thing, for that matter.)

It’s not a bad movie, by any means. But I can’t imagine anyone considering it a must-see. It’s highly entertaining, yet utterly forgettable.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:41 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


Finally caught it on streaming after I kept failing to find a mostly-empty theatre in my covid-what-covid? town.

It was shaggy and poorly written but honestly I was here for it! It was a bunch scarier and more brutal than I expect from an MCU movie. Cape of Dead Souls, five characters we know getting ganked, Wanda going Full Badguy. Bruce Greenwood cameo was hilarious and America (and her pride pin) made me happy. I can’t wait to watch Hailey and Xochitl and Florence team up. Seems kinda like Tom Holland should be in there too — yeah I know it wouldn’t match the Young Avengers comics but he brings great twink energy.

Yeah, a lot of pew pew energy blasts, but the music fight was great — and the Illuminati section! I absolutely cackled when Black Bolt got headsploded. (No idea that was Anson Mount though.)
posted by sixswitch at 6:26 PM on June 30


Enjoyed this at home. My favorite thing about this movie, the previous Dr. Strange, and Spider-Verse is how wildly creative these movies are. The scenes that look pulled straight from the most outlandish comic book pages. Big budget weirdness.

The musical fight scene was the real highlight to me. So was the 'verse traveling scene, although I think Spider-Verse and Everything, Everywhere All At Once both did that better. Zombie Strange was also a lot of fun, the horror and monstrosity of the spirits he absorbs.

I enjoyed the primary story of Scarlet Witch's obsession. I like seeing the trope of a caring mother turned on its head into something malign. The comments upthread are right that this doesn't really jibe with the WandaVision ending. But I never liked that ending, it felt tacked on. I like Scarlet Witch more as a villain with a tragic backstory.

What did not work at all for me was America Chavez. I don't know anything about the comic book character but what we saw in the movie was uninspired and boring; as folks said, she's more of a MacGuffin than a person. I feel bad for Xochitl Gomez, the actor. She's good and I guess this was supposed to be her big break but the writing never lets her get to be an actual character or person. I kept thinking about the Obi-Wan Kenobi TV show and how young Leia stole the show with great writing and acting.
posted by Nelson at 6:36 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm not too up on current comics but I've seen enough of America Chavez in them to know that she's a much more interesting person in them. She's a more short-tempered, punch-annoying-people-through-walls type.

I was listening to the Blank Check podcast on the movie (it concluded their Sam Rami miniseries) and I think I agree with them that covid really screwed up some of the character work (such as it is) for Wanda and for the greater arc of these movies. America was the one originally casting portals in Spiderman, Wandavision was supposed to come out at a different time, etc. But like one of the hosts of that show, I've started letting the continuity stuff roll off my back a bit and just continue to enjoy the good stuff.

I tended to stay away from horror movies, but I really enjoyed all the stuff that was apparently very Rami in the movie. It just added an edge that you tend not to get in MCU movies, and I enjoyed it a ton.
posted by PussKillian at 7:09 AM on July 1


This was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. Sam Raimi is a one-note director whose style I outgrew around 20 years ago. At that time I thought Evil Dead 2 was a towering achievement of cinematic fun and glee(it was and is) but as an old guy now those corny zooms and multi-million dollar CGI effects made to look like cheap 80s horror fell so flat that even the ingenuity of the musical battle was painful and embarrassing. My wife and I looked at each and contemplated even finishing the damn thing.

My buddy was so confused about Chavez and why we should care that he thought the Ms Marvel show was about her and so he blamed not caring because he didn't watch that show and was obviously missing some vital information. When I said no, that's not her, he dropped his review from 5 out of 10 to 3 out of 10.

Wanda, whew, they literally destroyed everything she's been through because they needed a scary villain. I can feel Bob Iger's spirit reaching out, furious that Wanda got a whole show, and making sure she got punished for it. At the very least Wanda 838 should have defeated Wanda 616, the love of her real children giving her the power to protect them and reason with her own lost self.

It is kind of amazing how all the comic book bros/film critics that are about my age and who grew up with Raimi flicks could not stop layering it with praise. I was expecting to be blown away at this foray of the MCU into style but the only thing I thought the entire time was how cringe and awkward everything was. How empty the characters were inside these moments of standard-fare pg13 horror tropes.

Bruce Campbell slapping himself for 3 weeks? I guess Strange is the most dangerous thing in the universe, don't piss him off because he's super petty.

The final final Campbell easter egg was the only thing that worked because yes, it's over.
posted by M Edward at 3:22 PM on July 2


Finally watched this last weekend and it didn't land with me for a lot of the reasons that folks have tread above, but it also didn't land for me because both the setup AND the climax of the movie are identical with the setup and climax of another, much better, Marvel film that deals with multiple universes: Into the Spider-Verse.

In both films, the villain (Wanda and Kingpin) are using dangerous, potentially world-breaking power to break the walls between universes in order to bring back the family that they have lost. That's the setup.

