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Why has Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness made so much money? 

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The newest in the likely infinite installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness released to theaters only hoping to ride the wave of Spider-Man No Way Home’s phenomenal theatrical success and boy did it. The film grossed $185 million in its opening weekend making it the biggest of 2022 and the 11th biggest opening of all time. As of today, its surpassed half a billion dollars in revenue. This film made more money than its predecessor Dr. Strange made its entire run, in just one day. A true smash success by any stretch of the imagination and a really positive sign for the future of cinema. 

But is the film truly phenomenal? Or are folks just finally itching to go to the movie again? The Conservative Critic will ask: Is it entertaining? Does it have intellectual/artistic value? And is it liberal propaganda? 

The Conservative Critic Meter Check: Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Overall Rating: Good with some weakness

Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Multiverse) does a lot right. To begin with, the studio has spent years marketing the film with other films and streaming series. The concept of the multiverse has been slowly introduced into the MCU over several films and series but really came to a crescendo in Spider-Man: No Way Home which also featured Dr. Strange. So the build up has created a lot of theories and excitement amongst fans leading them to their theater seats. 

Pitting the magic of Wanda Maximoff aka a witch (the Scarlet Witch) against Dr. Stephen Strange aka a sorcerer makes sense and created a very manageable world for the film which did not attempt to expand its reach to the Galaxy and beyond where some of the other MCU characters dwell. It put parameters on a seemingly parameterless scenario of multiple universes which was wise and fun. 

The film overall was in-step with all the Marvel universe fun we’ve come to know and love and is definitely good and worth seeing. It continues a fairly profound metaphor from the WandaVision series on Disney+ without being too heavy handed and features some truly stunning visual effects as well as really satisfying cameos and fan service made possible only by the multiverse. 

However, there were some issues. Though it is a treat to welcome Sam Raimi back to the Marvel universe directing the film after directing the original Spider-Man franchise starring Toby McGuire, some of the style choices did not match others and it seemed a bit like 1000 different artistic voices were fighting against one another for focus. In a way, that effect matches the notion of the multiverse, but instead of seeming intentional or interesting it mainly seemed dated and inexpensive (which the film was not). And the script had pretty frequent logic problems even for a superhero movie and managed to somehow be far too simplistic. 

Is it entertaining? 

Rating: Marvel fun

The film was a lot of fun as all Marvel films are. It starts in the middle of action and is full of magical battles, familiar characters and quick sequences. There are moments in Multiverse that get a bit slower than the traditional Marvel movie because the concept of the multiverse itself is complicated enough that it requires a fairly extensive set-up. To its credit, Multiverse walks the viewer through the set up with action and plot movement instead of with lazy monologues. Overall it’s a fun and entertaining watch like the rest of its MCU film brothers and sisters. Definitely worth seeing as big as it can be in theaters. 

Does it have artistic/intellectual value? 

Rating: Yes and no

What’s right about Multiverse primarily centers on the Wanda side of the story. The movie deftly continues the beauty and metaphor of WandaVision exploring the stages of grief but does not show its hand or rub it in the viewer’s face. Further, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda/Scarlet Witch is on her best game. Her transformation from early Avengers is one of the more interesting character arcs in the franchise along with Black Widow. 

Additionally, the film brings in some very pleasant surprises made possible by the multiverse and portrays magic with a lot of beauty and consistency. Not quite the masterpiece of the Harry Potter franchise artistic depiction of magic but very close in its own way. It also explores a darker, more human understanding of magic and the nature of witchcraft, death and evil. It’s an interesting and well done change from the more scientific/extraterrestrial approach taken in the other areas of the MCU. 

However, there are some pretty brutal logical fallacies in the film that are hard to ignore. I’ve explained many times before: every film has a construct of logic. So if a film is a world where there are superpowers and magic, there has to be some structure to that world. A set of rules on what can and can’t happen. Even if what can and can’t happen is seemingly endless. So if it is established that a character is capable of something – they can’t later be incapable of that same thing with no explanation. For example, if a character can fly it would be illogical for that character to fall off a building and die (this isn’t a spoiler nothing like that happens in the movie). This kind of thing happens many times in the film and it’s very distracting and annoying. One major problem of creating basically “all powerful” beings is that later when you want to injure them or make a good fight, the fact of their being “all powerful” can get in the way.

Additionally some of the cinematography choices were very strange and jarring with the overall style and format of the film. For example there was random use of slow motion that seemed to come and go as it pleased. And some of the angles were truly just odd and seemed from a bygone era of thrillers more than from a modern superhero blockbuster. 

Is it liberal propaganda? 

Rating: A bit to the right

The Marvel franchise has a pretty heavy focus on American values so it tends to lean a bit right. In this film, not only was it quite American (there is a new character named America even) but it was a bit Christian. There were themes relating to the evil of becoming your own God (essentially) and the temptation of all-power being the ultimate corrupter of humanity. This is the foundation of Christian faith (original sin in-fact) and it’s even a bit on the nose with references to Hell and demons etc. There is also a clear theme of redemption, choice, and forgiveness all of which are pillars of Christianity and conservatism in many ways. 

Conclusion

In short, Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has its problems but its ability to explore concepts like grief, powerlessness, and contentment without playing an overly heavy hand all while weaving in fun and big superhero fight sequences is admirable and even graceful. 

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