Marvel is fully in gear with their fourth phase and their latest offering Dr. Strange: The Multiverse of Madness. You can read BSO’s original review of the film here, but this article is going to take a look at what worked in the film and what didn’t work, allowing Marvel to take bits and parts of what worked for their future films. The biggest problem the film had was that the writing seemed to take a back seat to the horror aspects.
Director Sam Raimi is a noted horror expert and the reason he was brought on to finish the Dr. Strange was because of his horror chops, so when they announced Loki writer Michael Waldron as the writer for the film, it seemed like it was in great hands. But whatever Waldron was able to do with Loki, he was unable to do with Dr. Strange. Perhaps this was because he was taking over from C. Robert Cargill as the original writer and Scott Derrickson as the original director and didn’t have the time to do the necessary rewrites, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know for sure. But if you ask me, Marvel’s films struggle whenever there seems to be a change in director midway through production.
So, what were some of the film’s struggles with writing? Well, one noted example I like to bring up is when Strange confronts Wanda and she eventually drops the act, showing us that she’s been corrupted. In their discussion, Strange asks Wanda why she’s willing to harm a child and Wanda shuts him down, saying that she isn’t a child at all. Ten minutes later, when Wanda shows up and attacks Kamer-Taj, she screams at Strange that “he’s doing all of this for a child he doesn’t even know.” The writing couldn’t even stay consistent to itself and these examples were littered throughout the film.
Some of the more ridiculous lines from this film included announcing what Black Bolt was going to do to Scarlet Witch before he could do so, so that Wanda could shut his mouth for him without even having to lift a finger. We also have the moment when Strange told Wanda “she was going to have to do more to kill him than kill him” in that moment. The story’s writings also explicitly went against what Raimi and Kevin Feige said in the lead up to this film that “Wanda won’t be the outright villain of this film” and that TV shows wouldn’t be required viewing.
If people hadn’t seen WandaVision and showed up for Multiverse of Madness, folks might be wondering what the hell happened to Wanda. One second she was a hero and now she’s a villain. No lead up, no drama, just Wanda being a villain. If you had watched WandaVision, it was still rather odd to see Wanda being a villain right from the outset. It felt like the film failed Wanda as a character, and that’s a sentiment others have echoed.
But at the same time, Wanda was a damn good villain. Holy hell. She absolutely wrecked house. It was one of the coolest things to see in a film, even if I felt that the Illuminati was completely wasted by having her run roughshod over them like they were the West Coast Avengers. I mean, she made Black Bolt blow himself up. She turned Reed Richards into pasta. She snapped Professor X’s neck like she was “snap[ing] into a Slim Jim.” She crushed Captain Marvel. She didn’t even waste her time with Mordo and she cut Captain Carter in half.
If we’re being honest, this is the type of stuff we should’ve seen from Thanos and the Black Order in Endgame and Infinity War. This is why I think that they should keep stuff like this in the films. Anyone who has ever read Marvel for any length of time has probably also read an “[X] Kills the Marvel Universe” story. They’re extremely popular for a reason and this film feels like it had a “Wanda Kills the Marvel Universe” vibe and we need more of that. Keep the good stuff, get rid of the bad.
Neither WandaVision nor Doctor Strange: The Multiverse of Madness were horrible experiences. They struggled in several key areas, but they took chances where other Marvel films played it safe. I feel pretty confident that this film will view differently as the Phases progress and more stories are borne out of these events. I feel pretty confident in the fact that this film struggled because it had several key changes mid-production, which probably led to some of the film’s disjointed feelings. But even with all of these issues, I also feel pretty confident that there was enough good here to make it worth our while going forward.
Kane Webb covers Marvel for BSO and The Marvel Report. He also covers the USC Trojans for Athlon Sports. He is an entertainment journalist and you can follow him for more on Twitter: @FightOnTwist.