A comparative, spoiler-free review of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” 


Marvel Studios

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was released on May 6, 2022.

Lily Ha and Sanchali Pandey

To honor the concept of a multiverse, seven writers from four different schools decided to collaborate on this review. You can read from the Stampede, the North Star, and the Central Times.


Marvel’s newest phase four film, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” has finally hit theaters after months of being delayed. Including Doctor Strange, phase four films and TV shows have been and continue to be highly anticipated by fans for their exhilarating plotlines and exciting new characters. But is phase four living up to its high expectations by fans? Or is it crumbling under the pressure? 

“Multiverse of Madness” centers around Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) as he travels and discovers more about the multiverse. With the aid of Wong (Benedict Wong), America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) and Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), Strange fights off dangerous threats to the fate of the Multiverse. Without revealing plot points, we will dive into our thoughts on how “Multiverse of Madness” lived up to phase four’s expectations or fell short of the bar. 


The Stampede: Bela Sanchez

It is clear that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is trying to make phase four stand out, and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” does absolutely that. It is not the best film of phase four, but it does prepare Marvel fans for the new direction Marvel Studios is heading in. 

Phase four has left many fans feeling very divided and this movie is no exception. The only thing I can recommend is to not go in with any expectations

I believe that the movie could have been way stronger if it was a Scarlet Witch movie instead of a Doctor Strange movie. The film feels like a sequel to “WandaVision” with Wanda spending the entire movie trying to find her kids. Audiences get to see how strong Wanda has truly become after the events of “WandaVision.” Speaking of a new direction, America Chavez was introduced. While I enjoyed Xochitl Gomez’s portrayal, she often seemed more like a plot device to speed up the movie rather than an actual character.

“Multiverse of Madness” could have done better, but Marvel writers are showing fans of the MCU that they are not afraid to take risks and that they are open to change. The director, Sam Raimi, was given creative control and brought an eerie vibe to the film that sometimes put me on the edge of my seat, but I still wanted more from the movie. Overall, I am optimistic about the change Marvel writers are going to bring to future projects because they are clearly not scared of holding back.


The Stampede: Aidan Renteria 

With Director Sam Raimi’s “Multiverse of Madness” being the newest addition to the ever-growing MCU, I was super excited to see where Doctor Strange was heading in his newest adventure. The first “Doctor Strange” was a fun ride and one of the stronger origin story motion pictures in the MCU, so this had to be even grander with more danger, characters, and universes. “Multiverse of Madness” adds to the overall MCU, bringing in the danger of multiple universes to Doctor Strange. 

This movie is different from a typical MCU movie, but really a lot of Marvel’s phase four projects have been unlike their past filmography. Raimi is known for his strange and horror filmmaking and he brings that to this movie. His dutch shots of creepy perspectives are full of the Raimi style from his past films such as “The Evil Dead” and “Spider-Man” trilogies. The way this movie looks is also fantastic. It was one of the most unique-looking superhero films brought to screen, really feeling like the comics that Strange was introduced in back in the 60s. Raimi did the best he could to bring about a great Doctor Strange story to the screen. 

The characters within “Multiverse of Madness” were fun, but the inclusion of too many characters held the story back a bit. Benedict Cumberbatch is great once again in this movie, as he is a good Doctor Strange. Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch is also very well done, with her performance being the strongest in the picture. Both characters already have a past, so fans can build their knowledge of what is happening, but not all the characters have the luxury of having their own prior movie or TV show. The strongest parts in “Multiverse of Madness” were the ones with Strange and Maximoff.

Everyone else in this movie felt a little lackluster. America Chavez, portrayed by Xochitl Gomez, felt depthless with her only purpose being a gateway to other dimensions. I wish we got to go more in-depth with who America Chavez is and where she came from to better understand her intentions. 

The cameos in the movie were insane though. As a Marvel fan, when they introduced the Illuminati and all the members that resided within it, everyone in the theater began to cheer or scream, myself included. All the cameos were great, including the inclusion of Raimi’s friend Bruce Campbell, Ash Williams himself. 

Raimi’s films have always been a pleasure to watch, especially “Evil Dead II” and “Spider-Man 2,” but this film felt like him, yet did not. It being an MCU film caused reshoots and adjustments to his true vision to better fit the overall universe. Due to this, “Multiverse of Madness” felt confusing, not knowing where to go and with way too much happening for the two-hour run time. What they had was fun and engaging to the everyday Marvel fan, but it left me with more questions than answers. “Multiverse of Madness” is a unique film within the MCU with good ideas, which makes it a seven out of 10. Raimi did what he could with the story provided and I respect him for taking the project upon himself. Doctor Strange will return and where Marvel will take him next is unknown in the grand scheme of the MULTIVERSE.


The Echo: Lily Ha

Phase four introduced a number of new characters from its shows on the streaming service Disney+, as well as the characters we have always loved. Regardless of starting fresh and on a new chapter last year, Marvel Studios never failed to disappoint. Therefore, with the first film scoring 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and many fans waiting desperately for the sequel,  “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” was the Marvel movie everyone was eager for.

Despite it being a difficult film to tackle, Director Sam Raimi, as well as the cast and crew for “Multiverse of Madness,” took on the challenge. The special effects were very well done, as well as the acting for returning Marvel Avengers actors Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the titular character, and Elizabeth Olsen, who plays Wanda, as well as newcomer Xochitl Gomez, who plays America Chavez. There was also a creative aspect of fear in the movie, with a big part of the film focusing on dark magic. 

However, the plot seemed to have too much on its plate, and even the MCU could not handle all of it. Although I liked how Wanda’s pain was a direct follow up to her adventures in Westview in the series “WandaVision,” the sequencing did not feel very natural, and at times rushed in order to fit in as much as possible.

