Doctor Strange and the Debate of the New Saga

by 
 | July 20, 2022

Erika:

As nearly every Marvel fan did, as soon as the tickets for Doctor Strange and The Multiverse of Madness went on sale; I RAN to my computer to get tickets! I got tickets for Thursday at 3 pm, “technically” the day before it came out.

The lead-up to the film's release to me was questionable, mainly in terms of what they were releasing in trailers… confirming the Illuminati and Professor X’s hoverchair. I felt a bit cheated that I wouldn’t experience being right or having that reveal in theaters.

I tried not to let that get me down, though! Went and saw the movie on release and had a blast! Not much was a classic Marvel reveal other than Blackbolt from the Inhuman series, and our fan cast Reed Richards (honestly, one of my favorite moments of the film). Raimi’s horrific, more realistic murders of the Illuminati were a highlight of the film, and I want to see more of that going forward.

Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch

At first, I struggled HARD with what happened to Wanda and the direction she was taking. But with the help of JStoobs on TikTok/Instagram, I actually came around to it. I highly recommend watching her reactions to the movie as it’ll help clear up the questions and hard feelings from Wanda's development in the film. I’d like to give one quote here from part of her first Wanda response video, as mental health is a subject extremely important to her;

“...Providing a nuanced conversation about mental health does not mean pretending that people who suffer from mental health cannot do evil things. We can understand that Wanda is grieving and suffering and remorseful and being affected by negative influences, i.e., The Darkhold. And also, understand that having multiple qualifiers doesn’t excuse bad behavior. That’s one of the things I love most about the film is that we are positioned to deeply empathize and root for Wanda, something that has been a staple of well-written Villains forever.

She's not presented as an emotional, out-of-control woman like she has been in the comics. She’s given full autonomy for maybe the first time in her entire publication history. And just like the greats before her, Magneto, Killmonger… She truly believes her convictions are just and that her motivations justify her actions. As much as I love WandaVision, it still did play into the emotional woman can’t control her powers trope that we see used time and time again in the comics.”

There’s a lot more to that, but my hope is that it sparks your curiosity about learning from another perspective. It changed how I felt about her character being written, and I’m more on board and less disappointed by it, especially after learning that Elizabeth Olsen had a heavy hand in Wanda’s character direction. Even just two days after wrapping WandaVision, she went right into Multiverse of Madness, playing Wanda for nearly two years straight! Elizabeth is a queen.

Now to where I feel… not great. As many of you may have seen in any Marvel-related Trailer Talk on the Couch Soup YouTube channel, I will call in! I thoroughly enjoy Marvel and will defend even the most unliked films. So what I’m about to say feels a bit off-brand.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange

I’m lost at the moment with Marvel. All the movies had a clear connection in the first three phases of Marvel. Including Falcon having a cameo in Ant-Man. It was those things that tied the universe together. I felt jumbled in my thoughts as this Phase 4 has felt disconnected and non-cohesive. Leaving the Multiverse of Madness, my thoughts were, “what was the point?”

I know; I’m going to quote someone else again! But hear me out, Supes (Also from TikTok) said exactly what I was feeling and put it into the words I struggled to come up with.

“I have one worry about the future of Marvel. So I’m very excited about the movies and shows Marvel has on the way! But, this has been on my mind recently. So the thing that made the infinity saga so special was that every single film led right into the next one. It was a never-ending hype train that builds up to the most epic finale that we ever could have imagined.

But phase 4 has felt so disconnected and shying away from the thing that made this universe so successful, which is an interconnected story.

And that might be a positive for some people, but for me, it’s a concern. Black Widow perfectly led into Hawkeye but after that… When are we gonna see Yelena again? Shang Chi was an awesome movie, but after, do we know when we are going to see him (or the relation to the end credits scene)? Eternals had a crazy ending, but we don’t know when we are going to see them again. 

And now, with Multiverse of Madness, we are going to see this come to light (post-credit scene) until Dr Strange 3, which isn’t on the horizon anytime soon. And I’m not even talking about the Disney Plus characters.

Benedict Wong as Wong in Multiverse of Madness

The connection is what made this universe so great, and right now, there isn’t any.”

What Supes said perfectly put together how I felt after seeing the movie and these many weeks after. There’s so much that’s been given, and we don't know when we will see them pay off, or if ever. Because it's being presented like they aren’t going to be.

