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 (85 comments total) 5 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 [4 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 [5 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 [3 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 [3 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 [2 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 [2 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 [4 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 [9 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 [2 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 [1 favorite]

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 [5 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

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 [9 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 [1 favorite]

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 [5 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

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 [1 favorite]

(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 [2 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 [2 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 [4 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 [4 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 [9 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

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 [2 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 [11 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 [2 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 [3 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 [8 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 [9 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 [3 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 [2 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

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 [5 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 [1 favorite]

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 [4 favorites]

Then the movie would have been 20 minutes long.
posted by octothorpe at 11:38 AM on May 10 [2 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 [3 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 [1 favorite]

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

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 [1 favorite]

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

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 [3 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 [1 favorite]

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

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 AU Wanda?
posted by praemunire at 10:49 PM on May 14 [3 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 [1 favorite]

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 [4 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 [1 favorite]

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 [2 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 [1 favorite]

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

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 [2 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

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