Doctor Strange 2 should have used a Marvel movie criticism to its advantage

Full spoilers for Doctor Strange 2 follow. You were warned.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has finally landed in theaters – and there’s a lot to enjoy about the latest Marvel movie. With several crowd-pleasing cameos, horror-infused sequences, intriguing themes, and the usual whiplash of action and humor, it’s a sleek yet solid Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that will satisfy both casual fans and Marvel fans.

That said, it’s not without its problems. The plot of the Marvel Phase 4 project seems somewhat put together and a little too fast-paced, which you can probably trace back to the fact that the script for the superhero movie went through numerous rewrites and six-week reshoots as recently as in November 2021.

It’s no surprise, then, that Doctor Strange 2 suffers from a slightly disjointed narrative and plot pacing issues. I wouldn’t say it’s too rushed, but it’s certainly the victim – not the beneficiary – of a little padding and fat reduction, so to speak.

For some viewers, that will be a good thing. Why drag out a film’s story when it’s unjustified? Isn’t Doctor Strange 2 a good movie because he was stripped of the plot threads that would normally weigh him down?

Ironically, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness would have fared much better had it ignored the long-running critiques of MCU movies (and superhero movies in general) and allowed itself a longer runtime. . As it stands, it’s a good Marvel movie, but it could have been more.

The Illuminati in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Doctor Strange 2 is judged not to have a longer runtime. (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The runtime, which is a relatively short two hours and six minutes, could have easily been extended, giving the MCU movie more time and more license to explore Stephen Strange’s personal story arc. .

Yes, enough time is given to the former Sorcerer Supreme – he is the star of the show, after all. But a more detailed study of the character of Doctor Strange, especially since so much of the narrative is devoted to his struggle with the kind of person he’s compared to his multiversal variants, would have made for a more emotionally impactful story.

As it stands, Strange knows who he could have been had he made a different decision at any point in his MCU arc to date, but he never feels like he’s struggling with the choices he made. You know, aside from the regret he feels that he didn’t have his “happily ever after” ending with Christine Palmer.

It would have been interesting, for example, to see if he regretted giving the Time Stone to Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, or helping Peter Parker cast that spell to make everyone forget that he was Spider-Man in No Way Home.

Of course, you can argue that he made the right calls – the events of and after Endgame, as well as the climactic ending of No Way Home, show that he did. But, despite encountering variations of himself and other MCU characters, he remains convinced he made the right decisions despite the multiversal consequences those two key actions had. It would have made for intriguing viewing had Doctor Strange 2 explored the ramifications of those decisions (and their impacts on him in particular) in more detail.

Wanda Maximoff leads a magical seance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Wanda’s character arc in Doctor Strange 2 seems one-dimensional. (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Wanda’s arc also feels delayed by the film’s runtime. Positioned as the antagonist of the play, it seems like the character development of the twin Maximoff in WandaVision was for naught. In the Disney Plus show, we see Wanda – aka the Scarlet Witch – come to terms with her guilt and trauma over the deaths of Pietro Maximoff and Vision, as well as the fact that her twin sons Billy and Tommy are not true entities in the MCU. It was a refreshing change of pace for the troubled superhero, whose MCU arc has largely been built on the psychological wounds she’s accumulated since her introduction in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

However, most (if not all) of this character’s growth is set aside to position Wanda/Scarlet Witch as a grieving mother who is so focused on being reunited with her children that she will cause a unwarranted destruction to achieve its objective. Yes, she was consumed by the Darkhold so she’s not thinking clearly. Okay, in the comics, Scarlet Witch is constantly dealing with her guilt and trauma, so it’s reasonable to assume her deep-rooted psychological scars (in the MCU) didn’t disappear overnight. And of course, given the strengths and superpowers of Doctor Strange and his allies, this film needed a villain as powerful as Scarlet Witch to surpass them.

However, with a longer runtime, Doctor Strange 2 could have delved deeper into the reasons behind Wanda’s descent into madness. She’s a much more complex character than the one-note individual she claims to be in Marvel’s latest big-screen offering. So it’s a shame that Doctor Strange 2 doesn’t fully examine the battle raging within.

A screenshot of the Living Tribunal's appearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

America Chavez’s introduction to the MCU feels a bit stuck in the process. (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

There are other story beats that would have benefited from a longer film. America Chavez’s arrival in the MCU feels more like a plot device to allow the various characters in the film to more easily traverse the multiverse. Considering her procedural significance and the father-daughter-style relationship she’s developing with Doctor Strange, 20 more minutes may have helped inform her long-awaited MCU debut. and added more context to his budding partnership with Strange.

As great as the Illuninati’s battle with Scarlet Witch was, a longer fight sequence showing how the group works together would have been a treat as well. It’s about a team of superheroes who defeated their universe’s version of Thanos with relative ease, by all accounts. They couldn’t have done it without working in tandem to take down the Mad Titan, so it was slightly disappointing that they attacked Wanda individually rather than collectively. Oh, and if you’re going to give fans what they want and cast John Krasinski as Mr. Fantastic, at least let us see him use his Marvel powers.

Given the film’s title “Multiverse of Madness”, I – and many other viewers, I’m sure – would also have liked to visit more universes with more rigor. Teasing other realities, like an animated reality, a paint-based dimension, and even the dinosaur kingdom hinted at in the trailers, is fine. If you put “multiverse” in the title, however, I want to explore a little more for a few scenes at least, rather than just skipping them in the blink of an eye and you’ll miss the edit.

A promotional image for Doctor Strange 2 featuring the Sorcerer Supreme front and center

Doctor Strange 2 isn’t a bad movie – far from it, in fact. (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The above may make me sound like a hater titled Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. In my opinion, it’s still a good movie with plenty of audience-satisfying moments, and there’s enough set-up (based on its ending and post-credits scenes) that teases the prospect of other multiverse tales. potentially larger. to come.

But there’s a nagging feeling that it could have been a much better movie if it had been a bit longer. Some may disagree with this sentiment, especially in the wake of increasingly longer superhero films including The Batman and Avengers: Endgame. Shorter movies with tighter narratives (no plot padding) make for better movies, right?

Usually yes, but some movies need to have longer runtimes if it helps their stories. Doctor Strange 2 is the shortest MCU movie in three years, but while that’s music to some fans’ ears, that’s not necessarily a good thing, with the film’s somewhat messy plot.

Director Sam Raimi previously revealed (per Collider) that Doctor Strange 2 was originally two hours and 40 minutes long, and I can’t help but wonder if that cut would have made for a fuller, more enjoyable film. . In another universe, there may be a version of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness that has retained its original runtime and is all the better for it. Without access to Chavez’s multiverse portal powers, I guess we’ll never know.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is out now in theaters worldwide.

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