Not going to lie; I cried about it. Marvel means a great deal to me, and it always will. I may be feeling lost and kind of hurt about its future now, but I’m holding out hope that it will all come together into a more brilliant story.

All in all, go see the Multiverse of Madness! It’s worth a watch and is brilliantly made.

Solid 7.5/10

Lily K:

As with every Marvel-related thing, the excitement was real for this one too. As much as I love Doctor Strange and Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the character, I was first and foremost here for Wanda Maximoff. As a huge fan of WandaVision, I needed to know what’s next for Elisabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch. 

At first, just like Erika, I didn’t really like the direction they took with Wanda. But as the movie progressed, it all started to make sense. At this point, I honestly don’t know how else they could have done it. With WandaVision’s ending in mind and the Scarlet Witch having the Dark Hold all to herself… well, turning to evil was the only way. Is she evil, though? Can we call Wanda’s character the villain? For me, it’s interesting to see how her character arc progressed. She is one of the most tormented characters in the MCU currently. First, she lost her brother Pietro in Age of Ultron, then she had to suffer the hate from the public in Civil War. She killed her love, Vision, and then had to watch him die again when Thanos turned back time in Infinity War. Then she had to let go of her children and Vision at the end of WandaVision. She couldn’t lose anything else, so she was on a mission to regain at least part of her life. Does this justify all the things she did in the movie? I mean, she got rid of the Illuminati in no time and was dead set on murdering another child so she could reunite with her own. The clear answer would be no, even if many of us grew very fond of her character. 

I think the fans being on edge with Wanda makes this movie stand out from the crowd. 

The Scarlet Witch

The multiverse part of the movie is something I think deserved a lot more. The whole concept had a sort of introduction in Spider-man: No Way Home, and obviously, What if…? built its whole storyline on the idea, but everyone was expecting more in Doctor Strange. More moving between universes, meeting with other variants, etc. Instead, we were left with a cool montage where America and Strange were falling through lots of different universes and stayed longer in three different ones all together in the movie… well… four if we count our own (Earth 616). Sure, Earth-838 had a cool concept of how things worked differently, but I kind of wished they would have gone to more places. The film basically had Wanda chase them to one universe and have the bigger confrontation of the movie there. I think they missed the chance to do something more here. 

About the connections in phase 4 that Erika mentioned… I disagree. I think there’s already a very clear pattern of where we are going with all this. More on this later, as I also disagree with how all the movies were connected in the Infinity saga. In the beginning, they were leading towards AVENGERS only, and it was then that Avengers opened the door towards the Infinity saga itself. But what exactly was the connection between the movies there? For one, we had either Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) or Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) show up. We were introduced to two Avengers in movies like Iron Man 2, where Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow first appeared, then Thor, where Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye showed up. And yes, we got a look at the Tesseract that held the Space Stone in Captain America: The First Avenger.

When two variants meet

 

What do we have now? We have introductions to entirely new characters, not in their own films/tv shows. We have Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) in Black Widow, who since then appeared in Hawkeye, Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) in WandaVision, who will return in The Marvels or White Vision (Paul Bettany), who’s bound to come back at some point. 

We also have characters who are replacing Agent Coulson’s role. We have the newly introduced Valentina (Julia Louis-Dreyfous), who recruited the newcomer John Walker (Wyatt Russell) in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and sent Yelena after Hawkeye at the end of Black Widow. We also got Wong (Benedict Wong), who already recruited Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and Katy (Awkwafina), and he is now also confirmed to make an appearance in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

But the BIGGEST two clues of what’s gonna be the endgame is already right in front of us. One appeared at the end of Loki, and we can safely assume that he will be the biggest antagonist: Johnathan Majors’ He Who Remains, aka Kang the Conqueror. He is set to re-appear as Kang in next year’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and it is fairly certain that Scott won’t be able to kill him as he has a much bigger role to play, but even if he dies… He Who Remains warned us: there are many more variants of him out there. 

The other thing is what I mentioned about the Multiverse itself. Our Endgame here will be the amazing comic run of Secret Wars, aka the Destruction of the Marvel Universe, and various other alternate universes, with Kang being our new Thanos. I think we can start calling this era of the MCU the Multiverse saga. 

8/10

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