Nevertheless, like all entertainment Marvel Studios puts out, “Multiverse of Madness” was very enjoyable and I was on the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen next. Though I had high expectations, the movie did not crush them, and I left the theater feeling satisfied. I was overjoyed to have this feeling of anticipation back while sitting there, happily back at the movies once again.


The Echo: Sanchali Pandey

Every Marvel movie made now cannot be compared to “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” with its extreme fan-servicing and countless cameos. If you watch “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” without extravagant expectations, then you probably will like it. After all, the plot is interesting and the acting is refreshing. With the ever-growing number of characters and storylines, the newest addition to the MCU’s list of endeavors requires you to walk into the theater already has a good amount of knowledge of the ongoings in the Marvel world. While not being as accessible as some of Marvel’s earlier films were, “Multiverse of Madness” still manages to deliver a compelling storyline, although it is definitely a little messy. 


The North Star: Grace Ainger

Phase four itself has been defined as “different.” Films full of new and exciting elements and the introduction of Disney+ TV shows have created a new and different Marvel experience than we’ve ever experienced before. “Multiverse of Madness” is no exception and contributes greatly to the strong success of phase four. Though expectations were wildly high for “Multiverse of Madness,” its fast-paced plotline, low exposition and the use of Wanda’s character led to an exciting, action-packed, different movie that exceeded my expectations.

“Multiverse of Madness” is very fast-paced and with a smaller runtime than a typical Marvel movie, many felt the plotline was too rushed. I thought it was perfect. Initial exposition that would normally explain the background information and events of the film was cut allowing plenty of time to dive into the root and central problem of the story. I was completely immersed in the film with every scene having a clear purpose and connection to the overall story. The movie would have lacked strength and impact if it had slowed down any further. The protagonists and the audience needed to be kept on their toes, constantly wondering what was coming next.

Additionally, how Wanda Maximoff fit into the story of “Multiverse of Madness” contributed greatly to the film’s overall success. In the movie, Wanda is the most compelling aspect of the movie with her complex and emotional storyline complemented by Elizabeth Olsen’s stunning acting. Without revealing anything about her place in the movie, her character kept the audience constantly invested and empathic toward her situation. In a movie supposedly centered around Doctor Strange, the Scarlet Witch stole the screen time and time again.

In the end, “Multiverse of Madness” was an action-packed, non-stop movie that provided insight into Wanda’s character and left me excited for what else is to come in phase four. Though the movie requires lots of prior knowledge of the MCU’s multiversal projects, it’s an enjoyable movie that supports and meets the success and high expectations of phase four.


The North Star: Zea Karmadi

Although this may be a rather controversial (re: unpopular) opinion, it must be said: “Multiverse of Madness” was just okay, but that is okay, too. The MCU franchise will hardly suffer for having a movie that is not as loud-spoken as some of its more recent works, like “Multiverse of Madness” multiversal movie sibling, “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” 

In the grander scheme of the phase four picture, “Multiverse of Madness” performance actually works to reveal some of the MCU’s recent marketing flaws. Upon closer introspection, we can also get into why phase four is actually falling a bit flat compared to its predecessor, the Infinity Saga, which consisted of Phases One, Two, and Three. Note that this is a spoiler-free review, and it can remain a spoiler-free review because, in the end, Marvel revealed too much in the trailers. 

From foreshadowing to Wanda’s overarching role (we still support women’s rights and/or wrongs in this household) to the presence of Marvel comics’ Illuminati to Captain Carter, “Multiverse of Madness” trailers actually revealed all of the biggest plot twists and cameos before you even step foot into the theater. Since we rightfully live with the established notion that trailers are supposed to just be a glimpse of what you’ll get from the movie itself, expectations were high – we expected to see more than what we already knew. 

But we did not. What you saw in the trailers was what you got. Nothing more, nothing less. 

With the movie’s runtime of just barely over two hours, though, it is actually a good thing that director Sam Raimi did not try to cram even more into the narrative. “Multiverse of Madness” is just another puzzle piece to the final image of phase four. 

But after the movie’s setup via “WandaVision,” “No Way Home,” and even “Loki,” fans are left to wonder: where exactly are we supposed to be going with this whole multiverse thing? How are all of these things supposed to come together? 

Unlike the Infinity Saga, which established rather early on that its heroes were working towards coming together to defeat Thanos as its main villain, there doesn’t seem to be a similar endgame in mind with phase four. Or at least, not one that is clear to the fans. And although “Multiverse of Madness” certainly isn’t the MCU’s worst film to date (not even close, as it was still a riveting journey to go on), it is a bit of a letdown after being held for months in the suspense that unanswered questions would finally be answered. 

Seriously, where are we going with phase four? Are we left to just ponder an infinite amount of possibilities in the infinite multiverse?


The Central Times: Gabriel Curtis

Phase four of the MCU is built around the idea of a new generation of heroes and is held to a very high expectation by most Marvel fans. Throughout this phase, we’ve seen evidence of a new wave of characters and adversaries that push the envelope and change the way viewers experience the universe that they know and love. “Multiverse of Madness” continues this trend with the introduction of America Chavez, a young hero on the cusp of understanding her power and her place in the multiverse.

As “Multiverse of Madness” bounces from one universe to another, many were left feeling disjointed and confused by the flurry of plot points and callbacks to earlier movies. In the end, it was hard to feel a sense of closure leaving the theater. For fans without an extensive knowledge of the Marvel universe, I imagine the confusion of this movie must have been beyond intense. Regardless of these setbacks, I was continuously engaged by the strong and vibrant visuals, creative story choices and numerous character cameos. “Multiverse of Madness” experienced its fair share of imperfection but is definitely a great step forward for phase four and a worthwhile watch.