Sam Raimi takes over for Scott Derrickson in this sequel to Doctor Strange. Doctor Strange has to fight against multiversal threats in an effort to protect America Chavez.
America Chavez: Played by Xochitl Gomez, America, is on the run from extra-dimensional beings who are hunting her to bring her back to Wanda so that she can take America’s powers for her own. America’s powers serve as the basis for a lot of the movie’s setting as she can travel between universes. I think despite the little she was given America does seem like a nice enough girl. I think that she is played well enough but I hope that in the future we are given a lot more into who she is and what she has been doing this whole time. I don’t think her presence in the movie skews it good or bad that is why I separated her analysis. There was some controversy about her betrayal because people wished for her to be portrayed as Afro-Latina and considering the movie made it clear that there are no other Americas out there, there is no situation where everybody could be fulfilled. I don’t think she was a big enough character to be concerned for, it was definitely giving “Save the cheerleader, save the world.” vibes.
- Wanda Maximoff:
- Despite the ongoing popularity, I have not been the biggest fan of Wanda. I think that her story is sad but considering her involvement with a Nazi group, I was not moved by her character often. I know that for a lot of people WandaVision looked into who Wanda is and what she has been through and in a way I understand feeling for her emotionally but there is definitely an aspect to her story where I feel like she does not take accountability for her actions. I know that the extent of her grief and loneliness is what led her to enslave a whole town (“Hurt people hurt people”) but that is merely a reason, not an excuse. With all that beings said I was happy they started using the earned moniker of Scarlet Witch.
- I was proud of this film for making Wanda see herself for what she has become. Her hurt and loneliness are not an excuse for hurting and killing people. I think the moment of making Wanda understand what she was doing when she saw the fear on her sons’ faces was good and I am glad that it was America who showed her what she looked like to everyone. What I’m surprised with is that Strange never thought to ask about Wanda’s other companions to maybe help, Sam, Bucky and especially Clint. Wanda is incredibly powerful and I am glad that in this movie her powers are fully realised and revered. She looks great and her costume is on point. Elizabeth Olsen always delivers and I am happy to see that she allowed herself to go this far for her character.
- Visuals and Score:
- To do a good score alongside good visuals usually never happens but to do it so well that the score feeds the visuals is a huge feat so shout out to Sam Raimi and Danny Elfman for doing that and nothing epitomises that scene more than two Doctor Strange’s fight.
- I loved the almost horror direction they went with the way Wanda looked and acted in this film. There were literal jumpscares. The blood running down Wanda’s face, the eye in the water, the hands coming out to grab America, the body dislocating to make her fit through things. With that in mind, there is body horror going on that Raimi plays well to his advantage. When Strange and America are travelling through the different universes and there is one where they are coming apart or when Strange day-walks into the dead body of one of his counterparts and is a zombie. Raimi was definitely flexing his horror influence in scenes like those. It reminds me of a similar vibe that I got from Spider-Man 2 with Doctor Octopus.
- Doctor Strange characterisation:
- I like the dry humour that Dr Strange brings to the MCU and I think that in a film like Spider-man: No Way Home, he fits right in with the kids because they were not serious in their tone. I wondered how they would follow it up though because Doctor Strange on his own with Wong can be interesting enough and the first Doctor Strange was pretty good but it was not the vibe I was getting from the trailers for this movie. I think the main issue I had with Strange this time around was that he did not exactly grow or adapt in this movie. There is an opportunity here to have multiples and multiples of different Doctor Stranges appear each different in their way teaching our Strange how to be better or at least how to defeat the enemy but you don’t really get that.
- Our Strange only ever faces one other Doctor Strange and I was severely disappointed. Having an actor who is Oscar-worthy, Benedict Cumberbatch, play a character like Doctor Strange is to use their full range to do something as quirky or villainous. Turning No Way Home on its head by having every Strange we meet whether it is 4/5 all being willing to sacrifice America except our Strange would have been a great way to show how good ours is, I also would have liked to see Strange may be dealt with the ramifications of No Way Home in some way, maybe Spider-man’s sacrifice is the reason why he cannot let this child die. He understands that children can be some of the greatest heroes and we cannot let them die. I saw a lot of talks online of people saying that that is exactly why he helped America but I just feel like it did not seem that way to me, it seemed more like we are implicitly supposed to believe that our Strange is just good. Even though he gains a third eye from using the Darkhold and we are to believe he got more powerful, the only difference between the Strange at the beginning of the film and the end is that he was able to tell Christine that he loved her BUT it was not even the correct universe’s Christine so does it really count?
- Maybe if the film explored Our Strange wanting to kill America in the beginning and through Wong’s advice and Christine he changes his mind that would have been character growth that I think would have been fulfilling. Especially if you are going to mention him making the sacrifices for them to win against Thanos at the beginning of the film.
- Illuminati: I watched What If and I watched No Way Home and I think the reason they might not have gone down the route of having multiple Strange’s show up might be because it was kind of explored anyway with the show and movie BUT the Illuminati, although great to see certain characters, was useless. Why was it useless? If characters are only introduced so that they die then it makes their existence futile. The only reason I could think of introducing them was to finally bring the idea of Mutants and the Fantastic Four to the MCU timeline. The only thought that I can have is that considering everybody on the Illuminati either does not exist, yet in our main universe, or exists in a different context (Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau or Captain Carter) the odds of seeing these characters again are almost nonexistent unless Marvel would like to announce the Fantastic Four? Cause we already got a Captain Marvel sequel in the works. That being said I love John Krasinski but isn’t he a little old for Reed Richards? Unless we are doing away with an origin story for F4?
Doctor Strange for me was a good way to say goodbye to a character like Wanda, while also allowing us to see a previous Avenger turn villain. I think the parts I disliked did not take away from the fact that the film was extremely well done and a visual spectacle, I wish we got more mirror-verse views like in No Way Home or the original Doctor Strange but I think Raimi did what he could with what he had. I wish that when the MCU is prepping to get rid of a Black character they would stop putting awful dreaded wigs on them but alas we are 2/2 now. Also, shoutout to Chiwetel Ejiofor who went from being a possible main villain to an almost cameo role in this movie. It must have been disappointing. I think this might also be a farewell to Christine Palmer AKA Rachel McAdams but we could possibly get another Night Nurse variation in the future, especially cause they didn’t use her in the Daredevil TV show.
Sam Raimi and Danny Elfman did what they needed to do but it was not enough to overcome a story that did not require much from the titular character, my only hope is that even though we are fully acknowledging Strange in the MCU we could get back to a semblance of groundedness in his story because he has other interesting things going on his sorcerer community that does not require other MCU characters to make a cameo. Maybe that makes him boring to an average passerby but it would have made this movie his own and would have shown the character growth. There are few characters we can chart their growth in the same way, the only ones I can think of are Tony Stark, Thor and Peter Parker.