Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness disappoints as a standalone film

Caroline Scharf

Adding to the extensive Marvel Universe, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” directed by Sam Raimi was released on May 6, 2022. While generally entertaining, the newest Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie can often feel poorly edited and is hard to enjoy as a standalone film. The movie overall engrossed the viewer in the absurdity of the multiverse, but quickly leaves them confused if they are not caught up on each installment of the MCU since the release of the first Doctor Strange film in 2016.

Photo Courtesy of Disney

Following the titular character Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), also known by his real name Stephen Strange, the movie’s plot centers his escapades with the teenage America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) who is evading demons who want to capture her in order to take her ability to travel the multiverse (a group of multiple universes). Together, America and Doctor Strange must escape these beings all while facing Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olson) and a threat that could potentially endanger the entire multiverse. 


What really stands out about the movie is the concept and the acting of some of its main cast. The main plot is aptly strange and when explored in depth is a very interesting dive into what it would be like to see alternate versions of yourself. Raimi does a great job of presenting a plethora ofdifferent universes that make the movie’s universe seem extremely expansive. As a viewer, it is engaging to watch the main characters go through new worlds, like an alternate version of New York or a wasteland of multiple universes. Additionally, some of the actors, like Elizabeth Olson, give a great performance filled with complex emotion that overall heightens the stakes of the movie. While there are some cringey

Infographic by Caroline Scharf

lines thrown in there such as when Doctor Strange brings up the threat of the Illuminati, most of the cast puts in the work to deliver a meaningful performance.

The movie’s plot is, in theory, an interesting concept that if done well could be extremely entertaining and cohesive. However, for much of the film, it feels as if the major plot points are being sped through with a new interesting character or plot device being added at rapid pace to keep the audience’s attention. This rapid pace is also one of the most glaring issues of the movie: theassumption of knowledge that the viewer has.

 The main issue the film runs into is that it is structured in a way that assumes that every audience member will be able to understand the necessary background information and characters introduced prior to watching the movie. While there are some major plot points that are introduced well, and don’t require binge watching all the MCU films and Disney Plus shows, many characters and vital plot points are reliant on the audience’s prior commitment to watching MCU content. Add in some editing and transition choices that are lackluster, and sometimes even awkwardly put in, and the movie can make you feel not fully invested in the story. 

Photo Courtesy of Disney

The addition of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness highlights the new trend of MCU movies, which is to pivot away from standalone stories and rather build towards the next big overarching plotline. While dealing with a captivating plot, the movie can often feel like it’s trying to please hardcore MCU fans while alienating some audience members who are not as familiar with the universe that has been established. If you are heavily invested in the MCU I’d recommend checking it out, however, if you’re just looking for a new flick, skip out on this one.