Dr. Strange 2: In the Multiverse of Madness is kinda controversial. Shocking, I know. A movie that basically requires an encyclopedic knowledge to follow. And, of course, a movie that’s more a sequel to a TV miniseries than the actual first Dr. Strange. A lot of people hated this thing, which naturally means I enjoyed it way more than everyone else.
I gave it 3.5 stars! On my first watch, at least. Marvel Cinematic Universe movies tend to drop for me on rewatches, so we’ll see.
The main thing that makes me really enjoy this movie? The gleeful, inaccessible goofiness of it all. Yeah, I disliked WandaVision in the end, so making a direct continuation annoyed me at first… but the movie basically ignores that whole show. It’s just an excuse for crazy madness. A movie for people who have been a part of this mega-franchise for almost fifteen years, willingly or out of obligation. Yeah, Scarlet Witch is suddenly a villain hamming it up, and it takes a fucking tome of lore to explain any of it. What’s it to you?
Obviously, I say this as a comic book fan. I devoured the Ultimate Marvel line and the mid-00s Marvel comic events as a teen, so convoluted lore is totally my thing. In fact, Ultimate Marvel is honestly a good model for how the MCU has developed recently. They’re expanding further and further into obscure realms, with most of the big stuff already adapted. And what was once a pretty concise, tightly plotted continuity is now a sprawling mess just as crazy as good old 616.
Ten years ago, we had Avengers. That famous orbital shot, some evil aliens, and five cool superheroes. Today, we have a movie that bounces between a half dozen universes and features a cool few dozen superheroes without blinking. Characters who appeared in other franchises, characters who appeared in animated spinoffs… It’s great. And, to some, probably terrible.
The movie rocks, and to me all this nonsense makes it even better.
How Did Dr. Strange 2 Get Here?
It’s not like this movie is perfect by any means; its character arcs are whatever, and America Chavez barely exists. It follows the MCU formula pretty closely and is a bit too quippy sometimes. But thanks to continuity nonsense, and thanks to Sam Raimi’s actual directorial style shining through, it has so much fun!
It’s no wonder it got mixed reviews. Dr. Strange 2 has as much in common with Spider-Man 3’s overstuffed nonsense as it does our consistently fun MCU romps. The movie is just funny enough in the “wrong” ways, aka the non-Whedon-esque detached irony ways, that it was always going to attracted anger.
Also, the movie has a strong focus on a female antagonist and has major LGBTQ+ elements. Not gonna say anything beyond that…
After Black Widow sucked and Eternals majorly disappointed, MCU is a lot down from where it was in 2019. Dr. Strange 2 made a bunch of money, but its mixed reception might be a sign that franchise fatigue is finally setting in a bit. I’m baffled it took this long; Avengers Endgame was almost completely impenetrable without watching the whole series beforehand! But it looks like it’s finally starting to set in a little.
Will this eventually mean some MCU movies start flopping and the continuity-heavy stuff gets relegated to Disney+, like Star Wars? Maybe. For now, though, it means that we can get movies like Dr. Strange 2, where nonsensical, utterly silly comic book madness reigns supreme.
Take us back to the ridiculous comics of yore, and give that stuff $200 million budgets. This is exactly what I want!
2 thoughts on “Dr. Strange 2: My Teenage Dreams Fulfilled”
Franchise fatigue has been finally setting in for like five years now.
I get where you’re coming from. Coming from the comics, I would be used to the whole confusing mess of continuity. One reason I didn’t mind Iron Man 2, even though one of the big complaints about it at the time was that it was half Iron Man sequel, half Avengers prequel, and even that much continuity juggling was annoying to some at the time.
At the same time, I’m one of those who would have been happy keeping the MCU as just the Avengers and maybe the Guardians, and I stopped following Marvel after Endgame. I like that they are willing to try different things, at least.
Hopefully the MCU becomes big and diverse enough that people no longer feel “required” to watch almost all of it just to keep up. It’s exhausting that way even with just 3-4 movies a year, let alone that many movies plus a billion TV shows.