Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a week away, and we’re happy to report it starts very strong. Marvel Studios screened 20 minutes from the film at CinemaCon 2022, and it drops you right back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with several exciting action scenes right from the start. We’ll describe them below, but if you plan on seeing Strange next week, this is all spoilers.
The film opens in the middle of a massive action set piece. A ponytailed, multiverse Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) are running and jumping through a mysterious, purple world with debris everywhere—you’ve seen it in trailers. They’re being chased by a stringy demon not unlike the bad guys from Edge of Tomorrow. Strange and Chavez try to freeze it, but it’s only a temporary distraction, and Strange warns America that they can’t let the demon steal her powers.
The duo try to get to a special platform with a magical book. They run and jump over the debris like it’s a video game, but the demon catches up and stabs Strange. Steven casts a spell at the creature, stopping it again, but says it’s too powerful. It begins to break out of his trap, as his wound keeps festering. He then apologizes to America telling her “this is the only way,” as he begins to suck her powers out of her. Strange believes she can’t handle the powers, but he can. She’s scared and angry—Strange is trying to kill her, and she says she thought they were friends. He explains that, in the grand scheme of the multiverse, her death is a worthy sacrifice. But before he can finish, Strange is stabbed again by the creature, this time through the chest. He’s dead. She’s captured. It’s over. But then America gets very angry, and conjures a huge star shaped field of power behind her, that seems to slow the monster down. The dying Strange then, with his last breath, frees her from the monster’s grasp…
Only to wake up in bed back in New York. Now it’s our Dr. Strange. It was all a dream.
Strange gets dressed and heads to a wedding. A few people there seem uncomfortable that he’s there but Michael Stuhlbarg’s character, Nicodemus West, from the first Doctor Strange is there to greet him. The duo talk, and we find out they were both blipped. In that time, Dr. West lost his cats and brother and he wonders if there was any other way. Strange explains that there wasn’t. “The best surgeon and the best hero, but you didn’t get the girl,” West says to change subject, and we reveal that it’s the wedding of Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), as she begins walking down the aisle.
After the ceremony Strange is standing at the bar, drinking a martini, and Christine comes by. She says that her husband Charlie is a big fan and would like to meet him but he wants to get serious—he apologizes for how he treated her, and she says it never would have worked out anyway. They just want each other to be happy—and while Christine actually is, Strange lies that he is, too.
Just then, there’s a noise on the street. Everyone runs outside and it’s obvious something bad is happening. Strange then jumps off the balcony, changing into his super suit mid flight, and flies down to the commotion. Something invisible is smashing up a bus and Strange reveals that it’s a massive, interdimensional Octopus, Gargantos—which we’ve seen in early merchandise and in trailer snippers—and it’s going after the same girl from his dream, who he recognizes trying to flee the chaos.
What follows is a massively awesome set piece where Strange, his cape, and Wong (Benedict Wong) all combine to save America and destroy the beast. Some highlights along the way are that patented Sam Raimi POV shots, even from the perspective of the monster, as well as a gruesome, excellent way the monster is defeated. It’s a very satisfying sequence. After the battle, America tries to get away but the two sorcerers stop her. They sit down at a pizza place and she explains why she was being chased by the monster—that it wants her power to travel across multiverses. They don’t believe her, until she takes them to the body of the other Doctor Strange. They realize they need to keep this girl safe, but she’s worried. How can she be sure this Strange won’t betray her like the other one, she asks? Strange and Wong realize that these demons and monsters are the product of witchcraft, not magic, and Wong asks him if he knows anyone with that kind of experience… which of course, Strange does.
Yup, it’s time for Wanda Maximoff. We see her in her home, making food with her kids, tucking them in at night. The WandaVision music plays subtly in the background. She seems very happy but then we realize… she too is dreaming, like Strange was. She’s actually alone, in bed, in a quiet bedroom. Strange shows up on Wanda’s farm and most of what follows has been in the trailers. She thinks he’s there to admonish her for what happened in Westview, but he explains he needs to know about the multiverse, tells her about America, and asks if Wanda will go back with him to Kamar-Taj. He said he could use an Avenger—and this might get her back on the lunchbox.
If this is the first 20 minutes of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it’s off to a very good start. Dynamic action, emotional moments, good character development, and lots of MCU connections. If the movie keeps on that trajectory, it should be a wild ride when we get to see the rest of it from May 6.
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