Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: FSSA’s Opinion

by Brianna Almonte

Warning: Spoiler Alerts Below. The lights dim in the theater on May 6, 2022 for the release of the Doctor Strange sequel. You sit in the theater, after school, shoulder to shoulder with your friends surrounded by people of all ages. Chatter fills the room of the expectations people have for this potentially horror, action and adventure filled movie that could possibly answer any questions left after the success of Spider-Man: No Way Home.

The lights come up and you think this is one of the greatest Marvel movies you’ve ever seen while your friend to the left believes it was the least memorable Marvel movie they have seen yet. 

Gianna Werner, a senior vocal major at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA), said she felt this exact way. 

“My expectations were reasonably high, especially after finding out that it was partially categorized as a horror movie. I was expecting a lot from Marvel since that is a little out of their genre of expertise,” she said. 

Although this is so, other students such as Ian Thomas (senior film major) and Matthew MacNeal (junior vocal major) didn’t walk into the theater with many expectations. Matthew expressed this wasn’t a movie he was super excited for like the first Doctor Strange or No Way Home

The movie opens with Strange from an alternate universe and America Chavez running from a creature who we later find out is trying to steal America’s powers to shift through universes. The audience is then introduced to Wanda who we later find out is the antagonist of the movie who is trying to take America’s powers in an attempt to meet with her sons in an alternate universe. 

For some, Wanda being the antagonist was the most surprising part of the movie. Gianna and Maeve Gopeesingh (senior art major) explained that the trailer presented her as a hero in a way. Wanda had just got through an extremely traumatic experience that, afterward, implied that she would be moving to become a better person and stray further from the actions that she committed in Wanda Vision. 

“Wanda killing Doctor X in the other universe was pretty crazy and unexpected because I think I underestimated Wanda’s power a little,” Maeve stated. 

Others such as Matthew, Alexander Campos (junior instrumental major), and Ellistaire Perry (junior vocal major) were most surprised by the cameos and the unfortunate events that quickly followed. 

“Definitely when Mister Fantastic and the whole Illuminati with Professor X; when they just killed them five minutes after they came in. I think people were expecting a big reveal and for them to stay in the MCU. For them to be immediately killed off was a surprise,” Matthew said. 

Despite these students raving about the most interesting and great parts of the movie, there were also things that they believed hindered their final opinion of it as well. Alexander thought that some of the dialogue and scenes were specifically made for a certain reaction, which at times didn’t go as planned and just ended up being cringe worthy. 

“There are a lot of things I didn’t like about this movie, one thing that killed me in this movie was the God awful cringe fight dialogue. Like, I bet that when they were writing the script and decided to make Captain Carter say ‘I can do this all day’ they were expecting everyone in the theater to clap and cheer for it. Guess what? No one did, it was stupid,” he explained. 

Maeve, Gianna, Ian, and Dayven felt like the movie was missing explanations of people and things occurring in the movie. Maeve talked about how they needed more of an introduction to characters and themes, as to how the book corrupted Wanda because it was such a sudden change of character that she was so willing to kill America for her power but it explained that the book poisoned her mind. Gianna stated that the new characters that were introduced from the multiverse (the illuminati), felt very rushed and only there to get attention and praise from the audience. Ian felt this was but about America Chavez. 

“I absolutely love the fact Marvel is spreading its wings to portray heroes of all genders, ethnicities and identities, but I feel that her character didn’t have enough room to be fleshed out enough for me to care. I wanted to connect with her! I feel like delving more into her backstory would have been cool to see,” she stated. 

Matthew, Dayven, and Ellistaire did not like how quickly they got rid of the cameos. Even though this is so, Ian thought that this decision benefited the movie’s storyline so the audience would be able to focus on the main characters and their development solely. 

All students explained that the one thing that really set this movie apart from other Marvel movies is how most follow a formula of an intense beginning, calm in the middle half and then hit a battle climax but with this the whole movie was basically a battle which was slightly overwhelming at times. 

Each of them also shared things that they noticed that could have possibly been overlooked by others watching the movie. 

Ian and Ellistaire used their major to their advantage when analyzing this movie. Ian said that since he is a film major, he thought that people might have not realized that when Doctor Strange travels to a different universe, the frame rate of the film changes to accompany the shift. Ellie explained how the fight scene between Sinister Strange had symbolic features embedded within it. 

“The scene where they’re using the Beethoven music to fight was really interesting. After I watched the movie I looked up sinister Strange and how he came to be sinister Strange and I think He was a music teacher or composer and that’s why all the music stuff ties into his powers and his abilities the way they did in the movie,” he explained. 

Matthew, Alex, and Maeve noticed things they had integrated from other series, comics, and features that impacted the overall message. Matthew explained the symbolism of his watch and how they used that as an example of how broken he was (as the watch was as well). The watch made him feel some type of guilt and sorrow and he then learned from his mistakes and in the end he fixed it so he could wear it again with pride. Maeve spoke on the Easter eggs with Captain Britain and the zombie episode and how the last What If episode with the evil Dr Strange really alluded to this movie and how he ruined the multiverse to keep going back and try to win over Christine (this could’ve been the Dr Strange in the gray universe with three eyes that he killed). Alex then talked about the comic books and his confusion with some of the storyline. 

“So they seem to quote that the reality of the MCU is earth, 616 but that doesn’t really make sense when you look back on it because earth 616 is the comic book universe. So it’s weird to call this reality earth 616 when it is a collection of multiple events inspired but modified by the comics,” he said. 

When it comes to America Chavez, everyone loved her addition to the Marvel universe. They said it was really nice to see a (possibly LGBTQ+) Hispanic teen with lesbian parents in such a large movie franchise. Many students share their concerns of Marvel potentially throwing away her character as sometimes the writers feel like they only needed her to have a character who is a racial minority and possibly LGBTQ+. Now that they have someone who represents underrepresented communities in one of their movies, they can just either forget about her, or only use her to prove that they do have characters who are minorities in the movie which is something that students such as Dayven valued so much in the movie. 

“I am Hispanic so to see someone that looks like me on screen portrayed as someone so powerful was nice to see. It was also nice to see someone who is LGBTQ+ in the movie because I know that’s not something we see a lot in Marvel movies. Even though it got banned in other countries I feel like it is a good step forward toward a greater message in these types of movies,” Dayven said. 

Overall, from the students interviewed, they gave the movie a 4/5. Gianna gave it the lowest rating; a 3. She enjoyed the movie and thought that it was very well executed and enjoyable to watch and follow. However, she didn’t feel that there was much that was particularly memorable about it, besides the addition of different characters due to the multiverse and was slightly underwhelmed by the events that took place during the movie’s run time.

Alex said this movie gets a 3.5 and respectfully deserves the title “Multiverse of Meh.” Dayven said it should receive a 3.6 because he expected more from a movie with such hype but blames TikTok for such high expectations. Matthew gave it a “solid 3.9.” He explains there are parts about it he would change; it needed to be a bit more grounded. 

Ian and Ellistaire gave it a 4.5. They thought this film was unique and fresh in so many ways that other films aren’t, and it shows just how much damage a hero corrupted by loss and trauma can do. It goes full-on horror mode and defies expectations, killing off characters we know and love left and right. They thought it was really solid work for anyone who’s a fan of horror/comedies.

Maeve gave it the highest rating with a five because it really tied a lot of things together with the Disney+ series and the multiverse definitely needed its own movie with Strange after No Way Home.