Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Dr. Strange and the movie leaving madness

My daughter summed up my feelings about Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness when the credits rolled and she proclaimed "that was dumb." I felt let down and betrayed. For the past month we had overloaded on Marvel movies getting my younger two kids caught up so this could be their first MCU movie to watch in a theater. The trailers looked good, Spider Man No Way Home exceeded expectations, and I walked into the theater expecting to share something special with my children. I got this instead:

I have learned a bit of context in the week and a half since watching the film. My position has softened a bit. Elizabeth Olsen felt like the MCU had cost her too many opportunities and wanted out. The Scarlet Witch from the comics actually goes full crazy. The Darkhold has a rich history of corrupting users. Fans eager to see a "Marvel horror movie" looked to see Sam Raimi unleashed on the screen. If I had thought through it a bit more maybe I could have seen this coming, but I did not. 

My biggest complaint came from the treatment of Wanda. Instead of building off what she "learned" in WandaVision, this movie picks up like that series did not even happen (other than her two kids being the impetus for the entire plot). With little or no transition, she goes from triumphant and repentant hero to villain worse than Thanos. It felt a little tone deaf to take one of the few female Avengers still alive and make her the antagonist. Not just tone deaf: it sounded like a dog whistle to incels. 

I had other qualms besides Wanda's arc. The Illuminati seemed superfluously stupid. This group supposedly defeated Thanos, but then couldn't even go a few rounds with the Scarlet Witch? Reed Richards is the smartest man alive, but he doesn't realize he's hopelessly outgunned? Wanda goes insane using the Darkhold and becomes the bad guy, but Dr. Strange suffers only a weird growth in his forehead and no other consequences? The Wanda variant is not able to fight back and just lets her body get used? For that matter, Wanda and Xavier can't overcome the Darkhold together? 

I think a better exposition and maybe a clearer redemption may have helped with Wanda's story, but the movie would still be a mess. This is easily my least favorite Marvel show or movie so far. I'm saying this is even worse that Fantastic 4. I left wishing I had saved my "first Marvel movie with all my kids" token for Thor