Tyler Robertson

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is an Evil Dead sequel set in the MCU, change my mind

Friday, June 3, 2022

My birthday happens to fall at the end of the Platinum Jubilee weekend, so I've been taking advantage of the extra bank holiday (thanks, Lizzie!) to watch more movies. Today, that was Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness — the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that fans have actively recommended against seeing on the big screen.

Without spoiling anything, I can see where the warnings were coming from, and they were well-founded: from the jump, MOM reads like an injured animal, desperately scrambling away from the oncoming predator that is the MCU style. It begins at a break-neck speed, and keeps the pedal firmly against the floor for the full two-hour runtime, unable to pause for the triumphant or expository moments in the way the Russo or Favreau films have. If you're excited for the next installment in the Marvel franchise you've seen so far, maybe skip this one, because it doesn't feel like an MCU movie. To the point where as the credits rolled, a 12-year-old in the seat in front of me leaned over to his friend and loudly whispered, "What the actual fuck was that?"

What it is, is a Sam Raimi movie, and I loved it for that.

If you're like that 12-year-old, or maybe you are a 12-year-old, and you're wondering what to make of this: instead of watching WandaVision, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and the previous Doctor Strange before seeing MOM, go watch Evil Dead 2. Then reimagine that script with Marvel characters, and you won't be far off from what you're about to watch.

All of the hallmarks of a Raimi movie are there: the winks and fourth-wall breaks, the monster cam, the macabre levity, the corny editing choices, and the trust that the audience will be able to keep up. We even get a Bruce Campbell cameo (if you're an Evil Dead fan, you should stick around to the very end of the credits).

Meanwhile, the script manages to pack in even more than the average amount of Marvel fan service, and Raimi pushes the film along like it's all normal. "Of course that character is here," it says, "Anyway, now here's something else." I'm reminded of Raimi's Spider-Man's refusal to explain how the webs worked—they just did, and we moved on. There are dozens of those moments in MOM, and Raimi leaves no time to ask questions before the next one—they just work, and we move on.

It's those tiny moments that made me love the movie. I'm going to avoid spoilers for now, because I know that sours things for some people, but if you enjoyed any of the Evil Dead films, just know that I think it's worth your time.

(Okay, if you really want a spoiler there's this one moment where Strange possesses the corpse of an alternate version of him, then makes a cloak out of the souls of the damned and it's some hot D&D bullshit garbage that plays so fucking well on the screen.)