So I was waiting and hoping that this one would bring a different resolution to the story, but no, in both films, the villain succeeds in breaking through to a universe where their family is, and the family sees the villain doing something terrible and violent, and recoils in horror at their actions, and this breaks the villain's will.

It's the same ending to the same problem, and Spider-Verse did it with a panache that Strange is lacking.
posted by gauche at 11:16 AM on July 6 [7 favorites]


I finally watched this. I went in with low expectations and so it was a bit better than I expected. But, wow, the sudden left turn into "HEY, IT'S A RAIMI MOVIE DID YOU KNOW IT'S A RAIMI MOVIE LOOK AT ALL THE EVIL DEAD STYLE STUFF HERE ISN'T IT FUN" not only jarred me out of the plot as it was unfolding, it completely ejected me from any kind of flow of watching a narrative story.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:29 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]


At the very least Wanda 838 should have defeated Wanda 616, the love of her real children giving her the power to protect them and reason with her own lost self.

Yeah, it's not like Strange was even on screen, much less doing anything, during that whole five-minute climax of the movie.
posted by straight at 1:51 PM on July 10


It's the same ending to the same problem, and Spider-Verse did it with a panache that Strange is lacking.

Rami bragged that he didn't need to watch many MCU movies because he was a huge fan of the original comics.

Well, as a huge fan of Marvel Comics, I have to say that the MCU does lots of things better than the comics. Rami's Spider-Man was one of the best comic book superhero movies we'd ever had when it came out. But the bar is much, much higher now. There are at least ten MCU movies better than his first and third Spider-Man, and I'd argue there are several better than Spider-Man 2.

More than anything, this movie just seemed outdated. We have better plots and scripts now, Sam. Civil War and the Infinity Gauntlet movies were better than the comics that inspired them. This movie needed to be better than the dumb comics where Wanda becomes a villain.
posted by straight at 2:00 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


Really? I'd give the first two Spiderman films five stars out of five and while most of the MCU films are entertaining, I wouldn't give a single one better than 4 or maybe 3.5.
posted by octothorpe at 3:03 PM on July 10


I've seen that sentiment echoed on Twitter, octothorpe:
Fun fact: Spider-Man 2 was released 7 years before the original Thor, which means the last genuinely great Marvel superhero film was Four Thors and Seven Years Ago
posted by Pronoiac at 10:19 PM on July 10 [5 favorites]


Pffft. Winter Soldier at least deserves a 4.5, if we're grading on the genre scale.
posted by praemunire at 12:48 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


I rewatched some of Rami's first Spiderman, and I need to retract or at least moderate that earlier statement. A lot of the issues I was thinking of aren't as bad as I remembered from the last time I rewatched it. (I remembered the scene with Osborne at dinner being much clumsier than the similar one in the car with Vulture in Homecoming, but it's just different.) And it's very good in some ways that most MCU movies aren't. (Mary Jane shrieking, tho...) The action scenes definitely have a different style which I can see some people preferring. The script and plot are certainly much, much better than his Dr. Strange.
posted by straight at 2:28 PM on July 11


The Illuminati was basically the Citadel/the Council of Ricks

🤓 The Transdimensional Council of Ricks (Rick & Morty s1e10, 2014) was basically the Interdimensional Council of Reeds (Fantastic Four #571, 2009).
The Illuminati were basically the Illuminati (various Avengers and Avengers-adjacent comics, starting in 2005).
posted by D.Billy at 6:54 AM on July 17


This movie needed to be better than the dumb comics where Wanda becomes a villain.

Oh, this movie was much better than the dumb comics where Wanda becomes a villain, if you're referring to Avengers: Disassembled, which was horrible--in fact, that was the beginning of my becoming disillusioned with Brian Michael Bendis' work (except for his Ultimate Spider-Man, which remained strong until the end). A:D was so bad that it was the subject of a pisstake from within Marvel itself, GLA: Misassembled, which also made fun of DC's similarly bad and wrong Identity Crisis (see John Rogers' "Womb Crazy" for a good summary and critique). At the very least, this movie had WandaVision to set it up.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:58 AM on July 17


Hated this movie. The writing was incoherent. Monks sacrifice themselves to stop Wanda, and then Wong just tells her where the book is anyway so the plot can move along. They throw away all of Wanda's complexity and interpersonal relationships to make her sole motivation motherhood. The multiverse concept totally wasted. America reduced to a macguffin who stands around gawking for 99% of the movie. Hamfisted exposition at every possible opportunity. The camera lingers on some bizarrely mean-spirited deaths of otherwise likeable heroes. Marvel once again substitutes snark for any other character trait. Bleh.
posted by Emily's Fist at 11:16 AM on July 18


I kind of wonder how this movie was for people who didn't see WandaVision. Better? Worse? More confusing?

