Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness accomplishes, it’s putting the final nail in the coffin of the idea that directors aren’t allowed to put their distinct stylistic stamps on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Filmmakers like James Gunn, Taika Waititi, and Chloe Zhao all offered their respective MCU movies their quintessential style, of course, but there’s something about this newest chapter that feels like it’s screaming that these films are becoming the rule, not the exception. From top to bottom — and for better and for worse — Multiverse of Madness is a Sam Raimi movie through and through.
MCU detractors will call out an overall same-ness across the respective phases. While that can be true, especially prior to the introduction of more distinct-feeling films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok, it also offers a universal watchability for casual audiences. It’s great for studio pocketbooks, but it doesn’t always make for the most compelling movie-going experience. This is all mostly to say that the newest Doctor Strange outing will, like the rest of the MCU, have its detractors, but you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone critiquing the film because they were bored by it.
Director Sam Raimi’s full range of weirdness and spookiness is on full display from start to finish here. Whether it’s through the creatures, Raimi-specific cameos, or just the vibe, fans familiar with his filmography are going to be able to call out plenty of moments bearing Raimi’s signature.
Most times, that signature works. But, between some scenes that are weird for the sake of being weird and others that find themselves hobbled by screenwriter Michael Waldron’s sometimes hokey dialogue, even the biggest of Raimi fans may find themselves quirking an eyebrow from time to time. Still, the movie works far more than it doesn’t.