Since Marvel started Phase 4 with Wandavision, it has switched to a different storyline. In the process leading up to Endgame, the heroes were trying to save the day and the planet by fighting against the main villain every time. However, Marvel must have thought that the story of saving the day from the main villain would be a cliché after 17 years. Therefore they preferred to add many villains and a little bit of a populist approach by showing different variants of the characters that the audience fell in love with for 17 years. In the process leading up to Endgame, everything started with Loki’s invasion of New York and drifted towards Thanos’ invasion. In fact, these two events continue to be mentioned as a milestone in all movies and TV series. However, the idea of Multi-Verse ensured that the stories, from now on, won’t progress towards an inevitable final. They ensured the audience with an opportunity to give them all kinds of variants they were looking for. As I mentioned in my previous articles, it’s actually a genius idea that will save Marvel’s next few years. The audience will have the chance to see every character they have loved for 17 years and the different Hollywood actors and actresses they love in various costumes. Spider-Man kicked off this idea of the multi-verse. On the other hand, Doctor Strange is like a roadmap that shows us how the subject will work. Soon, in the coming years, we will start to watch the results of this multi-verse idea, the “conflicts” as it is called in the movie.
Let’s talk about the movie first… Strange sees the girl from his dreams being chased down the street by a giant-eyed octopus and rescues her in a hardcore fashion worthy of the DC universe. The girl he saved is America Chavez. A young girl who can travel between parallel universes but can’t use her power as she wants yet. We see that someone is waiting to use this game-changer ability that she cannot use: Wanda, aka Scarlet Witch. Wanda, who wants to move to a parallel universe where her children are alive, is ready to destroy everything in her path to take over America Chavez.
There are 2 things Marvel wants to do in Phase 4. The first is to have an unlimited number of universes with Multi-Verse and be as crazy as they want. This idea has both severe advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is, considering that there are millions of different parallel universes, they can choose any story they want from anywhere. So we see can see Peggy Carter as Captain America or John Krasinski as Mr. Fantastic and more of them like in the next movies. If they use these countless options correctly, it is obvious that they will satisfy the audience, as we experienced in Spider-Man. However, as in What If, if they try to make Black Panther out of Starlord, which has no value, they will face massive criticism. In other words, Marvel, which now has millions of universe options, needs to make the right choices.
The second thing they want to do is highlight characters that weren’t taken seriously in the first 3 phases. We watched the TV series and movies of all the characters in turn. Most of us have been waiting for Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Wanda’s solo projects. Wanda, in particular, was the most anticipated of them all. Because, in the Avengers team, perhaps the most dangerous among them in terms of power was always Wanda. However, she always lagged behind Cap, Iron Man, and Thor. But now, Marvel is drawing a brand new roadmap by focusing on other characters. While doing this, Marvel takes its strength from the unlimited story space.
Another prominent subject in the movie that needs to be discussed is the sharp tone change. Marvel apparently acknowledges that its followers have grown with it. So they shifted their childish tone to a sharper, sometimes eerie, and more similar to our brutal reality. Although it is impossible to call this movie a horror movie, it is easy to see that it has horror elements. The jump-scare scenes are thriving, and the fictional approach is thematically darker. This change of tone shows me that while Marvel will still keep its pleasant side, it will focus on the dark inner world of the characters, a little more like Watchmen, and increase the brutality. Many scenes in the movie, such as the beating of the ice-cream seller, stabbing the octopus with a street lamp, the tortures, and the burning alive, are the harbingers of this new tone.
Before we get to the movie’s troubles, let’s get to the last praiseworthy part, maybe even the most. Visual design and shootings were delightful. Sam Raimi’s touch is evident in every second of the movie. Especially when the film is watched in IMAX, it gives you dizziness. I’m not just saying metaphorically; it’s literally dizzying. Some moments made me nauseous. If Marvel wants to make a difference in its emerging universe, they should continue to make movies like Eternals and Doctor Strange and work with names like Chloe Zhao and Sam Raimi. Thus, a more aesthetic and artistic approach will be added to the films, and all films will be visually separated from each other due to their styles. To reinforce what I said: Eternals is a Marvel movie, Doctor Strange is also a Marvel movie, and of course, Black Widow is a Marvel movie, but they all have a very different approach.
Yes, visually and on the idea side, Doctor Strange is a terrific movie. But the film also has some problems in terms of storyline. First of all, when you watch the movie, it is evident that the film is cut. After reading about the film, I saw that 30 minutes were cut from the movie. The story has trouble filling inside the characters and events; everything develops so fast. Even if it doesn’t grin seriously, you will notice the lack of spice. This problem may be due to the reduction of the movie to 2 hours. Likewise, we encounter another disadvantage of the Multi-Verse idea. Marvel has always tried to stay logical in the process of coming to Endgame. Even though it is a fantastic universe, it was not exaggerated. But in Doctor Strange, we see that we are moving away from this logical approach. We encounter much more absurd, surrealist, dreamlike, and exaggerated moments. But we will have to get used to this surrealism because we will soon see more interesting ones than zombie Strange.
Bottom line… Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is visually stunning. The idea it promises is exciting. It also has a populist structure that plays to its audience. However, there are some problems with the story. If we had watched the missing 30 minutes, maybe I wouldn’t be thinking that way. Everything moves so fast; the absurdities and the changing tone are not easy to digest. Despite this, it is a delightful movie to watch, wholly dizzying and impressive. It will most likely be the milestone of Phase 4’s like the invasion of New York. After that, we will move towards a much sharper, frightening, absurd universe. With the inclusion of Kang and the “same characters” from other parallel universes in the story, a much more satisfying and action-oriented 10 years await us.
Last words. When Wanda looked into the camera, I believe that it was a message to us that told: “You are just another universe in multi-verse, and I see you.”
Cast & Crew
director: Sam Raimi
writers: Michael Waldron
starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Rachel McAdams
USA | 2022 | 126 MINUTES |