Just watched it last night, after signing up for Disney+ just a day or so ago; the kids wanted to see it right away and had no patience for Dad suggesting that Wandavision might be important to see first, having a vague sense of what happened on that show.

It wasn't too confusing: I think they did a good job of making it clear that Wanda had made her own little reality for a bit with kids, and the fact that dreams were visions of alternate realities, made it clear that somewhere out there her kids were alive. That being said, I kind of feel that the face-turn happened too fast - I was really shocked that it was clear that Wanda/Scarlet Witch was the antagonist pretty much from the moment she shows up. I expected some more development on that front - even as a treacherous means of getting close to America.

The movie felt pretty much by the numbers to me - nothing too surprising, once the players were set and the stakes made clear. Strange's conflict with himself is essential the same one that Wanda is having, and that could have been leveraged better. Maybe by giving them some scenes together where they aren't throwing CGI at each other? America felt like there might be an actual character there, if she was given time to develop. Wong is always good to see. The whole movie felt like a series of "curse your sudden, but inevitable, betrayal" pieces as pretty much everyone Strange goes to turns on him during his journey, and I appreciate that the conclusion of the movie is Strange, America, and Wanda all coming to their own self-realizations - but because this is the MCU, that has to happen amidst a giant battle.

The thing I found most interesting with this movie is that I sympathized with Wanda a great deal - not that I liked her plan, but that I found her very understandable. She did blow a hole through the head of the man she loved, and it did make no difference to anything in the end, and nobody seems to have given a crap about her. Strange has fucked about with the multiverse, time, and reality, and he never seems to face any consequences for it. Was kind of hoping the Illuminati were going to call him on the carpet for his shenanigans in No Way Home. Back to Wanda, I was really wondering if the solution wasn't to find her a universe where her children exist but that universe's copy of her has died. Surely that exists somewhere, right? But they had to make her all "big evil" and need to steal America's powers so that she could safeguard her children for all time, from all threats. I just think this movie could have done with a Wanda and a Strange both grappling with their desires for a different life/different outcomes, helping America against a different foe determined to steal her powers, and both of them being tempted by possibilities in other universes, without needing to turn Wanda into "vengeful angry mother".

Not being a Marvel reader, nor having seen Wandavision, I was left with some questions/observations:

-As they prepare for the first confrontation, Wong talks about the Scarlet Witch as a being who sounded separate from Wanda. Is that the case?
-What was up with the first 'verse where Strange & America stop - the one where you go on red (was that Earth - 838? I forget) and all the hats? I need answers about that world. Is it ruled by the haberdashers? Could it be the location of a cross-over with DC and the Mad Hatter?
-I thought Reed Richards was supposed to be the smartest man in the universe. He seemed very dumb in this movie. Is he more book smart, and not really street smart? Lacks emotional intelligence? Seeing him turned into spaghetti was satisfying, just because he was arrogant and idiotic.
-Was not happy to see Captain Carter go out like that. (I did see the What If for Captain Carter).
-So, we have the Earth 838 Captain Marvel get killed by a giant statue falling on her? That just seems kind of...weak.
-the general concern I have about the MCU, and have had since Captain Marvel, is the level of power creep happening for both villains and heroes. Captain Marvel seems like she can do pretty much anything (at least not involving magic). Thanos took out half the universe, and it took everyone to get him and his army in the end. Scarlet Witch can change reality. America can jump between universes. Now we have universes colliding with each other, multiple versions of each character, and more powerful beings being introduced left and right, disasters at universe scale level...at some point, it becomes too ludicrous, and the more general audience (by which I mean me, not a big comics reader, who doesn't know all the lore and is here mostly for a good story, characters I care about, and fun) is going to stop going. I guess what I'm saying is, I would still like a movie or a series set during the 5 year gap between the destruction of the Stones and the start of the time travel hijinks, just to see what happened and the heroes being stuck in smaller scale stories of rebuilding and grief and dealing with the fallout of failure. Maybe something where the stakes aren't at the genocide of trillions? (I think that's part of why I enjoyed No Way Home a great deal).

Anyways.
posted by nubs at 11:52 AM on July 19


In comic books, "World's Smartest" is a superpower that allows the character to have the best and most powerful gadgets and be the one who frowns at a screen and then explains what's going on.

Sometimes it means they can analyze a situation and do something impossible based on that knowledge, like know exactly where to cut a tree to make it fall on the bad guy. But it's unusual for World's Smartest to mean they're exceptionally good at understanding people and predicting what they will do.

Figuring out the villain's plan and coming up with a clever way to thwart it is a superpower that makes you a writer. Writers who have that power use it in whatever they're writing. When Captain America comes up with a brilliant plan, that just makes it a cool story. But in a story about Reed Richards they attribute the brilliant plan to him being the World's Smartest.

Similarly, if there's a robot brain to be hacked, the World's Smartest character will do it. But you could have the exact same situation in another story and it would just be the smartest character on the team who is able to do whatever needs hacking.
posted by straight at 3:59 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


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