Marvel’s First Horror Movie Should Satisfy Fans
Sam Raimi is back with Marvel’s first authentic horror blockbuster!
With Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Sam Raimi managed to navigate the Disneyfication of the multiverse and emerged with his horror credibility intact. Of course, there are plenty of moments of indulgence between two ages. However, for the most part, the House of Mouse’s fingerprints aren’t everywhere in the MCU’s latest entry, mostly due to a surprisingly shocking amount of signature touches from Raimi. Even if you’re not completely up to date with Marvel’s Phase 4, all horror fans should probably get out there and support the beloved director’s first film in nine years.
Dealing with Aftershocks Spider-Man: No Coming Home and Wanda Vision, Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) finds himself battling the one-eyed monster Gargantos (a familiar comic book foe) to help protect a teenage boy in peril named America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez). Strange has seen America in her dreams and learns that she has the ability to travel across the multiverse, a power she cannot control. They learn that Wanda Maximoff (Elisabeth Olsen) aka Scarlet Witch has sent Gargantos to kidnap America in order to use her power to find her children, Billy and Tommy Maximoff, who were last seen in Wanda Vision. From there, Raimi’s instincts take over to send the audience on a wildly gruesome ride at breakneck speed.
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The ancient spellbook known as Darkhold is another holdover from the end of Wanda Vision. The book grants almost unlimited power to the owner. Marvel’s Book of the Damned allows Wanda to become virtually unstoppable as the Scarlet Witch. There are obvious nods to the Necronomicon from the evil Dead franchise and Raimi fully embraces the connection between the Darkhold and the infamous Book of the Dead.
Once Wanda discovers the Darkhold atop Mount Wundagore, the back half of Multiverse of Madness blithely dives into action-horror territory. There’s an incredibly dark possession scene where the Scarlet Witch takes on a variant of Wanda that pushes the boundaries of the PG-13 rating. It’s really disturbing for a family-friendly Marvel movie and shows just how much Raimi is in control of the reins this time around. Scarlet Witch’s fury is fully unleashed in certain battle scenes that push the boundaries of what is socially acceptable violence in a blockbuster blockbuster. For horror dogs, the way Wanda has a few well-placed superhero cameos is even more fun to watch than seeing their surprise introductions.
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Olsen fully embraces the death within her. As Marvel’s greatest witch, she twists her body and scratches her fingers in subtle and disturbing ways that make the character more dangerous and demonic. Cumberbatch also comes to play with his most complete version of Dr. Strange. The America Chavez character is there to humanize Strange and ultimately functions as a MacGuffin that doesn’t really get an emotional reward. Cumberbatch dismisses the failed attempt to refine Strange’s image and instead leans into the rare opportunity to play variations of the same character. Both Sinister Strange and Defender Strange make memorable appearances that should help those who doubt the character see his full potential. When Zombie Strange emerges, Cumberbatch seems to be living out his fantasy of appearing in Michael Jackson. Polar. It’s a glorious finale for Marvel fans and horror fans alike.
the What if…? The animated series on Disney+ should shed some light on some of the possibilities these alternate worlds can play in. Raimi takes that premise and asks, what if we started with a typical, stereotypical Marvel movie and turned it into an inventive horror-action hybrid instead? The director of drag me to hell drags us into his warped version of the multiverse. In a franchise and, frankly, a concept, it’s starting to seem over the top, Raimi and Loki writer Michael Waldron breathes new life into a corpse.
Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Sam Raimi returns to the superhero genre with a surprisingly dark take on the multiverse that is likely to become the most expensive horror film ever made.